Formula 1: The Miami Grand Prix experience, from the eyes of a fan

This past weekend, I had the unforgettable opportunity to attend the 2024 Miami Grand Prix and sat in a grandstand with a perfect view of turns 11, 12, and 13.
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Formula 1
Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc, Formula 1 / Anadolu/GettyImages
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Gates opened much earlier to fans on Saturday, as people were allowed to enter from about 9:30 a.m. ET. I had quite a bit of time to explore the entirety of the campus, as the Formula 1 Academy qualifying session was not until 10:25 a.m. ET.

While discovering the area, I was able to walk through the Porsche Carrera Cup paddock and get a great view of the Academy paddock as well, as fans were not allowed to enter. I was able to see Lola Lovinfosse and Amna Al Qubaisi walking around near their cars and getting ready for qualifying.

With all Academy cars being the same, it was nice to watch a series where there was no overwhelming favorite. However, Britain’s Abbi Pulling, sponsored by Alpine, showed off her pace and secured pole position for both races during the weekend. Her two best laps that secured the double pole were nearly half a second ahead of the competition.

With the Formula 1 sprint race set to take place shortly thereafter, I was extremely excited to see actual racing in front of my own eyes. It was exciting to see Lewis Hamilton improve from his grid position and finish in the points, but due to speeding in the pit lane, a 20-second time penalty was given upon conclusion of the race, dropping him to 16th place.

The crowd was also behind Logan Sargeant, as he grew up very close to Miami Gardens. The American finished 10th after starting 18th on the grid.

Something I noticed throughout the weekend was the massive support for Sergio Perez, as chants of “Checo!” could be heard all around. It made sense, given that there is a fairly large Spanish-speaking population in the local area.

The best part of the sprint race was the intense battle between Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz Jr. Despite the Ferrari being considerably faster than the RB, Ricciardo did a fantastic job defending his position on several occasions. His fourth place finish led to the crowd roaring for the Australian, and it even had me cheering loudly.

The first Academy race of the weekend began about an hour later, and I was very excited to watch, despite much of the stands being empty. Pulling dominated the race and won with about a 5.3-second gap over Doriane Pin. I honestly felt like I was watching the female version of Max Verstappen with her pace being considerably faster than the other 14 drivers.

All eyes were on Chloe Chambers, as the American driver had most of the support. Among the fans who were watching, we all roared when the Haas-sponsored driver crossed the finish line in third.

Formula 1’s qualifying session for Sunday’s race followed and I was hoping to see some solid pace from Mercedes. The top 10 was not too surprising, and I was fairly pleased to see Russell and Hamilton qualifying in seventh and eighth, respectively. Seeing Fernando Alonso qualify 15th and behind teammate Lance Stroll was something no one expected, given how well the 42-year-old has done recently.