Miami F1 Festival thrills 80,000 fans

While the United States Grand Prix ran in Austin, the fifth Formula 1 festival took place in downtown Miami, featuring show runs by Emerson Fittipaldi, Takuma Sato and more.

Last weekend, Formula 1 held the fifth edition of one of its popular fan festivals. After London, Shanghai, Marseilles and Milan, this time the fast-paced entertainment was presented to fans in Miami. According to Formula 1 figures, 80,000 people flocked to Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami on Saturday to enjoy the free entertainment program.

The focus was on show runs by Formula 1 cars from different eras. Renault test driver Jack Aitken drove a Renault-liveried Lotus E20 from the 2012 season. Patrick Friesacher steered a Red Bull RB7 from the 2011 season. And while these two Formula 1 cars with V8 engines thrilled the fans especially thanks to their noise, there was much more to admire and listen to.

IndyCar driver Takuma Sato, having won the 2017 Indianapolis 500, drove a 50-year-old Honda RA301 equipped with a V12 engine. The car had been piloted by John Surtees in the 1968 Formula 1 season. “Back in 1968, there’s no seat belt”, Sato said in an interview with, speaking particularly enthusiastic about the V12: “The engine is simply beautiful – a masterpiece.”

Emerson Fittipaldi

Photo by: Robert Lyon

And Miami-based two-time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi drove the Ford Cosworth V8 equipped McLaren M23, in which he had won his second F1 world title in 1974. “[It is] very emotional to me to drive a Formula 1 [car] in Miami. I never expected that.” Fittipaldi said in an interview with and felt immediately turned back in time to the good old days. “Even the smell is the same inside the cockpit,” the 71-year-old Brazilian laughed.

“The F1 Miami Festival is all about giving our fans the opportunity to get closer to the teams, cars and drivers they love,” explains Sean Bratches, Managing Director, Commercial Operations at Formula 1. 

Race Of Champions President Fredrik Johnsson who joined the spectators on Saturday and was just as impressed as them, described Fittipaldi’s appearance in the M23 as the “highlight of the day”.

The fact that on Saturday alone, 80,000 fans followed the action in Downtown Miami, is “great” according to Bratches. He thanks the local authorities for the smooth running of the event: “It would not be possible without the support of the Miami City and County authorities, the Miami Police Department and the other emergency services who have supported us throughout the weekend.”

In addition to the loud show runs of the F1 cars that also included donuts on the closed part of Biscayne Boulevard, super sports cars, such as the McLaren Senna, were also given a run. Apart from that, the Miami F1 festival thrilled the fans with stunt shows as well as exhibited show cars and also musical entertainment.

Takuma Sato, Honda

Photo by: Robert Lyon

Abraham Mateo and Silk City performed on Saturday night at Bayfront Park just after the qualifying for the US Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin had been shown live on a big screen. Then on Sunday, being the second day of the Miami F1 festival, the race from Austin featuring Kimi Raikkonen’s first victory in over five years was shown live.

Bratches’ final thanks goes out to everyone involved: “A huge thank you to our global partners, the F1 teams who provided the cars and most importantly, the people of Miami for the opportunity to put on such an ambitious event.”

Looking forward to the 2020 Formula 1 season, efforts are being made to host a Grand Prix in Miami. The first draft of a track layout provides for a course in close proximity to Bayfront Park. “I think a Miami Grand Prix would be the Monaco of Americas,” Emerson Fittipaldi said, being convinced of the potential of the possible newest addition to the Formula 1 calendar. The fans attending the Miami F1 festival over the weekend certainly were impressed.

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