Miami gives green light for Formula 1 race as early as 2019

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Miami skyline - Image via City of Miami Government

Miami skyline - Image via City of Miami Government

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Plans for a potential Miami Grand Prix as early as the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship have passed the first major hurdle.

Stakeholders, including F1 owner Liberty Media, aim to hold the race in downtown Miami and on Thursday were given preliminary approval from City of Miami Commissioners and the Economic Development and Tourism Committee (Miami-Dade County) to host the race through to 2028.

“With the unanimous votes at both the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee, we are very pleased to have received preliminary approval towards bringing a Formula 1 grand prix to Miami,” F1 Managing Director Commercial Operations Sean Bratches said in a statement. “We recognize that this is only the start of the process and we will immediately get to work with the various community stakeholders, the City of Miami, the Port of Miami, Bayfront Park Management Trust and others, in order to reach a final agreement.”

The exact timing is a matter for further discussion between F1's owner as well as the FIA and city officials, though the stakeholders are hopeful of holding an October race. Among the stakeholders is U.S. businessman Stephen Ross, the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.

City councillor Ken Russell last week gave a preview of the proposed layout of the race on Twitter. It runs around the American Airlines Arena—home of the Miami Heat NBA team—and past the city's Freedom Tower, before going across the harbor and then returning to the downtown area. Reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, a fan of the potential Miami race, has thrown in his hat to help refine the design.

A second U.S. race to join the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas has been rumored for some time, though typically the location centered on New York City. What isn't clear is whether a current race will need to be eliminated to fit a potential Miami Grand Prix, as the 2018 F1 calendar already spans 21 races. Another possibility could be alternating the Miami race with the Austin race, though this would be counter to Liberty Media's aim to increase F1's exposure in the U.S.

Stay tuned.

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