The Miami Grand Prix is hosting a sprint race for the first time in its short history. As a circuit, it feels almost purpose-made for the current sprint format which aims to provide entertainment for the ticketholders who will flock to the Miami Dolphins stadium.

Max Verstappen may have secured pole position in sprint qualifying, but it clearly came as a genuine surprise to the world champion after a somewhat untidy final lap in his Red Bull yesterday.

With Charles Leclerc starting alongside the Red Bull, rebounding superbly from his faux pas in first practice, could Verstappen face more pressure for victory over the 19-lap sprint race than he did in Shanghai?


Earlier in the week, initial forecasts predicted that there was a small but serious risk that rain could fall over the Miami Gardens area prior to the sprint race. However, that risk appears to have reduced over time and it seems likely today’s race will be dry.

Conditions are expected to be similar to Friday’s practice, with temperatures just under 30C. The flat, open area of the Hard Rock Stadium campus does leave drivers more exposed to wind than other circuits on the calendar, with many drivers complaining of being caught out by gusts during yesterday’s practice session. However, it is unlikely that drivers will be facing anything more severe than what they’ve experienced on Friday during this first race of the weekend.


There have only been two previous starts at the Miami International Autodrome. The run from pole position to the first corner measures just 250 metres, one of the shortest sprints to turn one on the calendar.

Perez kept his lead from pole at the start last year

So it’s little surprise that on both previous occasions the pole-winner has held the lead on the opening lap. Last year, the top three starters for the grand prix each retained their positions. Pole position is located on the racing line on the left-hand side of the grid, meaning Leclerc could have a chance to dive up the inside if Verstappen struggles to get off the line well. But given how rarely the world champion gives up the lead off the line, that seems somewhat unlikely.

Although the front of the field tends to be more well behaved off the line in Miami, there is a real risk facing drivers back in the pack due to the slow first corner immediately followed by turns two and three, which creates a bottleneck effect. Last year, Nyck de Vries whacked into Lando Norris’s McLaren into the first corner while Fernando Alonso clipped Lewis Hamilton at turn two while fighting over seventh place in 2022.

However de Vries’ successor in the team now known as RB is much better placed today. Starting in fourth, Daniel Ricciardo has high hopes of a top eight finish for his first points score of the season.

“Just from a turn one, first lap [perspective], being involved in a bit of chaos – obviously staying a bit cleaner at the front is always like a breath of fresh air,” he said. “So I’m sure second row will help our cause in getting some points.”

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George Russell, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2024
Soft rubber worked for Russell in Shanghai sprint race

As with any sprint race, the only significant strategy decision for teams to make is which tyre compound to fit their cars on for the 19-lap event. In Shanghai, all 20 drivers chose the medium compound except for George Russell, who gambled on softs and made it work for him.

Pirelli have brought the same three compounds to Miami this weekend, but conditions are much warmer in south Florida than in Shanghai. Pirelli expect that the mediums will again be the tyre of choice but think that there might be a few more drivers further down the order who may take a gamble on the softs, given that Russell managed to nurse them through a full sprint race last time out around a circuit that puts more sustained loads on its tyres than Miami.


At 97 on-track overtakes over the first two years of the Miami Grand Prix at an average of 48.5 passes per grand prix, Miami is certainly a track where overtaking is possible. It helps that the circuit is almost tailor-made to suit the modern DRS era of racing, with three significant overtaking places at the end of the three DRS zones into turns one, 11 and 17 at the end of the long back straight.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Miami’s back straight is often the best passing place

With no pit strategy to be concerned with for the sprint race, there is unlikely to be major pace differences between drivers except for those arguably out of position like Lando Norris in ninth, who set the fastest time of anyone yesterday, using the medium rubber, in his fully updated McLaren (team mate Oscar Piastri only has some of their new parts).

As Verstappen showed last year when he won the grand prix from that starting position, it is certainly possible to make your way through the field in Miami if you have a significant pace advantage in your car. But just how quick is the updated McLaren? While most teams haven’t lapped within a second of their best time from last year at this track, McLaren got within three tenths of a second despite both drivers having poor laps in SQ3.

Could it therefore be more of a threat in the grand prix if Norris qualifies higher up this afternoon? The sprint race should offer some fascinating insights.

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Safety Cars

Across two grands prix at Miami, there have been just two Safety Car deployments – both of which occurring in the inaugural race in 2022. Last year’s grand prix ran caution-free, which is perhaps surprising given the temporary nature of this circuit with barriers and limited run off.

Leclerc’s spin in practice show it is easy for drivers to get stuck around the narrow sections of the circuit and any stoppage on track runs the risk of prompting a Safety Car intervention. However, the biggest risk will naturally come from the opening lap. Should drivers manage to navigate the first 5.4km successfully, it’s very likely the rest of the race will run green until the end.

One to watch

Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Miami International Autodrome, 2024
Tsunoda has a fight on his hands after SQ2 elimination

Although Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton will start outside the top ten, it’s hard to argue that the two team mates are out of position. In ninth, Lando Norris will almost surely be heading forwards given the impressive pace he showed before the final phase of sprint qualifying.

An obvious candidate to watch out for is Ricciardo, starting higher than any RB car has started on any grid so far this season in fourth. But while everyone will have their eyes on Ricciardo and whether he can keep his car inside the top eight and secure his first points of the season, it will be equally as interesting to see how his team mate, Yuki Tsunoda, will fare starting down in 15th.

Tsunoda’s attempt to progress through SQ2 with just a single push lap did not pay off as his sole flying lap was deleted for a track limits infringement, however he would still have started in the same position had the lap time been valid. In the earlier practice session, Tsunoda was eighth-quickest and a tenth of a second faster than his team mate who will start 11 places ahead of him on the grid. Tsunoda has to ensure that number is much smaller by the time they reach the chequered flag.

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Teams’ progress vs 2023

2024 Miami Grand Prix

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