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Miami Was Ready For Formula 1, But The Track Wasn’t

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As someone who grew up in the kaleidoscopic fever dream that is Miami, I can confidently say that the city represented itself well as Formula 1 roared into town. This is both high praise and an indictment of how the city works as a representative of American decadence. There were celebrities, perhaps so many that Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle struggled to recognize some of the most famous athletes of the last decade. There was noise pollution that impacted the very real communities surrounding the Miami Dolphins’ stadium compound, all entwined with no small amount of graft by some of Miami’s billionaire class. There was a fake marina, which I went from mocking at the start of the weekend to deeply appreciating by the end. It was an amazingly absurd spectacle of American Epicness, distilled into one weekend, but that’s likely what Formula 1 wanted from its first foray in Miami Gardens.

Unfortunately for those who came to South Florida to watch a race, what was missing was a track worthy of being on the Formula 1 calendar. This wasn’t really a Sunday surprise; as soon as the drivers got out on the Miami International Autodrome on Friday, the complaints began to roll in. The main one, and the one that most affected the race, was that the track surface did not have enough grip outside of the racing line, meaning that drivers trying to swerve outside the well-worn parts of the track to overtake opponents would struggle to brake correctly and in time before one of the twisting sections.

The track surface was called “innovative” prior to the weekend, given that it was made of a mix of granite from Georgia and limestone, which is one of the Miami topography’s defining features. (It’s also why the city is always in danger in flooding, but that’s a story for another day.) Apex Circuit Design, the U.K.-based company in charge of the asphalt, had said before the race that the surface was appropriately abrasive and would provide drivers with plenty of grip with which to overtake. After the initial practice sessions ran their course, that turned out to be a wild miscalculation.

Prior to the race, McLaren driver Lando Norris called the track surface “very bumpy in some areas,” which was not what the drivers were expecting for a new circuit that, in theory, had been perfectly honed for racing quality. Red Bull’s Sergio “Checo” Pérez was less diplomatic in raising his own concerns, calling it a “joke” and saying that the surface was going to cause mistakes as drivers attempted to adjust to race pace alongside the bumps. Fernando Alonso of Alpine echoed his fellow drivers’ comments, saying that it would be “very difficult” to go off the racing line, before resigning himself to struggling through the track with the hope that there will be changes for next year.

That mostly bore out on Sunday, with little overtaking through the main bulk of the race and, perhaps more importantly, a handful of drivers colliding while trying to overtake off the line. For about 40 laps, the race was more processional than dynamic, with drivers stuck in packs and unwilling to risk passing in the tricky conditions. It wasn’t until lap 41 that the inaugural Miami Grand Prix had some excitement, thanks to a mistake from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly that sent Norris spinning into an early exit and a safety car onto the track.

After the safety car did its laps as marshals cleared the debris from Norris’s car, the pack was bunched up, finally creating a slight window for overtaking and a little drama. The final stretch of the race was fantastic, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc trying to take back first place from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the front, though the Dutchman ended up pulling away and winning the race by almost four seconds. Carlos Sainz and Pérez had a tussle for third that ended with Checo’s car locking up on an overtaking attempt. The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell had a back-and-forth for fifth place that ended with the latter driver pulling it out on fresher tires. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, the two German drivers on the grid, collided on turn one after Schumacher ‘s Haas closed the corner on his compatriot.

There were even more battles down the grid, which speaks less to the quality of the track surface and more to the layout, which combined a couple of tricky corners and an uphill chicane—that Hamilton likened to karting in a parking lot —with the second fastest straight in the F1 season. It was even hard for the TV cameras to keep up with the action on the last eleven laps, thanks to the safety car clumping. That doesn’t wash away how boring the first two-thirds of the race were. A good track should not need a safety car to kick up some action, even if everyone watching or participating in the weekend’s action could have bet on an appearance from the safety car, thanks to the combination of a tight street circuit with that subpar surface.

The good news for Formula 1 here is that the track surface issues should be fixable in time for next year’s Miami Grand Prix. Sometimes innovation fails, and organizers would be wise to roll back the racing surface conditions to something more familiar. What the surface lacked was made up by track elements that could make for a great race in the future. The uphill chicane didn’t cause any crashes on Sunday, but it will remain one of the trickier sections of the season. The long straight should also help drivers overtake by sheer car power, which is always fun.

Whether you hated or loved the newest grand prix, the atmosphere was exactly what Miami wanted to show the world. That’s not likely to change in the coming years; I can imagine a scenario where Miami ratchets up the decadence to even more insane levels. It’s hard to say that the first running at the newest Formula 1 track was a pure success, and to be fair it is a quintessential Miami vibe to pair mess with excess. But that can grow old pretty quick, and F1 is nothing if not fickle, or easily lured elsewhere when it comes to where it races on weekends. Next season Miami will have to compete with Las Vegas for pure American spectacle, and if my hometown doesn’t want to get eclipsed for the title of Most Depraved American circuit they better fix the actual racing pretty soon. If not for me, think of the shame of letting down Bad Bunny.

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The Heat Badly Need Kyle Lowry Back

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

After winning Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the Miami Heat looked to be in good shape moving forward.

They hit the Celtics with a devastating 22-2 run early in the third quarter to turn a 62-54 halftime deficit into a 118-107 victory.

But on Thursday, Boston turned the tables and thoroughly dominated the Heat.

It took apart the Heat’s offense while executing their offense at a very high level, and it hit the Heat with a 127-102 beatdown at FTX Arena in Miami.

The Heat can still win this series, but they will need a helping hand from someone who has missed their last three contests.

They need Kyle Lowry back to seriously challenge the Celtics.

 

Lowry Does A Bit Of Everything

When the Heat traded Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic to the Toronto Raptors for Lowry last summer, it was hailed as the biggest and most important offseason addition in the league.

Lowry’s game may have diminished a bit from where it was three years ago when he helped the Raptors win the NBA championship, and he may be a bit injury-prone, but he became something of a glue guy for Miami.

During the regular season, he averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 assists a game while shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range.

But his impact goes beyond his numbers.

Lowry has missed the last three games with a hamstring ailment, and it is unknown at this time if he will be able to play in Game 3 in Boston.

He is the type of player who could stabilize the Heat when their opponent makes a run while helping their offense run more smoothly and getting the ball to the right spots.

The Celtics used a 17-0 run in the first quarter on Thursday to take control of the contest, and Miami wasn’t able to respond.

It may have been a different story if Lowry were healthy and in the lineup.

 

He Would Also Help On The Other End

Over the years, Lowry has also had the reputation of being a solid defender, and the Heat could’ve used his skill and talent on that end of the floor in Game 2 versus Boston.

Marcus Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year this season, had his way with the Heat, scoring 24 points (on 8-of-22 shooting) while also tallying nine rebounds, 12 assists, and three steals.

Perhaps Lowry could’ve prevented Smart from hitting the open man so easily and from hitting 5-of-12 shots from beyond the arc.

Lowry could’ve also made Smart expend some energy defensively with his ability to attack the basket, hit outside shots and make things happen for his teammates himself.

Without Lowry, Miami doesn’t have a true floor general, and it has had to make do with Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, both of whom have unexpectedly played well this season but are not point guards and lack experience.

Ah yes, experience – something that Lowry has lots of.

That alone makes him worth his weight in gold.

Other than forward Markieff Morris, who has barely played since suffering whiplash at the hands of Nikola Jokic early in the season, and 41-year-old big man Udonis Haslem, who hasn’t literally played at all in the playoffs, Lowry is the only player on the Heat’s roster who has won a world title.

They need that type of guidance to regain control of this series.

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Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick exchanges messages with Erik ten Hag

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Ralf Rangnick has been in contact with incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag ahead of his final game in charge on Sunday against Crystal Palace, which the Dutchman is due to attend.

Rangnick, who will be replaced by Ten Hag at Old Trafford, confirmed dialogue has taken place via WhatsApp but the pair are yet to meet in person.

The former Ajax manager was spotted at the club’s Mayfair offices on Thursday, alongside Steve McClaren and Mitchell van der Gaag, who will jointly be tasked with assisting Ten Hag’s new-look regime in Manchester.

Speaking at his final United press conference, before this Sunday’s trip to Selhurst Park, Rangnick said: “We’ve been in contact, via WhatsApp. We hopefully will have the opportunity to speak and meet in person, either at the weekend or on Monday, at the latest. I’m looking forward to getting to know him in person.”

Ten Hag has reportedly made the appointments of Van der Gaag and McClaren – who served as an assistant under Sir Alex Ferguson at United during 1999-2001 – a priority.

United head to south London on the final day of the Premier League season knowing they have to match West Ham’s result to avoid falling into the Europa Conference League.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Manchester United in the Premier League.

Rangnick’s sixth-placed side are two points better off but have a far worse goal difference, which was further damaged by last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Brighton.

“I’m positive the players want to get something right. I know they would much rather play in the Europa League than in the Conference League next season. This should be an incentive, to make sure we qualify for Europa League on Sunday.”

Rangnick has previously been outspoken on the issues facing United, admitting the club requires major change before they can once again challenge for major honours.

“I still strongly believe that there is a core of players who are top, who are well worth and good enough to play for this club and hopefully most of those players will still be here next season,” he added.

“If the board, Erik, the scouting department – and I will help them with all the issues that I can help them – if we bring in the right mentality players, the right quality players, I’m positive that we will be able to bring this club back not only on track but also back to the top.

“This is what it’s all about in the next couple of weeks. Maybe it will not happen or be possible in one transfer window but I’m very positive that it can happen in the next two or three windows.”

Man United open to offers for Wan-Bissaka

Wan-Bissaka
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Man Utd will listen to offers for Aaron Wan-Bissaka this summer

Manchester United will allow defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka to leave this summer.

United would prefer a permanent deal for the 24-year-old but will not rule out a loan – provided it comes with an obligation to buy.

Wan-Bissaka has enjoyed a mixed time at United since being signed for £50m by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from Crystal Palace in 2019.

He was the first-choice right-back during Solskjaer’s reign but has faced increased competition from Diogo Dalot under interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

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Real Madrid vs Real Betis Prediction and Betting Tips – 22nd May 2022

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Real Madrid and Real Betis will draw the curtain on their 2021-22 La Liga campaign when they square off at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Los Verdiblancos head into the game on a two-match winning streak and will aim to make it three victories on the trot for the first time since February.

Real Madrid had to settle for a share of the spoils last Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Cadiz at the Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla.

The La Liga champions will now return to home turf, where they are currently on a three-game winning streak, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one in that time.

With a highly-anticipated Champions League final against Liverpool on the horizon, victory on Sunday could set the tone for that encounter as they look to claim a record-extending 14th title.

Meanwhile, Real Betis maintained their fine run of results as they claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Granada on home turf.

This followed a 3-0 victory at Valencia on May 10 which saw their four-game winless run in La Liga come to an end.

Real Betis are now eyeing a third consecutive win in a bid to secure a place in next season’s Champions League, as they sit three points off fourth-placed Sevilla in the league standings.


Real Madrid vs Real Betis Head-To-Head and Key Numbers

  • With 24 wins from the last 42 meetings between the sides, Real Madrid boast a superior record in the history of this fixture.
  • Real Betis have picked up seven wins in that time, while the honors have been shared on 11 different occasions.
  • Real Betis are unbeaten in each of their last four visits to the Santiago Bernabeu, picking up two wins and two draws since a 2-1 defeat back in 2017.
  • Real Betis head into the weekend unbeaten in each of their last six games on the road, picking up two wins and four draws in that time.
  • Real Madrid have won each of their last three home games, stretching back to a 3-2 loss against Chelsea in the Champions League quarter-finals back in April

Real Madrid vs Real Betis Prediction

With the league already wrapped up, Carlo Ancelotti could rest a few key players ahead of their Champions League final against Liverpool. While Real Betis have their sights on a top-four finish, we predict the Galacticos will do just enough to force a share of the spoils.

Prediction: Real Madrid 1-1 Real Betis


$1,100 First Bet Insurance at Caesars


Real Madrid vs Real Betis Betting Tips

Tip 1: Result – Draw

Tip 2: Both sides to score – Yes (Real Madrid and Real Betis have been impressive in attack this season, scoring 80 and 62 goals respectively)

Tip 3: Game to have over 4.5 cards – Yes (There have been five or more bookings in six of the last eight meetings between the sides)


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