Formula One Puts the Pedal to the Metal in Miami

Our editor-at-large feels the need for speed at one of the world’s most full-throttle sporting events.



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LIKE SO MANY Americans, my primary source of knowledge for all things Formula One has been “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” the sprawling Netflix documentary series on the culture, history, and intrigue of F1 car racing. What was for decades an oft-overlooked pastime has now, thanks to the series, gone supernova, becoming one of the most popular sports in the world. So when the opportunity arose to go to Miami to witness my first Grand Prix, my expectations were already sky-high. Still, I was unprepared for the sensory overload.

F1 itself is a bit like a traveling circus, employing a huge crew of not only racing experts but also incredibly complicated hospitality offerings — elaborately constructed observation pavilions, gifting suites, performance spaces, and viewing lounges outfitted with gourmet finger foods and tailor-made cocktails. Miami is one of only three American cities to host F1, and I had the feeling that the entire city — particularly South Beach — had transformed for the occasion. The crowd is as flashy as the cars themselves, as evidenced by the highest concentration of Tag Heuer watches I’ve ever seen in one place.

While hotels provide a variety of perks and packages to make the F1 experience more memorable and convenient, they also book up early, so planning ahead is crucial. (Next year’s Miami races are May 3-5, just FYI). This year, I stayed at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, where I was greeted by an F1 car parked in the lobby as well as given access to the property’s massive pre-race, late-night DJ party. Perhaps the biggest perk of my hotel experience was the transportation arrangements, as getting into and out of the race through the snarl of Miami traffic is no small feat. Being dropped off at the gate and not having to think about parking was a blessing.



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It’s further worth noting that F1 races abound with experiences that money can’t buy. I was surprised to learn that access to the Silver Arrows Lounge — a partnership between The Ritz-Carlton hospitality brand and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team — is largely for loyal guests of The Ritz-Carlton and members of Marriott Bonvoy. Through the Marriott Bonvoy Moments experiences platform, members can redeem points to acquire certain experiences or to bid on exclusive opportunities to interact with the racing teams or to gain even closer access. Both Lewis Hamilton (arguably the biggest star in F1 racing history) and Mick Schumacher stopped by the lounge to say hello and to hype up the already considerably hyped crowd. I also joined a group of fans on a pre-race walk through the racing pits, where I not only almost bumped into Queen Latifah but also watched in awe as an affable Tom Cruise, less than 2 feet away from me, was coached through the experience of efficiently changing a tire on Lewis Hamilton’s car.

And then, of course, there is the race itself. Whatever cynicism I might have had about racing pretty much evaporated the moment the cars lined up and waited for the green light. The roar of the crowd goes toe-to-toe with the din of the engines, and the collective excitement of being in such close proximity to these incredible machines induces a kind of mania that I’ve rarely witnessed. Since the cars fly by at such a lightning speed, even though the race is happening a few feet away from you, there is also a wall-sized monitor that shows you what is happening on the parts of the track you can’t see and an in-lounge racing expert providing an up-to-the-second play-by-play. Before you know it, the race is over (during my visit, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took the top spot), and everyone exits the stadium, a great number of them already making plans for the next big F1 date: the debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is set to race down the strip.



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Our Contributors

T. Cole Rachel Editor-at-Large

T. Cole Rachel is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and teacher with over 20 years of experience working in print and digital media. He is currently an editor-at-large at Departures.

Nishi Patel Illustrator

Nishi Patel is a junior designer at Departures. Being raised in both New York City and India sparked her love of food, which has her constantly looking for new recipes and restaurants.


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