Lando love-in: Miami winner saluted by fans, drivers and rival F1 team boss


From the Miami paddock: Chris Medland's Grand Prix diary on a tide of popular support for debut F1 winner Lando Norris; questions over Logan Sargeant's future at his home race — as well as Carlos Sainz and Adrian Newey; plus rare good news for Alpine

Montage of drivers congratulating Lando Norris on winning 2024 F1 Miami GP

Lando love-in: drivers and Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur congratulate Norris on his maiden GP win

The sprint proved to be a precursor in more ways than one as Red Bull didn’t disappear into the distance on Saturday and had the same issue on Sunday. But there were plenty more storylines moving on in the paddock in Miami, even if the celebrations at McLaren will gain the most attention.


Norris proves his popularity

Lando Norris’s first victory felt like a long time coming, especially after he came so close to winning in Russia back in 2021 but also as a result of the eight second-place finishes he’d amassed prior to Sunday.

For many fans it was popular, but his standing among his fellow drivers was made clear by the way that so many approached Norris immediately after the race to offer their congratulations. After fellow podium-finishers Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Daniel Ricciardo all went out of their way to find Norris after exiting their cars.

Team bosses were also keen to praise the 24-year-old, with Fred Vasseur even infiltrating the swarm of photographers and camera crews capturing the post-race celebrations, so he could then spray champagne over Norris himself.

It might have taken 110 races, and we might be in the midst of Red Bull dominance, but it certainly feels like the first of many.


Williams chases Antonelli

If Logan Sargeant thought he’d get to enjoy some extra attention at his home race, he will have been disappointed when the focus was on him for a different reason.

The FIA confirmed a request had been made for Andrea Kimi Antonelli to be granted special dispensation and receive a Super Licence that would allow him to race in Formula 1 before he turns 18. Due to the existing regulations, the Italian talent currently can’t do so before his home race in Monza in September, but after Miami there are still nine races between now and then.

Kimi Antonelli in Prema F2 garage

Antonelli becomes eligible for a super licence at the end of August. But WIlliams has asked if he can have one sooner…

Mike Owen/F1 via Getty Images

Speaking to Toto Wolff, however, it became clear that the request did not come from Mercedes — as a team keen to try and protect Antonelli’s development — but instead it was lodged by Williams.

James Vowles wouldn’t comment directly on the request itself, but says he is thinking about what the driver line-up might look like for 2025 and 2026, as he wants to ensure continuity across the change in regulations.

Although Vowles insisted there was no immediate threat to Sargeant’s seat, the mere fact the request has been made would suggest otherwise, as it would open up the potential to replace the American — who had a much stronger weekend than team-mate Alex Albon — prior to Monza.

Similarly, Wolff’s comments seem strange in the sense that he would surely have known about Vowles’ request, and the impression is he would still have an interest in seeing how Antonelli performs in F1 machinery even if he didn’t instigate the situation himself.


Sainz and Newey playing the market

Carlos Sainz in blue shirt and cap at the 2024 F1 Miami Grand Prix

Sainz is still keeping his options open


There was a report in the Spanish press that Carlos Sainz had turned down an Audi seat ahead of this weekend, but sources soon confirmed that not to be the case.

Sainz and his team are not turning anything down at this stage, but also not being pressured into any early decisions as they are keen to see if Verstappen will opt to move to Mercedes, and the associated knock-on impact of that situation.

But Williams appears to be one of the options on the table that holds intrigue if the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes and Audi don’t work out timing-wise, with growing confidence in the powertrain coming out of Brixworth.

Adrian Newey talks to Piero ferrari on the F1 grid ahead of 2024 Miami GP

Future boss? Newey talks to Ferrari vice chairman Piero Ferrari on the Miami grid

Getty via Red Bull

Perhaps that is another aspect that played a role in Adrian Newey’s departure from Red Bull, and he too is playing a similar game to Sainz. While the smart money remains on a Ferrari tie-up, Newey insists he hasn’t yet made a decision, keeping all options open.

The only difference is the longer Newey waits, the better the deal he is likely to command, whereas Sainz’s play comes fraught with more risk.


Andretti on the ground again

I was in America early ahead of Miami getting the chance to drive at Circuit of the Americas, and ironically the man who gave his name to the school I was attending – Skip Barber – was hinting at a brewing storm.

Barber told SpeedCity Radio that he’d been chatting to Mario Andretti and heard the US Government were looking to get involved in the team’s attempts to join the F1 grid. It seemed far-fetched, but on Wednesday it was proven to be true.

Mario Andretti on the F1 grid ahead of 2024 Miami GP

Mario Andretti on the grid in Miami

Grand Prix Photo

Multiple members of Congress signed a letter to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, questioning the reasons for so far not granting Andretti an entry, and citing “apparent anti-competitive actions”.

It was a move that did not go down well with Stefano Domenicali and Formula One Management (FOM), but Michael Andretti distanced himself from the situation in Miami, saying it was not one instigated by the team.

The Andrettis were at the race for discussions with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem – preaching to the already converted in that case – but had also held talks with FOM weeks earlier. And while there wasn’t a huge amount in terms of news to report, Michael Andretti insists he feels closer to gaining a place on the grid than he did on either of his previous visits to Miami.


Watch out for Alpine’s women

Abbi Pulling holds up winners trophy from F1 Academy 2024 Miami round with Bianca Bustamante and Doriane Pin on either side

F1 Academy’s top three from the second Miami race: Pulling is flanked by Bustamante (left and Pin

Pauline Ballet/F1 via Getty Images

F1 Academy put on a show in Miami as the race looked to increase its focus on the on-track action with more support races, and the early predictions of Doriane Pin’s dominance were totally dismissed as Abbi Pulling swept qualifying and both races.

More than that, Pin was second in race one but beaten by Bianca Bustamante in race two, as the extra testing saw other drivers close the gap since Jeddah.

It marked a win for an Alpine-supported driver, and one that the team put down in part to Pulling being able to spend more time behind the wheel as part of her British F4 program this year.

That wasn’t the only success story for Alpine’s driver academy either, with 12-year-old Sukhmani Kaur Khera securing the fastest time in her qualifying group at the IAME Euro Series round at Franciacorta in Italy.

Finishing eighth overall in the A-final, Khera’s performances caught the team’s eye in Miami throughout the weekend, as it commits significant backing to its RacHer program. Promising signs all round.


Miami still growing as Lando ends Max’s dominance

A lot has been made of the impact that Verstappen’s dominance might be having on the US market, after such a major focus on North America since Liberty Media took control of F1.

Questions were being asked in the lead-up to Miami about whether the sport was seeing a decline in interest, but while it’s only natural that there will be greater attention paid when there is a true title fight unfolding, the signs at Hard Rock Stadium were positive.

Lando Norris leads Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc ahead of 2024 F1 Miami GP restart

Another record crowd for Miami race

Pauline Ballet/F1 via Getty Images

The race’s president Tyler Epp told me ahead of the weekend that they were on track to set another attendance record, and that wasn’t just an optimistic outlook as it duly delivered with a total of 275,000 over the three days. While the increase was only 5,000 compared to 2023, that’s due to the circuit aiming for incremental steps when expanding capacity to ensure the venue can handle the numbers.

More encouraging was how F1 has moved forward as a whole. Circuit of the Americas regularly cited the struggles it faced from year three onwards — so 2014 — as Mercedes’ dominance kicked in and the novelty of the event wore off. Well, we’ve had Red Bull dominance throughout the Miami spell so far, but the demand for tickets has remained strong.

A grand prix is now so much more than just a race that fans can still be attracted to the wider event regardless of the on-track situation, but it certainly didn’t hurt for the fans watching on television that Verstappen was beaten and did not have the fastest car for much of Sunday.

Ferrari fans with hats in the shape of cars in 2024 F1 Miami GP crowd

Ferrari fans reacted quickly to team's one-off blue theme

Miami GP fans watch 2024 race from cabanas

Cabana corner: fans in the expensive seats

Baku and Vegas are examples of two rounds that benefitted from exciting races early on and will be able to pull in slightly more interested viewers as a result, because the circuits have proven they can deliver excitement on-track. That doesn’t mean they will every year, but they have the potential.

Miami continues to grow as an event even after Vegas’s arrival on the calendar, but now has a more intriguing race to add to its appeal for fans following from afar. There’s plenty that the sport can improve on, but it continues to pull in big numbers for race weekends.