Ten ways to pick an F1 race to visit

Which F1 race do you most want to see?

Which F1 race do you most want to see?

With the 2009 F1 season almost upon us fans will be sorting out their plans to go to a Grand Prix.

So how do you go about picking which race to go to? Here are ten ways to help make up your mind.


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Where you live can seriously restrict your choice of races. Europeans are spoiled for choice, but North American fans face a major expedition if they want to see live F1 action.

Also remember that some tracks are easier to get to than others. Valencia, Monte-Carlo and Singapore are all in urban areas. But Istanbul Park is two hours? drive outside of the city it?s named after.


Some F1 races are more about the spectacle of the event than the quality of the racing.

If glitz and glamour is your thing, then Monte-Carlo should be your destination. For the unique thrill of night racing, head for Singapore.

Or if you want to soak up the atmosphere of a classic F1 race at a venue steeped in history, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps are the best places to head for. I?ve been to both, and wouldn?t hesitate to recommend them.


If what draws you to F1 is the prospect of seeing wheel-to-wheel racing, some tracks are more likely to offer that than others.

Bahrain, for example, may not be the most inspiring venue, but you can usually expect a good race.


Hard to believe, but Silverstone in the wet isn't everyone's cup of tea

Hard to believe, but Silverstone in the wet isn't everyone's cup of tea

If you?ve got kids in tow, or you?ve cajoled a non-fan in coming along with you, they might not appreciate standing on the outside of Eau Rouge while their shoes fill up with water.

Statistically, your best bets if you?re looking for a dry race are Monza (last year was its only significantly wet race in 58 Grands Prix), the Hungaroring (one wet race out of 23) and Bahrain (erm, it?s in a desert).

On the other hand, hard-bitten F1 Fanatics know wet races equal maximum excitement. So pack your anorak and head for Spa-Francorchamps or Shanghai to increase your chance of seeing wet weather action.


If money?s a concern it?s worth knowing which races cost more to attend than others ?ǣ and what can push prices up the most.

Some races are dearer to start with: Monaco for example. Travel distance is a big consideration when it comes to budgets, and if you?re heading abroad for a Grand Prix keep an eye on the exchange rates,

Once you?ve done your sums you may find it works out cheaper to head abroad to watch a race than stay at home. Historically Spa has been a good alternative to Silverstone for British fans, particularly those in the south, though the weakening pound may have changed that.

Another cost factor is whether you plan to watch all three days? action or not. With this year?s engine rules there might not be much F1 running on Fridays, particularly at the races early on in the season. The good thing about Fridays is that, as they tend to be quieter, you have more time and space to have a walk around the track and see the action from all angles.

If you are thinking of doing all three days it?s also worth checking what other races are on during the weekend.

Support races

GP2 provides the wheel-to-wheel action F1 often lacks

GP2 provides the wheel-to-wheel action F1 often lacks

One of the curses of modern F1 for the track side spectator is the large amount of unused track time built into the race weekend?s schedule. This is to prevent F1?s precious television broadcasts being delayed because of a pile-up in a support race.

Support races at Grands Prix are a bit of a mixed bag. GP2 offers fabulous entertainment, often providing the best of the weekend?s action, and most Grands Prix include two GP2 races. On the other hand, I usually go for a walk when the Porsche Supercup is on.

Formula BMW Europe joined the schedule at some F1 races last year, offering a chance to see the stars of tomorrow crashing into each other. This year Formula Masters and the new Formula Two championship will appear at some races.

For details of support races at each of this year?s Grands Prix, check the race information links at the bottom of the page.

Crowd size

A packed crowd means a good atmosphere, and you?re guaranteed one if you head to the likes of Monza, Interlagos or Silverstone. Both Spanish races these days get huge audiences too. But that also means you?ve got to act fast to get your tickets booked.

How much can you see?

There are two sides to this. First, how much of the track is visible from the grandstands? At Fuji you can see much of the circuit from the spectators? stands along the main straight. But at Monaco you?ll probably only be able to see the corner in front of you ?ǣ unless you know someone with a penthouse…

Then there?s the question of how many times the cars are going to come past. Spa?s 7km long lap means you?ll only see them 44 times in a race, but at Interlagos they?ll come by 70 times.


Wherever you end up sitting at a Grand Prix it?s hard to avoid the risk of missing some crucial action. And if you?re not within sight of the pit lane, keeping track of who?s pitted can be difficult.

There are two solutions: either find a grandstand near to a video wall, or hire a Kangaroo TV screen for the weekend which shows the same pictures. You can pre-book Kangaroos before the race on their website.

Transport and accommodation

Finally, a word of caution. Tedious though it might be, if you don?t figure out the logistics of your Grand Prix expedition you could give yourself a real headache. The last thing you want is to be running towards the circuit gates while the cars are on their formation lap.

Figure out where you?re staying, how you?re getting there, and how you?re going to commute to the track. I can tell you from experience that staying at Thessaloniki in Greece is not the best way to take in the Turkish Grand Prix??

If you?re going for all three days of the weekend (remember Monaco is Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), striking a balance between finding somewhere near to the track and not getting ripped off can be tricky. Have a look at the information posted by F1 fans on the different circuits, and post questions if you?re looking for specific information:

Albert Park, Mebourne – spectators? experiences
Sepang International Circuit – spectators? experiences
Shanghai International Circuit – spectators? experiences
Bahrain International Circuit – spectators? experiences
Circuit de Catalunya – spectators? experiences
Monte-Carlo – spectators? experiences
Istanbul Park – spectators? experiences
Silverstone – spectators? experiences
Nurburgring (new, 1984-present)
Hungaroring – spectators? experiences
Circuito Urbano Valencia – spectators? experiences
Spa-Francorchamps – spectators? experiences
Autodromo Nazionale Monza – spectators? experiences
Singapore street track – spectators? experiences
Fuji Speedway – spectators? experiences
Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo – spectators? experiences

How do you pick which F1 race to go to? Are you going to a Grand Prix for the first time this year? Have your say in the comments.

Silverstone 2009 Meet & Greet

Heading to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix this year? Head over to the forum for details of the 2009 British Grand Prix F1 Fanatic Meet & Greet.

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Images (C) Red Bull / GEPA, Ferrari spa, GP2 Media Service / Alastair Staley

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38 comments on Ten ways to pick an F1 race to visit

  1. F1Yankee said on 21st February 2009, 3:41

    enjoyable article, thank you! unfortunately for me, i find myself on the wrong side of every ocean. hopefully, the canadian and us gp’s will come back soon, to match our shiny new usf1 team.

    “I can tell you from experience that staying at Thessaloniki in Greece…”

    lol bravosou!

  2. Only Melbourne for me this year. For those who wanted to know which venues let you on the track after the race, Melbourne does. I don’t think the organisers have a choice, really !

    And Melbourne is SO easy to get to its not funny. Trams cover all gates and are free for grandstand ticket holders. The support categories are excellent, plus there are a lot of other things going on around the track – expo’s, autograph sessions, rides etc. Not to mention that Melbourne is the only race that goes for 4 days, so the value for money is excellent.

    The atmosphere is great, and you have the added bonus of it being the first race of the season, which is always a bit special.

    For those of you who can afford the airfare, get over here !

    I’m hoping that by 2012 there will be a Canadian or US GP back on the calendar, cos if there is that will be the next one I go to. *fingers crossed*

    • Clare msj said on 21st February 2009, 12:17

      I completely agree about Melbourne being easy to get to, I walked from my hostel in St Kilda, and about the support categories too – because the V8s are so popular, the stands are as full if not fuller than for the F1 when those were on, so it made quite an atmosphere all the time, not just for the F1

      I went on the track at Melbourne too the other year, wasnt quite close enough to get down to the podium though. I did in Hungary, that was brilliant, the cars had barely passed before everyone was on track and I dont think i have ever run so fast in my life to get down to the podium – you could smell the champagne and everything, it was amazing! Yet another plus point for the Hungarian race! Canada was the same, quite literally as soon as the last car had passed where you were you found yourself on the track! I have been on at Silverstone too, although thats quite a while after the race (and extra support race) has finished and I have yet to complete a whole lap post race like I did at Canada and Australia. Needless to say we werent allowed on the track after Indy 2005…

  3. The only Grand Prix I’ve been to is Silverstone, 2007. I was only able to make it to the track on Saturday and Sunday. I sat in Becketts, which is in a tremendous complex. It was a terrific experience. The atmosphere was great (especially when Hamilton took pole on Saturday, and when he charged into Becketts on the first lap as the leader). Getting to the seats from the middle of Silverstone, where the buses stop, is quite a walk, and it was pretty hot that day, but that wasn’t much of an inconvenience. I was staying in London at the time studying abroad at LSE, so we took the rail to Northampton (about an hour-long trip), and then took a taxi to the circuit from there. That was a pleasurable experience to see the English countryside in a pretty comfortable ride. I’d certainly recommend to any international travelers to stay in London and take the train, as the nightlife and other amenities in London are top notch and are far beyond what you could get staying closer to the circuit.

    This is my final semester of University, and to celebrate my friend and I decided to go on a vacation based on a GP, since we are both big gear heads. We wanted to go to a GP that was either in May or early June, as each of us will have jobs to attend to throughout most of the summer. Graduation is on May 10, the same day as the Spanish Grand Prix, so that was ruled out. So our options have come down to Monaco or Turkey.

    We’ve wanted to take an extended vacation (three weeks) and go to a couple more places besides the Grand Prix host, so that effectively ruled out Monaco for us since everything (GP tickets, lodging, etc.) was simply too expensive. So we’ve decided to go to Turkey (which is a GP each of us have really wanted to visit). We’re starting the trip with a couple of days in London, as we each have friends there we want to visit (and it’s actually a lot cheaper to fly to London from Raleigh, NC and then take an Easy Jet flight to Istanbul). We’ll then fly into Istanbul for GP weekend and take two more weeks in which we’ll vist Sofia, Bulgaria and Santorini in Greece. We’re both tremendously excited about this trip. We’re going to be sitting in Silver 1, which is in turn 1. Hopefully, we’ll get to see an overtake like Hamilton’s on Massa this past year.

    Kevin, what do you recommend doing in Istanbul during the F1 weekend? (Eating, bars and clubs, history, etc.) We’ll be staying there 4 nights (flying in Thurs, leaving Monday morning). Oh, and where does Kimi party when he goes to Istanbul? ;)

  4. LadySnowcat said on 22nd February 2009, 16:46

    I recommend the main grandstand at Istanbul, it’s cool and you can wander up and down the back of the stand to get different views…

    But take care with the catering, unless you have a cast iron stomach or a large supply of Imodium, stick to Coke and Ice cream when you are at the track….

    Or splash out on Paddock Club…

    • Thanks for the tip on the food. ;) I’m very careful about my fitness, so I typically work my eating schedule to avoid food that’s available at sporting events.

      I’d love to try the main grandstand, but it’s too expensive at this point.

      We haven’t actually gotten our tickets yet. Kevin, what do you know of Silver 8? It’s the grandstand in Turn 14. How good of a view of Turn 12 (the overtaking spot) can you get from there?

  5. interlagos is near of the center sao paulo

  6. Snoopy said on 22nd February 2009, 22:44

    Iceman you can not buy those paddock pass lol. I got them because i had long history in motorsport :)

  7. macca said on 7th May 2009, 12:18

    camping in francorchamps village = awesome. i was stood in the rain at les combes for many hours but hakkinen made it all worth it. amazing.

  8. Really cool blog. I found it on yahoo. I am looking forward to read more posts.

    Can anybody tell me whats the best hotel in Paris for my honey moon? I going to married next month..

    Thank you

  9. Suzuka or bust said on 9th July 2009, 6:34

    Interesting article. Great comments. I am attending my first F1 race (I know, I know..) and heading to Japan. I figure, why not one of the best!! Do you have recommendations on where I should sit, trying to figure out which pass to buy.

    • I am going to Suzuka as well… first time for me. Would appreciate it if you could post here again if you get any of your questions answered. Thanks!!

  10. I guess there really is no free lunches and I will have to pay for recovery.

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