Are F1 ticket prices really too high?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Three days of F1 or 90 minutes of football - what's better value?
Three days of F1 or 90 minutes of football - what's better value?

The impressive turnout of fans at the Valencia test last week led many to conclude that F1 races would draw larger audiences if ticket prices weren’t so high.

But F1 tickets aren’t that much more expensive than those for other major sporting events – especially when you consider a Grand Prix runs over three days. Are they really too expensive?

Last month we took a detailed look at the prices of F1 tickets for different races in 2010 and found massive variations in price.

A three-day ticket to the Turkish Grand Prix will let you back less than twenty pounds, while the same ticket for Silverstone costs over ??130 – and that, remember, is the ‘seat not included’ price.

But other major sporting events aren’t that much cheaper to attend.

Football

Tickets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa this year peak at ??576 ($900) for the final. Assuming the match finishes without extra time, that’s ??6.40 per minute. Tickets may change hands for far more than that, though the football authorities go to considerable lengths to stop it from happening.

The cheapest tickets for the earlier matches start at around ??51 which is about as much as you’d pay to go to a Premier League match here in England.

Once the tournament reaches the quarter final stages most tickets are over the ??100 mark and you won’t get into the final for less than ??250.

FIFA World Cup 2010 ticket prices

Tennis

Tickets for the Wimbledon tennis tournament are sold per day rather than per match, with later days costing more because that’s when the most important matches take place.

Prices for the final five days of play are ??85 or more, reaching a high of ??104 for the final day.

Wimbledon 2010 ticket prices

Golf

The format of The Open golf tournament is a little like F1 in that spectators have a choice between standing and seating. However grandstands are few and far between whereas in F1 the majority of spectators sit in grandstands.

Tickets to the event on championship days cost ??60. But access to one of the grandstands is a hefty ??240.

The Open 2010 ticket prices

Too dear?

I haven’t written this to say “other sports are rubbish, F1 is better value”. My point is that when we compare ticket prices for different sports we need to remember we aren’t comparing apples with apples.

Paying ??230 for a three-day seat at the British Grand Prix isn’t cheap, but you’re not just getting a two-hour F1 race: there’s five hours of practice and qualifying, plus two GP2 races, two Formula BMW races, GP3 and Porsche races, and all their practice and qualifying sessions too. (See the ‘2010 F1 races’ links at the foot of the page for details of the support races at each round).

It’s tempting to argue that circuit organisers should cut ticket prices and let more people, but they don’t always have that choice. Silverstone is not increasing its race-day attendance of 120,000 despite building its new ‘Arena’ circuit this year because of the additional problems it would cause for people getting into and out of the track, as well as providing sufficient food, drink, toilet and other facilities.

Ultimately, ticket prices are what they are because of the prices circuits are charged to hold races – and we all know who sets those rates.

Do you think F1 fans are paying too much for tickets? What’s the most you’ve paid to go to an F1 race? Have your say below.

Compare prices for F1 tickets: 2010 F1 ticket prices

Going to a Grand Prix in 2010? Swap notes with other fans who are going to these races: