Miami Grand Prix Driver Intros As Narrated By LL Cool J, Ranked
10:59 AM EDT on May 8, 2023
For the second year in a row, the Miami Grand Prix was a weekend showcase of America's most maximalist tendencies. This is what Formula One wants out of it, of course; why put a race in Miami if not for the spectacle? And while the actual race was, also for the second year in a row, a mostly boring affair—though the midfield had some movement, and Lewis Hamilton overcame a 13th-place start to finish a very tidy sixth—everything surrounding the 57 laps was turned up an extra notch from last year's inaugural race. Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
There were celebrities abound throughout the grid before the race, as Sky Sports' Martin Brundle manically rushed through to say hi to Roger Federer, rapper IDK, and in a callback, the Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, whom Brundle confused for Patrick Mahomes at last year's race. There were, apparently, $42 "wagyu steak sandwiches" at the track. And, most importantly, the fake marina from 2022 was replaced with real water!
All of these shenanigans, however, paled in comparison to what LL Cool J accomplished in the pre-race ceremony. For seven minutes, the rapper-actor introduced each driver on the grid for Sunday's race, one by one. He attempted to hype the crowd up with one or two lines about each driver, and the result was a seasoned performer desperately trying to squeeze some juice out of totally boring biographical details.
While will.i.am "conducted" an "orchestra" for the entire duration, LL Cool J worked his way up the grid in no discernible order, starting with Fort Lauderdale's own (not Miami's!) Logan Sargeant and ending up, eventually, with Max Verstappen, who to his credit did not embarrass himself as the MC of this cringe-fest asked him a simple question. In between, LL praised two different drivers for either "coming good" or "doing good," hugged Lewis Hamilton, and did a great job of pronouncing everyone's names, except Pierre Gasly, who got a cartoonish "Gas-LEEEEE" for his troubles.
The drivers all walked through smoke machines blasting in their faces, with most of them just ignoring LL en route to their designated waiting spot. All of the charm that this group has exhibited over the years on Netflix's Drive to Survive was vacuum-sealed away, leaving in its place a soulless, dead-in-the-eyes procession that lagged miles—or kilometers, as it were—behind having Michael Buffer introduce everyone at the 2017 Austin Grand Prix. It didn't help that the crowd in Miami was not properly mic'd up, either, making it seem like these intros were happening at an empty parking lot.
With all that in mind, I went through and watched the Miami driver introductions one more time in order to rank them from "best"—and No. 1 really is good, though the rest are probably starting at a "least bad" baseline—to "most awkward."
- "He's the most successful driver in the history of the sport. He's a seven-time world champion. He's a game changer and a change maker. He's royalty. Sir Lewis Hamilton!"
- "This Spanish superstar had his first win in 2022, driving for Ferrari, and he's famous as a Smooth Operator on the track … it's Carlos Sainz!"
- "OK, now this guy came back from two broken wrists at the start of the season, and drove through the pain to score points. He's a Canadian carrying the hopes of his nation. It's Lance Stroll!"
- "Next up, a young British talent at McLaren, and one of the most exciting drivers to break into F1 … it's Lando Norris!" [Note: this one is mostly this high because of Norris getting blasted in the face with the smoke machines as he walked out.]
- "He's a fun-loving driver, with multiple Grand Prix wins and incredible one-lap pace … it's Valtteri Bottas!"
- "And finally. The two-time world champion and the current championship leader. He's the man everyone has to beat and the man who looks unstoppable. Turn it up for Max Verstappen!"
- "This two-time world champion is in the form of his life, on the front row of the grid with his new team Aston Martin … it's Fernando Alonso!"
- "Another British hotshot, he's racing for Mercedes and is already highly regarded as a future F1 champion in the making ... it's George Russell!"
- "He might be small in stature, but he's a mighty racer. It's the fearless Japanese F1 superstar Yuki Tsunoda!"
- LL Cool J: "Our first driver grew up right here in Miami. It's a homecoming for the local boy done good. Let's give it up for Logan Sargeant!" Logan Sargeant: "What's up America? Let's bring that energy!"
- "From the home of the grandest Grand Prix of them all, Monaco, this driver fought for the championship in 2022 … it's Charles Leclerc!"
- "A French racer with a French team who's a fan favorite and a race winner, let's hear it for Pierre Gasly!"
- "Thailand's own … carries the historic Williams team name forward with an impressive start to Formula One's season…it's Alex Albon!"
- "He's the only Chinese racer in F1 history, and now he's one of the most exciting drivers on the grid. It's Zhou Guanyu!"
- "Next up: A multiple champion before arriving in Formula One, he's a new sensation … Nyck de Vries!"
- "Australia's rookie boy wonder, racing for McLaren, he's young and hungry to be a champion … it's Oscar Piastri!"
- "This fan-favorite is known as The Hulk, for his speed and aggressive driving style … it's Nico Hulkenberg!"
- "It's the bad boy turned good. The Viking racing from Denmark … Kevin Magnussen!"
- "Ahh. The man in pole position. He's a Mexican multiple race winner. He's gunning for the title! Viva la Mexico! Sergio Perez!"
- Dying of embarrassment because you made the Williams sisters, Michelle Rodriguez, and Ludacris stand through this mess for seven minutes
- "Childhood friends with Pierre Gasly turned rivals turned teammates … Esteban Ocon!"