(CNN) — Formula One could be coming to downtown Miami for the first time as soon as next year.
The sport’s owners, Liberty Media, have long sought to expand F1’s American footprint and Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations, revealed Thursday they had received “preliminary approval.”
Further discussion will now take place between the owners, FIA — motorsport’s governing body — and Miami city authorities, with an inaugural Miami Grand Prix potentially taking place in October 2019.
“We recognize that this is only the start of the process and we will immediately get to work with the various community stakeholders…in order to reach a final agreement,” said Bratches in a statement.
“Formula 1 in Miami represents a fantastic opportunity to bring the greatest racing spectacle on the planet to one of the world’s most iconic cities, and we are delighted that the journey is underway.”
Miami’s mayor Francis Suarez expressed happiness that the City of Miami Commission voted unanimously to approve legislation allowing further discussions to begin.
“This is an important step in bringing to Miami one of the most popular sports in the world,” tweeted Suarez.
Details of the proposed 2.57 mile (4.14km) circuit were revealed on May 3 by Miami city commissioner Ken Russell, with drivers taking in views of the city’s port, crossing the Port Boulevard bridge and circumnavigating the American Airlines Arena, home to NBA side The Miami Heat.
‘Could be more fun’
The notion of a Miami Grand Prix has been widely praised by both drivers and fans, with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas saying it will be “good for F1” before admitting “the destination is always a bonus.”
But not everyone is overly enamored with the track itself.
Having told CNN in April that Miami would be the location of his “dream” circuit, Lewis Hamilton lamented the lack of driver consultation in the plans, pointing out golfers are regularly asked for input on courses.
The likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam have frequently overseen the design of new courses around the world.
“I don’t get why, for example, in golf you get all the great golfers who design golf courses, and then you’ve not got any of the top racing drivers ever in history who ever designed a race track,” the four-time world champion told reporters before this weekend’s Spanish GP.
“Not that we’re designers or anything, but we’ve not been asked for our input or anything like that.”
The reigning world champion, who currently tops the drivers’ standings despite an inconsistent start to the season, went on to say the prospective circuit “could be a lot more fun,” adding he could think of more appropriate locations in the city.
“Miami is a super cool place, and I was very, very excited to hear about it…and then I saw the layout,” said the Briton.
“I dread the thought of a street circuit like we had with Valencia, which wasn’t really a great street circuit. It can be very hit and miss, but maybe it’s a hit.”
The 33-year-old insisted he didn’t want to “make an assumption” before driving it, but said he would be happy to provide “insight” into the layout and “how it could be better,” if asked.
There has never been an F1 race in Miami, with Austin, Texas, the only US city hosting an event at present.
One of the supporters of the new proposal is Stephen Ross, owner of NFL franchise Miami Dolphins and a key figure in moving the Miami Open tennis tournament to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019.
“Miami is a first-class global city and Formula One is a first-class global brand,” Ross said in a statement.
“In cooperation with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County, I am confident we can deliver yet another global event that will be a destination for people from around the world and drive economic value to South Florida.”
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