We've crossed eight time zones this week moving from Baku to Miami and, as always in the middle of a back-to-back, the F1 paddock tries to simultaneously digest the race just gone and prepare for the race to come. Last year the Miami Grand Prix was off-the-hook, but this year it's even bigger as we shift the focus from the team to the fans and celebrate your passion for the sport. Mike explains all in this latest in-depth piece, shared with I / AM members first.
This is Mike on…
Giving 100 per cent
"You may remember from earlier this season I wrote down a few thoughts about how we need to be delivering 100 per cent – because if we didn't, we'd go backwards. In Baku, we didn't quite optimise the car and, for the first time this year, we did not finish on the podium.
"We scored 22 points on what has been our most difficult weekend of the season so far. That shows the strength of our team, the strength of the car and the strength of the drivers. As Fernando said, Ferrari had a perfect weekend and finished one second ahead of us. It's that tight."
"It's unusual in the middle of a flyaway back-to-back to head home, but the schedule allowed us a stop at the factory in Silverstone before heading out to Miami. Because you are out of the paddock bubble for a couple of days, you hear more stories from the outside, one of which this week is that Lance and Fernando seem to be working well together.
"From my point of view, firstly, hats off to both of them for their excellent drives in Baku. That wasn't easy. We saw lots of drivers hitting the walls, bringing out flags across the weekend, so to get both cars home in every session – with good pace – was a very good effort.
"As for the rest of it, of course it's nice that they work well together, and it's always a boost to the team when everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope – but it isn't a revelation for us: this is just how we work.
"We're much more difficult to beat as one team working together than we would be as two separate crews in one garage. We've got two drivers who are mature in their approach, which means we get more out of the car and the team."
The Miami heat
"The first thing to notice about Miami is that it's very, very hot. It sounds obvious, but it has a significant impact on racing and will make Miami a very different race to Azerbaijan. In Baku, no one needed to do much tyre management because the track temperatures were not that high. That perhaps played against us – so this weekend, higher track temps should suit us a little bit more.
"Mercedes and Ferrari perhaps use their tyres a little bit more than us, so the thought of a race with higher degradation makes us very happy. There are more high- and medium-speed corners here; tyre management will be very important this weekend. I'm confident we can do well. That's not a prediction that we will finish on the podium – but I think we have everything we need to push hard this weekend."
Going to Miami
"This is a huge event, and that's a real sign of the growing popularity of the sport. Two years ago, the race didn't exist. Now, it's an enormous event and a mainstay of the F1 calendar: on-track, off-track, Formula One is taking over the city this weekend. It's a big deal.
"The crowds will be huge again. You can call it the ‘Netflix Effect' but it's also true that F1 has been working hard to deliver a better experience for fans both watching the broadcast and those in the grandstands. You saw that last weekend with the changes to the Sprint format and the introduction of the Sprint Shootout.
"The sport is doing things like that to improve the show, improve the sessions and generate more interest. The example this weekend is moving the paddock inside the Hard Rock Stadium. It'll make it easier for fans to view it, compared to where it was last year, hopefully enhancing the experience."
Putting fans in the spotlight
"Following on from that, it's important to recognise that there are more things we can do for fans collectively as F1, and things that we can do as a team. Since the rebirth of this team as AMF1, we've been on a mission to change how that happens, and here in Miami is a great showcase of the substance to back that up.
"This week, we launched I / AM A FAN, which is all about switching the spotlight from the team to the fans and showing our appreciation for your support. In Miami, we've been meeting lots of people at and away from the track, with students joining us in the paddock, organised bike rides, and activation events with our partners downtown – all with the aim of bringing fans closer to our team and our sport.
"But it goes much wider than the place we're racing: we've also kicked off our immersive Grand Prix roadshow with our partner XP Inc., for example, which will tour Brazil this year.
"Throughout the season there will be more live events to bring fans together, more access-all-areas content, more unforgettable experiences and more opportunities to celebrate your passion. It's going to be fantastic – and it's our way of showing our recognition and reward for your ongoing support. Thank you."
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