A Trip Of a Lifetime: Our Time at the Miami F1 Race
When the first Miami F1 race was announced last year in 2022, we knew we had to be there. In our minds, no other venue could match. Normally we are not beach vacationers, but when a Formula 1 race takes place close by, of course we have to be there!
We were even happier when we got the confirmation and support from CMC Motorsports to start the long journey to the Sunshine State, so we could finally get to know the American way of life and find out how it fits together with Formula 1.
The planning of the trip was much more extensive than a "normal” F1 trip to a European country. The list of to-dos before the Miami F1 race was colorful: from entry registration to SIM cards to plug adapters, there was a lot to consider. Several weeks in advance we started with the preparations, which only boosted our anticipation of seeing all the F1 teams.
We wanted to give ourselves a little more time for this trip, so we booked accommodations for 9 nights. The 6-hour time difference would be noticeable and warrant a need for more sleep. Funny enough, there were days when we slept very little, which you will read about below. One week before our departure to the F1 Miami Grand Prix, we heard about an opening party with DJ Kygo, which of course we couldn't avoid. Already, it was clear that the city would be beside itself with excitement surrounding the very first Miami F1 race.
On April 30, shortly after 8 o'clock, we took a plane from Hamburg to Frankfurt, in order to fly from there to Miami. We enjoyed the journey, embracing every moment like the rush at airport customs in the USA, as well as reaching our destination airport in the south. It allowed us to enjoy the relaxed time in our airplane seats even more, so much so that the more than 12-hour journey to the Miami F1 race literally "flew by.” Once we arrived at our destination, we received a message that no air traveler likes to receive: the luggage did not arrive. When we left the air-conditioned airport, we only suspected what this would mean for us in the next few hours. In Miami, it was almost 30 degrees and, of course, we had arrived with the long clothes that protected us from the cold at home. So from now on, any air-conditioned area was a real blessing for us.
From the airport, we took an Uber to the hotel we were staying at for the Miami F1 race and marveled at the skyline of this extraordinary city — and started feeling the excitement of the F1 Miami Grand Prix.
The hotel lived up to our expectations: a comfortable bed, spacious bathroom, and a well-equipped kitchen with a large refrigerator. There was also a large closet on site, but it remained empty for the time being. At the nearby supermarket, we did our first shopping. How often we visited can be counted on two hands. Again and again, we caught ourselves running to the supermarket almost every day during our vacation to the Miami F1 race. For some inexplicable reason, we find it difficult to plan meals here, even though we are so perfectly organized at home in Germany.
From then on, the evening ritual included eating in front of the TV, which was playing The Office — a comforting watch we had brought with us from Hamburg.
The Fun Begins
The first night in a foreign bed was restless and jet lag struck the next day. Due to the heat and the layered clothes we brought, we did almost nothing that day. Other than going to the grocery store (yes, that was the second time now) and swimming a lap in the pool in our underwear, we rested before the chaos of the Miami F1 race to come. We received the notification that the luggage we had packed for the F1 Miami Grand Prix would be brought to us at 9 PM.
The joy of being able to push our suitcases into the apartment was indescribable. Changed and freshly showered, we went for a walk with our steaming coffees. The booked rental car reached us at 12 o'clock, so we were able to drive the streets of Miami for the first time. The traffic and the behavior on the road put our attention and driving skills to the test — it was like our own Miami F1 race. We had to get used to this confusion, but we arrived safely at our destination — the Miami Design District. We were less interested in the fashion stores than in the Mercedes Pop Up Store we had heard about. While strolling, we came across W13, the current race car of Lewis Hamilton. There was no shortage of photo ops here!
We then headed to the beach to cool off from the heat. It was a relief to jump into the cold water. And here, too, our thoughts were constantly on the Miami F1 race. A small ship with a Mercedes advertisement sailed along the beach and showed our favorite drivers on a big screen. Everyone was looking forward to the F1 Miami Grand Prix — that could no longer be denied. Not only at the beach, but throughout the whole city were advertisements and many teams who had organized their own fan events off the track.
Even throughout our stay, we had been scouring Instagram for clues as to where our beloved Miami F1 race drivers might be. When George posted a picture on the beach, we put 1+1 together. We found the beach cottage that was in the background of the picture. It was close to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, so we decided to have a drink there in the evening. Since time was short, we had packed fancy clothes ahead of time so we could change in the car. It paid off that there are no small cars in Miami. Unfortunately, there was no George to be seen far and wide, but we had a good drink.
Making the Most of Miami
On Tuesday, the jet lag was completely overcome and we went to the next Miami F1 race event. At Lincoln Road, a motorsport broadcaster shot a video with Ferrari fans. Of course we wanted to participate there, so we arrived punctually at 11 o'clock in the morning. The video was about making assumptions about the Ferrari drivers, the team, and cooperation with Shell. The Ferrari drivers would then comment on this. Equipped with a microphone, we were immediately in our element and chatted away with drivers from the Miami F1 race. Later, we learned we can actually be seen in the video that was broadcast, and we think we see Charles and Carlos exchanging glances during our appearance, indicating that they know us. Here is the link:
Afterward, we strolled through the streets and went to a few hotels where we suspected other F1 Miami Grand Prix drivers could be — this turned out to be a good plan in retrospect.
For the second time, we also visited the beach before eating a delicious curry dish at home.
The fifth day in Miami promised a lot of excitement during the day as well as in the evening hours - but one after the other. Shortly after getting up, the Miami F1 race week event research on Instagram continued and we found what we were looking for. Lewis was supposed to be at a golf club we knew on the occasion of a charity event.
The rental car was just delivered on time, so we arrived at the venue at lunchtime. The parking lot was full of cars, and the off-road vehicles covered in sponsor decals waited in front of the entrance. This must be the place. We waited for an hour before something that could only occur at a place like the Miami F1 race happened: David Coulthard stepped out of the door and walked straight toward us. He immediately called us by name and asked who was Desiree and who was Virginia. Of course, we wanted to know how he knew our names. He revealed he was following us on a secret account. Completely perplexed, we took a souvenir photo and said goodbye.
The whole thing took away a bit of the excitement of what we were hoping for: meeting Lewis before the Miami F1 race. We had already seen him through the dark entrance door, but he hadn't come out yet. Instead, more and more security personnel came, finally instructing us to leave the place. We were very disappointed, as we were only a few meters away from our idol. Fortunately, we had the chance to finally see Lewis again in the evening for another F1 Miami Grand Prix event.
As already mentioned, a big event was held around the Grand Prix. This included the opening party in the evening, where DJ Kygo played. This was also the first time for us at the Miami F1 race track and we were impressed. We hadn't been partying for so long and now it was going to be combined with Formula 1 — we could hardly believe our luck. The well-chosen music reminded us of our youth and we felt comfortable.
At 8 PM, the event was announced and the teams came on stage one by one. When the Mercedes team entered the stage, we couldn't hold back anymore and shouted out our joy like we were at the Justin Bieber concert. It was unique to see all teams on one stage in this terrific atmosphere. After half an hour, Kygo took over the stage. Even Lando accompanied him for a few minutes. The two had been golfing together the day before, and now wanted to entertain the Miami F1 race fans together. At 10 PM, the music came to an end after various live performances and our conclusion was: Great show!
Racing to Meet Everyone
On Thursday, we took our first chance to sleep in a bit, knowing that sleep would become a scarce object over the next few days. At lunchtime, we headed to the Racing Fan Fest in Wynwood, where we got to see the Red Bull team up close. For the evening, we had chosen a hotel at the beach, where we suspected the Miami F1 Ferrari race team would be. Actually, we wanted to place ourselves at the F1 Miami Grand Prix track, but that turned out to be impossible and so we sped through the traffic of Miami.
And that turned out to be a perfect plan: just as we were parking and getting acquainted with the parking fee, Virginia spotted Mattia Binotto leaving the car a few meters away from us. In a flash, caps and pens were pulled out and a photo was taken with him. The Italian team boss was very friendly!
About 15 minutes later, we also met Nicolas Latifi for the first time. Then it went on blow by blow: a few minutes later, Charles Leclerc drove up to the hotel in his white Ferrari and the Miami F1 race fans got more and more excited. So it was impossible for us to take a photo with Charles that evening — but the Ferrari caps were now complete (Carlos had already signed in Imola).
The second Williams driver arrived an hour later. Alex Albon's dyed red hair stands out clearly in the photo.
The last guest that evening was Jost Capito, who we were particularly looking forward to meeting. We love his interviews on Sky and wanted to finally have a few words with him. The friendly German then shot another really charming picture with us.
So it was just 8 PM and we had already met five people from the Miami F1 race - we are used to much longer waiting times!
Off to the Real Race
The next day (Friday) started at 6 AM, because we had received a tip where the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri team would be staying for the F1 Miami Grand Prix. From 7:20 to 9:40 we waited in vain in front of this hotel and decided to go again to the place we had visited the night before. And there we were rewarded with the sight of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc! This was perfect timing, as we only had until 11 AM, as the rental car had to be returned, breakfast had to be eaten and we needed to prepare for the race.
We took a rideshare to the Miami F1 race track at 12:20. Once there, we marveled at almost the entire circuit. We were drawn to the "false" harbor first, before strolling to McLaren's private club. Today we had dressed in the papaya color and were glad about the small sleeves and the scanty neckline of the T-shirt. Our race day attire protected us from the sweltering heat and the risk of sunburn. Thanks to the help of a nice employee, we found our grandstand on the start/finish straight. The view of the garages was unique and we could also spot the safety car.
The first free practice started soon and we took our seats on our sunny F1 Miami Grand Prix grandstand. During the break, we discovered a place that offered protection from the sun and the best WiFi reception: the Hard Rock Stadium. We visited this place more often in the coming days because it was a great place to relax between Miami F1 races. Virginia also discovered an important bit of intel here: the next day there should be an autograph session between 10:30 and 11:45! Nothing is easier than meeting the drivers there.
The second free practice started at 17:30 and was supposed to end after one hour. However, we left the track half an hour earlier with a plan: quickly go home, shower, eat and then take the Mustang to the McLaren Hotel.
The first three points were not met, however, as the rideshare had major problems reaching our location. So it took a full four hours before we arrived unshowered at the McLaren Hotel. Fortunately, we were already wearing our team clothes.
There was uncertainty as to whether the Miami F1 race team was really housed here. We were pretty exhausted from the whole day and so hoped that the wait would be worth it. And we were rewarded! Almost an hour and a half later, Lando Norris came in front of our lens and signed two Cappys — we were overjoyed! 10 minutes later, Andi Seidl joined us and we started a little conversation with him about the F1 Miami Grand Prix. We were very interested to know if he remembered us since we had already met him in Barcelona this year. He replied "Yes, of course" and then named a place where we had never been: Monza. Of course, we didn't hold it against him, but we wondered who our supposed doubles might be.
We waited another hour for Daniel, who unfortunately didn't show up, and then headed home in the high-horsepower car just before midnight.
Enjoying Every Minute
A sunny Saturday morning announced the upcoming Miami F1 race events of the autograph session. The night was short, the eyes small, but the desire for more was all the greater. At 8:15 AM, we were standing in front of the gates, which didn't open until 9 AM, but we had to be the first ones at the autograph session at all costs. Hurrying in the direction of the stadium, we philosophized about how the whole thing could run — but in the end, of course, it ran differently.
With luck, Desiree recognized the place of the happening and made herself known together with Virginia with the expiry: there was one run per driver, so you had to choose one. However, due to limited space, only a certain number of people were allowed. Additionally, four teams were on at the same time, which led us to conclude that there might be chances to meet several F1 Miami Grand Prix drivers in different sessions. Desiree opted for Lewis, Virginia for George.
In the sweltering morning heat, we waited for an hour and a half (which we know is a breeze for us, considering the waiting times of the last days and months). Lewis was indeed the first driver to show himself to the Miami F1 race fans, and for us, especially Desiree, a dream came true. She took a selfie with the star and told him that we admired him immensely. He appreciated it with a familiar gesture and a smile. It all paid off because, from her vantage point, Virginia could see that next in line to the right would be the McLaren team.
So we quickly got in line for Daniel, who arrived about a half-hour later. When we arrived at the table, we first had a lengthy conversation with him before being instructed to step aside. We also asked him if he remembered us — and he even named the right place! He dedicated the autograph cards to us personally by writing our names on them. A Saturday morning at the Miami F1 races could not have gone better.
We enjoyed qualifying in our seats, cheering on both Lewis & George and the Ferrari team. We were completely satisfied with the Ferrari 1-2. The beautiful day ended with a personal F1 Miami Grand Prix meet and greet with CMC Motorsports at the Ritz Carlton, where we had excellent food.
An Action-Packed Morning
On Sunday it was time to sleep in, so we didn't set off for the track until 11am. Today it was a little less sunny, which was certainly welcomed by all the Miami F1 race fans. For the Drivers Parade at 1:30 PM, we lined up at the front of our grandstand to get the best view of our beloved drivers. At this moment we again became aware of the unique atmosphere of this event. And this impression was reinforced when the starting grid began in front of our grandstand. Otherwise, we only get to see these moments through the TV — so we were able to feel the tension up close before the start. Formula 1 is and remains our passion.
When all the cars took their starting positions, no one was able to stay in their seats. For the first five laps, all the fans followed the cars standing before everyone gradually sat down. Around lap 40, the cards were reshuffled due to Lando's crash, but Max Verstappen took the top spot on the podium, followed by the two Ferrari drivers. We are curious to see what influence this Miami F1 race result will have on the overall world championship standings.
Until Next Time, Miami
So what is the conclusion of our halfway-around-the-world trip to the F1 Miami Grand Prix?
We have grown fond of the city and the people there and would recommend everyone to take the long flight there.
The Miami F1 race was staged in a completely new way and cannot be compared to Formula 1 races in Europe. The events around and at the track give the whole experience some character and personality that are unparalleled. The organization was done by professionals and, despite the vast terrain, was thought out in the best possible way. We enjoyed the visit, even though we heard from many people in front of the TV that the insertions and interviews with celebrities predominated and that the actual sport of the F1 Miami Grand Prix was somewhat neglected. We can only judge what happened on and around the Miami F1 race track — our fan hearts beating faster.