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Miami Grand Prix 2023

Miami GP address driver criticism: 'A lot weren't happy with Netflix'

The pre-race driver introduction ceremony has led to criticism, but could the idea improve over time like Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive?

Verstappen Miami pre race show
To news overview © XPBimages

Miami Grand Prix Managing Partner Tom Garfinkel has likened the criticism of the event's pre-race pageantry to the initial introduction of Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Drivers were introduced to fans both at the track and at home through a grid ceremony hosted by American actor and musician LL Cool J, accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Will.I.Am.

The pre-race show left the majority of the grid unsatisfied by the "distraction" caused in the build-up to the race - which was eventually won by Red Bull's Max Verstappen - whilst fans reacted negatively on social media to the festival atmosphere created.

"Well ultimately, this is a show," Garfinkel told media, including RacingNews365.com, ahead of Sunday's grand prix.

"There was a lot of people in Formula 1 who probably weren't happy with the Netflix series when it was first announced it was going to happen.

"It has certainly had a positive effect on the entire sport and on everybody.

"Formula 1 and the FIA are very involved in those kinds of things so in terms of what the entertainment is and what we are trying to do pre-race is really more their initiative rather than mine here in Miami.

"When we talked about doing a race in Miami, there was some discussion about them wanting to have more entertainment and more pageantry. That is what we are trying to deliver.

"Ultimately, the competition of the race cars and drivers on track is the most important thing but what happens before that, if we can entertain people and create some pageantry and excitement, I think that's a good thing."

Relevance and popularity

The Miami GP came under fire from fans for its extreme focus on celebrities during its inaugural running, with the hardcore fanbase particularly cautious over preserving the sport's heritage during F1's current popularity boom.

Addressing the vast presence of VIPs, Garfinkel explained: "It is great, people enjoy it.

"It shows the relevance and the popularity of Formula 1 as a sport. We were selling campus passes for $100 for Friday, $200 Saturday and $400 [for the race] so people can come in and experience a lot of different things and we have tried to create a lot of different things for them so they are not just sitting on a grassy knoll somewhere.

"On the other end, this sort of wealth, celebrity, CEO factor is really like nothing I have ever seen at another event and it is fun. It is fun to see those people here and interacting with each other and it is fun to see that many.

"It just shows how popular Formula 1 is right now."

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