Formula 1: Storylines to watch ahead of the 2024 Miami Grand Prix

Formula 1 is back in the United States.

Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix is the first of three races in the United States in 2024, with races in Austin and Las Vegas to come in the fall. And, you guessed it, Max Verstappen is the overwhelming favorite to win.

Verstappen has won the first two Miami races and started ninth in 2023 on his way to victory. He’s taken the checkered flag in four of the first five races so far this season and it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t win on Sunday.

Here’s what you need to know for the race weekend ahead of the 4 p.m. ET race on ABC.

Miami will host a sprint race weekend for the first time this year. And the sprint format is a bit different in 2024. On Friday, teams will have one practice session before qualifying for the sprint race.

Saturday, the sprint race happens at 12 p.m. ET before qualifying for the Grand Prix at 4 p.m.

A season ago, Grand Prix qualifying was held on Fridays after a practice session, with sprint qualifying held on Saturdays before the sprint race. The change for 2024 allows teams to collect data from sprint qualifying and the sprint race itself for qualifying for the Grand Prix.

Saturday’s sprint race is 19 laps.

If you want to bet Verstappen to win Sunday’s Grand Prix, you’re not going to make much money if your bet cashes.

Verstappen is -550 at BetMGM to win his fifth race of the season. If you bet $10 on Verstappen to win, you’ll win an incredible $1.82 on that bet.

Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez is the No. 2 favorite at +800. You’d win $80 on a $10 bet if Perez won the race.

That’s a nice profit. And it’s still a nice profit if you take Perez and the 18 other drivers in the field against Verstappen. Picking any other driver to win the race is +325. That’s how much of a favorite the three-time champion is.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - MAY 7: Driver Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing F1 Team competes during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at the Miami International Autodrome on May 07, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida, United States. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategul T/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Max Verstappen has won the first two Miami Grand Prix races. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategul T/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Last week, reports emerged that Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey would be leaving the team in the wake of the controversy surrounding team principal Christian Horner. Newey is one of the greatest F1 car designers ever. His cars have won championships at Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. He’s been with Red Bull since 2006 and the team has won six Constructor titles during his tenure.

An official announcement of Newey’s departure could come before the Miami Grand Prix. If and when he leaves the team, a bidding war is destined to ensue among Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin.

There’s a three-way tie in the odds for No. 3 favorite behind the two Red Bull drivers. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are at +1600 along with McLaren’s Lando Norris. Fernando Alonso is at +3300 in his Aston Martin, while the two Mercedes drivers, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, are at +4000 to win.

Sainz, the driver being replaced at Ferrari by Hamilton in 2025, is the only non-Verstappen driver to win a race this season. He won the Australian Grand Prix after Verstappen was forced to retire from the race with an early brake issue. So far this season, Sainz has been faster than Leclerc.

Logan Sargeant’s second season in F1 has been incredibly rough. The only American driver in the field has finished no better than 14th so far this season and the Chinese Grand Prix was his first lead-lap finish. He also missed the Australian Grand Prix after Williams didn’t have a spare chassis available and teammate Alex Albon crashed his car. With Albon being the team’s lead driver, Williams elected to put Albon in Sargeant’s car for the race and Sargeant was sidelined.

The Florida native finished 20th out of 20 cars in his first Miami Grand Prix a year ago, and it’s hard to see how he’ll do significantly better in 2024. Williams has failed to score a point so far this season, and Sargeant’s average finish of 17th is the worst in F1.