Andretti secures McLaren 2022 F1 seat: Miami GP what you missed


Andretti to McLaren, Red Bull getting its lines crossed and a greying FIA area – here's what you might have missed at the Miami GP

Mario Andretti, portrait during the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix 2022, 5th round of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship, on the Miami International Autodrome, from May 6 to 8, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida, United States of America - Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Mario Andretti still has a need for speed – and Zak Brown just might be able to help him out

Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

The Formula 1 performance pendulum is now swinging not just from race to race, but session to session.

Ferrari appeared to have the weekend in its pocket in practice and qualifying but, as detailed below, once Red Bull got its hydraulics house in order, it was a different story on Sunday.

Anyone who was anyone – both motor sport and otherwise – appeared to be at the race too. But despite all of the eyeballs on the action, there were a few stories that you may well have missed:


Mario to McLaren – confirmed!

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 08: Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing talk on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 08, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

F1 royalty past and present on the Miami grid

Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

We all know that McLaren boss Zak Brown loves a deal: Daniel Ricciardo got to take Dale Earnhardt’s ’84 Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR for a spin as a reward for claiming a podium, and Pato O’Ward was handed an F1 test drive for winning his debut IndyCar victory. Now there’s a new wager on the table.

When Martin Brundle asked Mario Andretti on the Miami grid if he still shared that mutual hankering for racing, the motor sport legend replied: “Oh yes of course, there’s always a bit of an itch to scratch somehow.”

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When Brundle then wondered if Andretti thought he could handle a 2022 ground-effect F1 beast, the 82-year-old- was unequivocal.

“I’d get in one if they’d allow me,” he said. “It’s been on my bucket-list for quite a while before I get too old, so I can step over the cockpit.”

Brundle then threw this over to the McLaren head honcho, who quite simply couldn’t resist.

“Well, I’ve always wanted Mario Andretti to drive for me, so you know what? I think we’ll give it a go in Austin, but we’ll have to figure out some sort of bet, because that’s what I do with my drivers,” Brown replied, right on cue, before the pair shook on it.

As Andretti yelped with delight at the prospect, one can only imagine that a green Emerson Fittipaldi seethed just out of camera shot – to be fair, he has driven a McLaren before.


Michael on the move

Slightly more in the here and now of F1, Mario’s son Michael – a former McLaren driver himself from a brief ’93 spell –was spotted at various team bases in the paddock, holding what appeared to be a petition.

Father Mario revealed in February that the family race team, already a force to be reckoned with in IndyCar, Aussie V8 supercars, Formula E and Extreme E, now wanted to enter F1.

Some team bosses were less than warm to the idea, Toto Wolff among the most critical of the Indianapolis organisation entering – reiterating this last week when he said that Andretti “hadn’t demonstrated” that it could add to the sport.

With F1 moving to a franchise business model, teams’ respective values have shot up, with current entrants now reluctant to let us others join the championship as a result and further divide the revenue.

The FIA had also announced it was “not in a position to currently consider” any new entries, but Michael appears undeterred.

Some eagle-eyed journalists believed they could identify the signatures of a number of team bosses on the document he had in his hand, including Zak Brown and Alpine boss Laurent Rossi.

“I’ve talked to Michael, it goes along with the expansion in the US and I think would contribute to the show,” Rossi said, speaking in Miami.

“An American team would directly generate interest in the US, and therefore revenue.

“Then we need to demonstrate that it’s enough to compensate for the dilution that Toto was mentioning.

“Gut feeling, I think it would. But let’s do the job properly and we’ll see.”


Forgetting your lines

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen arrives at the pits during the first practice for the Miami Formula One Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome in Miami Gardens, Florida, on May 6, 2022. (Photo by Chandan Khanna / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Red Bull charged to the front wasn’t issues were solved


Max Verstappen ultimately won out in Miami but he had a rocky road en route to victory. This was particularly the case in FP2, when the Red Bull driver found himself barely able to steer, only completing one lap all session.

Described as a “hydraulic issue” (that much was obvious), we now know the reason for it.

Verstappen had to have a gearbox change after overheating issues were detected at the end of FP1 then, as pointed out in Mark Hughes’ column, his team actually fitted a hydraulic line incorrectly in replacing it.

This meant the helpless Dutchman had no steering when he left the pits, before his rear right brake then caught fire due to the lack of cooling caused by going so slowly.

Driver and team managed to get those issues out of their respective systems though, as it all came good on Sunday.


The FIA’s greying area


Mercedes were given the call by FIA for Russell to let Hamilton back past


After an attempted clarification, the FIA’s rules on conceding places gained unfairly seem to have become more confusing.

Last season saw a large number of contentious issues in regard to this, particularly between ’21 title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen, including at the highly controversial Abu Dhabi GP.

At the beginning of this season, the FIA diktat stated that it would be up to teams to decide between themselves if a place had been gained unfairly, and if one driver should have to give it back to the other. Then, after the race, stewards would decide if rules had been adhered to and apply penalties if appropriate.

Five races in and the governing body has already ignored its new guidelines, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. When George Russell first passed his team-mate Hamilton after the safety car restart in Miami, going off the track in the process, the FIA got on the radio to the Silver Arrows and the team were instructed to tell him to give the place back. He did so, but then passed Hamilton again later anyway.


Safety chicanery

lando Norris McLaren 2022 Miami GP

Chicane didn’t find many fans


Drivers repeatedly complained about the uphill, slightly off-camber chicane which represented Turns 14 and 15 at the Miami International Autodrome – comments ranged from “Formula E” to “Mickey Mouse” whilst Hamilton went one better with a comparison particularly close to our hearts, likening the section to driving round a “B&Q car park”.

However, the reason for the left /right appears to have been borne out of the practicalities of building a circuit so close to a city, as revealed by Lando Norris.

“I’ve been told it’s not possible because of the bridge that goes over the top,” he said.

“The cars are only allowed at a certain speed, so therefore they had to put in a chicane. I’m told there was a reason they had to put it in. So maybe we’re kind of stuck with it.

“I hope not. I’m sure there’s some other way around it. But as Daniel said, I don’t think there’s loads of ways around it.”