Last week marked the 2nd annual Miami F1 Grand Prix, and what a week it was! As a new F1 fan, I was thrilled when they announced a few years ago that the F1 circus would be coming to my hometown.
I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to witness it up close. While I believe there was more fanfare for last year's inaugural race, this year's event still had plenty to offer. It was interesting to see how things had changed from one year to the next.
Here's a rundown of the events I attended in Miami during the week leading up to the Grand Prix:
IWC Chrono Challenge
Red Bull Make YourMark
Aston Martin I/AM fan event
Williams F1 Fan Zone
A conversation with F1 journalist Will Buxton
McLaren F1 Racing Lounge
IWC Chrono Challenge - IWC featuring Sir Lewis Hamilton of MERCEDES AMG organized in partnership with local nonprofit Dibia DREAM and Laureus Sport for Good.
I had an incredible experience at the IWC Chrono Challenge, which was organized in partnership with local nonprofit Dibia DREAM and featured Sir Lewis Hamilton of MERCEDES AMG. The event was impeccably organized, and the branding was amazing.
IWC Schaffhausen is a luxury watchmaker from Switzerland that has been manufacturing elegant and professional instrument watches for over 150 years. The brand is also committed to sustainability and partners with global organizations to support children and young people. For this event, IWC partnered with Dibia Dream, a non-profit that provides a safe place for underserved youth after school and during summers, using STEM and sports to teach life skills and promote mentorship, participation, and diverse opportunities.
IWC created a full-size basketball court for this event, which was placed in the Jungle Plaza area of Miami's Design District, as well as a huge mural of Lewis Hamilton, an IWC brand ambassador, wearing the newly announced Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ team watch that comes with a Miami Pink rubber strap. The basketball-themed event featured famous athletes and celebrities and was only open to media and invited guests, but you could still catch the action from the sidelines.
Sir Lewis Hamilton captained the Pink team, which also included Canadian actor Simu Liu, former NFL player Antrel Rolle, Hollywood actor James Marsden, Olympic skateboarder Jagger Eaton, and Dibia Dream founder and CEO Brandon Okpalobi. F1 legend David Coulthard was the official referee of the game and plenty of recognizable F1 journalists from around the world were also there.
In addition to the game, the kids got to shoot around and spend time with Lewis Hamilton, and Dibia Dream coordinated a series of talks and educational activities. IWC will also donate the basketball court to Dibia DREAM and the City of Miami, which is a great gesture.
Overall, it was an amazing event, and I feel lucky to have been a part of it. The basketball court was a unique touch, and the partnership with Dibia Dream highlighted IWC's commitment to sustainability and supporting young people.
MORE ABOUT DIBIA DREAM FROM THEIR SITE:
Founded in 2014, Dibia DREAM provides a safe place after school, on the weekends and in the summer with caring, responsible role models and engaging activities. Dibia DREAM was created to spark social change through hands-on, engaging STEM education for historically underserved youth and their families. Over 40,000 scholars worldwide have engaged with the nonprofit in-person or online. Its programs use STEM and sports as instruments to teach life skills and promote mentorship, active participation, and exposure to diverse opportunities through its 5 pillar program. The goal is to enrich youth across the world through transformative experiences.
MORE ABOUT LAUREUS FROM THEIR SITE
Laureus is a global movement that uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people. In 2000, Laureus’ founding patron Nelson Mandela said ‘sport has the power to change the world’, and these words have become the philosophy of Laureus and the driving force behind its work. Since 2000, Laureus Sport for Good has used the power of sport to overcome violence, discrimination and inequality, changing the lives of over six and half million children and young people. Laureus Sport for Good currently supports more than 275 programmes in over 50 countries and territories.
More links if you want to dive deeper into that event:
Aston Martin I / AM Fan Event
Aston Martin really stepped up in a big way this year for their fans and I was lucky enough to attend one of their events. After arriving at the Wynwood Padel Club, coincidentally the same place where I play padel, all I could see was a sea of dark green merch sporting fans! And one of my favorite F1 content creators, Toni Cowan Brown, aka F1Toni on Tik tok, was the MC of the event. If you aren’t following her, feel free to start now; she really knows her stuff and has a great perspective on the sport, talking often about big themes like how F1 intersects with culture, politics, and tech. And she is the nicest person too.
She did a great job of kicking off the event with some Aston Martin trivia, and buying some time since Alonso was late (obvio!), with winning answers getting a free bucket hat, totally on-trend.
Next up was an interview with Pedro De La Rosa, Aston Martin Ambassador, former F1 driver who still holds the fastest lap record at the Bahrain International Circuit, and all-around nice guy, and Felipe Drugovich, F2 champ and reserve driver.
After that, we headed to the padel courts to watch some exhibition matches with Alonso and De La Rosa taking on two Sky Sports F1 presenters and officiated by none other than Martin Brundle. And then Alonso played alongside Juan Martin Del Potro, former Pro-Tennis player who won the US Open in 2009.
Special thanks to Motorsports Culture Collective for including me in this event. If you don’t know, Motorsports Culture Collective is dedicated to bringing more diversity to motorsports. Another part of the I/AM series of events included a special outing for a group of 30 students from Florida Memorial University that took them into the paddock for a chance to hear directly from team engineers, mechanics, and strategists who shared insights on STEM-related careers. Check out a video about that here and follow MCC here.
Williams F1 Fan Zone
Over the past two years, I have attended four Grand Prix races - twice in Austin and twice in Miami. Every time, Williams has put together amazing popup experiences for their fans, and I have to hand it to them for that. They really put a lot of effort into creating opportunities for fans to connect with them, their drivers, and their team. Not many teams are as committed to doing as much for their fans with such immersive experiences that are totally open to the public.
It's especially great to see how kid-friendly these pop-up events are, making it easier than ever to introduce young ones to the joys of this thrilling sport. Check out their site, or app, for upcoming events near you.
Last year, before the Miami GP, they took over a storefront on Lincoln Road, and this year, they took over an art gallery in Miami Beach. Although last year’s event space was larger, it seems they were able to pack even more into this year’s space. Here’s a full list of what they had to offer us fans:
- Two different F1 show cars - one in Williams colors and one with a very cool Miami Vice-style livery
- A whole room for sim racing with six different Esports rigs - these are a huge hit with my son
- Team merch, including a limited-edition Miami Collection
- Q&As with Alex Albon, Logan Sargeant, James Vowles, Jenson Button, and Amy Chadwick!
- Lots of cool murals and art by Miami locals
- Free beer by Michelob Ultra!
- Bremont watch display & watchmaker's desk
- Interactive digital Graffiti Wall by Kraken - kids loved playing with this
- A real-life Batak reaction time machine - I had a blast playing with this!
Overall, Williams truly delivers when it comes to creating unforgettable experiences for their fans, and makes it accessible and kid friendly!
A Conversation with F1 Journalist Will Buxton at Faena Miami Beach
Attending the event hosted by the Faena Rose Society and moderated by Matt Haggman was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been there. Prior to the interview, I had the pleasure of meeting Will Buxton himself, and when I introduced myself, he greeted me with a warm hug and praised my books. I was, and still am, in shock. It was a truly special moment, and I was blown away by Will's graciousness and hospitality. As a huge part of my F1 education, it was a privilege to meet him and talk about our shared passion for the sport.
The interview was incredibly insightful, with Will sharing some insider intel on how F1 is changing, as well as various team and driver dynamics. Matt Haggman did an excellent job of guiding the conversation, and we shared plenty of laughs, culminating in a funny viral video of Will Buxton dancing. It was a memorable evening that I will cherish forever.
During the event, Will also shared some exciting news about the upcoming Brad Pitt Apple F1 movie set to be released next year. He even revealed that Brad Pitt will be driving at the Silverstone Grand Prix weekend this year, which is just incredible. I have a feeling this movie i going to be huge!
I was fortunate enough to score a ticket to this exclusive event through BOXBOX, a new kind of car club in Miami of which I am a founding member. Unlike your typical gearhead and supercar type of car club, BOXBOX is more inclusive and welcoming, and not about showing off. It's about building a community across a variety of interests related to racing, cars, and the future of mobility. Its mission is to democratize the car club experience by being more inclusive and crowd-collecting quirky, cool, and fun-to-drive cars. If you're in Miami and want to join, check it out here .
Red Bull Make Your Mark Fan Livery Showcase
If you haven't heard, Red Bull Racing hosted a contest where fans could submit livery designs for the Miami Grand Prix, and before the race, they took over an art gallery space in Wynwood to showcase the top designs, all submitted by fans.
The event was held at Black Dove Gallery in Wynwood, where the top designs were displayed on very cool vertical screens, showing the cars in their fan-designed liveries spinning so that you could see the full 360 view of the designs.
A graphic design student from Argentina named Martina Andriano won the competition, which was selected by Christian Horner and other members of the Red Bull organization.
If you want to participate, great news! They will be doing it again for the Austin race and the Las Vegas one as well. So get your art supplies out and get started because if your design is chosen, you will get an all-expenses-paid trip to the race to see your design up close and personal and meet the drivers, just like Martina did in Miami. Check it out here.
McLaren F1 Racing Lounge
I recently attended McLaren's 'racing lounge' in Brickell City Centre during my trip to Miami, and I have to admit, I was a bit underwhelmed. In comparison, to the epic multiday fan event they put on last year before the Miami GP, which featured a special merch store, loads of McLaren and other cool cars all kitted out with Miami liveries, on top of Formula 1, Indy Car and Formula E show cars, and sims and other fun activities, this year's event felt lacking.
The installation was more of a mall exhibit, with just a model car, some motorcycle helmets painted in McLaren Miami style, and a few other items showcased in windowed stands surrounded by seating. As a big fan of this marketing powerhouse F1 team, I was hoping for a more immersive and engaging experience.