Formula 1 has delayed the first Miami Grand Prix to 2020, with next year’s calendar expected to feature just 20 races, due to Germany dropping out.
Paddock sources have been suggesting for weeks that it was becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that contracts for the Miami event would be signed off in time for 2019. F1’s owners didn’t want to put the race on the calendar with provisional status, only to lose it.
One of the issues has been opposition from local residents, and Miami politicians are keen to take their views into account, rather than fast track approval through.
A decision was scheduled to be made at a City Commission meeting this week, but that discussion has been postponed until September.
The fan festival scheduled for October will go ahead as planned, and it could be a key element in promoting plans for the race to sceptical locals.
F1 is determined to use only the prime Bayfront Park and Museum Park area, and the associated Marina, to the extent that if permission is withdrawn to use that location, and it can’t agree on a suitably prestigious alternative site, the race won’t happen.
“In the last few months we have worked diligently alongside our promoter Stephen Ross of RSE Ventures, the City of Miami and Miami Dade County, to realise our ambition to bring a Formula 1 Grand Prix to Miami,” said F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches.
“And we have made significant progress. However, these are complicated negotiations.
“Whilst our preference would have been to race in Miami in 2019, there was always a point by which delivering the best possible wheel-to-wheel racing experience for our fans, drivers and teams wouldn’t be possible in the time available.
“We have now reached that point as far as racing in Miami in 2019 is concerned.
“However, we are taking a long-term view and as a result, we have decided, in consultation with the Miami authorities, to postpone sign-off until later in the summer, with the aim of running the first Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix in the 2020 season.
“We have always said that we wouldn’t compromise on delivering the best possible race, and if that meant waiting until 2020, then that was far more preferable than signing off on a sub-optimal race track, just to do a deal.”
Bratches said F1 had enjoyed full co-operation from Miami authorities, and it was listening to feedback.
“At every stage of this process we’ve enjoyed positive collaboration and co-operation with the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, Port of Miami, Bayfront Parks Management, residents and businesses,” he said.
“As a result of these discussions, we have listened and adapted our plans, including elements of the track layout.
“We are committed to expansion in the US and to Miami in particular and we will be bringing our fantastic sport to this iconic city in October with the Formula 1 fan festival, where we look forward to engaging and exciting fans.”