Formula 1 is the only open wheel circuit taking to the streets of South Beach this weekend, but they are not the only ones on in the F1 family racing. F1 Academy will have their second weekend of races in Valencia, Spain on Saturday and Sunday, with qualifying taking place Friday. During Thursday’s testing, the two fastest laps were put in by the Al Qubaisi sisters, with Amna putting in a 1:34:143 second only to Hamda who finished her best lap in 1:34:071. Among the three other fastest racers in practice, it should come as no surprise Abbi Pulling is in the group, as is the Championship leader Marta Gacia, racing on her home track. In fifth is a fellow Spaniard who calls Valencia home in Merea Marti.
It would almost be a shock to see Garcia not secure at least one pole and one race win, but the other four are clearly excellent competition for her this weekend, as is the rest of the field, as every team scored at least a point in the first weekend of the F1 Academy, and there were seven different people who stepped onto the podium a week ago.
Clearly the focus this weekend will be on the streets surrounding Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, and even plenty of focus inside the stadium as the Paddock has been moved onto the football field this weekend. Last season was the inaugural race for F1 in Miami, and it was pretty well dominated by Max Verstappen who won the race and secured the fastest lap. The other two podium spots belonged to Ferrari as Charles Leclerc finished second after securing pole in qualifying, and Carlos Sainz finished third.
After seeing what the Red Bulls did this past weekend in Baku, it is hard pressed to believe they won’t finish 1-2 yet again this weekend, where I would anticipate seeing Verstappen defending his title with Sergio Perez finishing second. In a single lap setting, Charles Leclerc certainly has an argument to be the best in the sport and expect to see him prove it again by being the pole sitter, but ultimately falling down to third again this weekend.
Currently the weather looks like it will be kind as the highs are in the mid-80s all weekend with limited chances of rain, so we should see slicks all weekend long. In the first race most teams went with a single stop strategy going from mediums to hards, and we will probably see another single stop weekend.
One driver to really keep an eye on is going to be Logan Sargeant as it will be his first home circuit race and he is one of two racers still without a point this season. He had a good showing in qualifying in Baku, but the pressure of a home circuit is always tough, but it would make for a great story as Sargeant is the first American to take the cockpit of an F1 car in 8 seasons.