Former Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan says that the the new Formula 1 track currently under construction at Miami International Autodrome features a “great layout” and will be a strong addition to the F1 calendar.
“I’ve been there twice, when it was pretty basic, but I’m going to drive it next week when it’s ready,” he told Motorsport.com at a reception in Miami’s Design District this week.
“They’ve made a really good job of the track, on paper it looks a great layout,” said Sullivan, who won the Indy 500 in 1885 and clinched the CART championship with Penske in 1988.
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Sullivan also competed in Formula 1 for a season in 1983 with the Benetton-sponsored Tyrrell team, but finished in the points only once in Monaco in a campaign marred by seven retirements and a disqualification in Canada for an underweight car.
Since retiring from competitive motorsport, he has served as the drivers representative on the stewards’ panel for several Grand Prix races.
Sullivan is pleased the race finally got the go-ahead after a protracted battle to win approval from local authorities in the city which meant the initial idea of running on the waterfront and over bridges had to be rethought.
“When you think back to all the politics, I think it’s a great solution because they were never going to get a street race approved downtown.
“In this day and age, it’s so difficult with the noise and complaining residents, even though it’s in May when it’s pretty quiet in Miami.
“I like what they’ve got there,” Sullivan said of the final design centred on the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens which is home to the city’s NFL team the Miami Dolphins.
“I’ve never liked ‘roval’-style tracks, apart from Daytona, because it’s always a compromise,” he said of the 3.36-mile, 19-turn track. “But what you do have around stadiums is infrastructure, and that helps a lot.
“Getting people in and out is a big factor, and it’s in a great position near the end of the Turnpike there.”
The inaugural race in May will be the the first of two Grands Prix of 2022 to be held in the United States. F1 will also return to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas later in the year after 2021’s event attracted 400,000 spectators.
The Miami race in May is already a sell-out. For Sullivan, it’s confirmation of the rise in popularity in the sport in the US after years of struggling to raise its profile.
“Credit where credit is due, the growth in America is all due to Drive to Survive,” said Sullivan, referring to the popular behind-the-scenes Netflix documentary.
“Sean Bratches was the brain behind it,” he added, referring to F1’s former managing director of commercial operations. “[F1] paid for it, Netflix didn’t, and it has influenced America because of how well it’s been done.”
The first Miami GP is scheduled to take place on 6-8 May. A final layer of asphalt was put down at the weekend, and construction is reported to be running ahead of schedule.
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