Are F1 ticket prices really too high?

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:

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104 comments on Are F1 ticket prices really too high?

  1. craig said on 8th February 2010, 19:44

    It is still all relative. I’m not sure how much money per ticket goes to F1 or the track owner. But an empty seat will remain empty if the local and fly in spectators can not afford the seat. Are the prices to high? Well if it is a sell out then absolutey not.

    Makes no difference what a ticket for a football match may or may not be, because the football fan is not buying a Grand Prix seat.

  2. Robert McKay said on 8th February 2010, 20:46

    They are too expensive in my view.

    Maybe the bog standard general admission ones are just about ok, but 400+ to sit in Eau Rouge grandstand for three days is pretty hefty to me.

    Thing is if you look at the Friday and Saturday ticket prices, you really see how much of a premium you pay on race day. And when I went to Silverstone on my sole GP visit so far, I actually much more enjoyed the Friday and Saturday with the freedom to move round and see the cars from different parts of the circuit, with Sunday actually be mildly disappointing in comparison. I actually slightly recommend going to a GP for Friday/Saturday and go back to watch the race on the TV, although of course it’s the race everyones going there for primarily.

    But ultimately the ticket prices are the fault of the commercial rights holder, with the ridiculously high race fees and high annual escalator. These are sucking the life out of races, which after all ought to be commercial enterprises turning profits and not Government funded events.

  3. rampante said on 8th February 2010, 21:48

    @ K I have no longer the reply option after your post.
    My figures do not come from the FIA and never will. I worked alongside Jordan in the very early 90’s and Mclaren after that. The sponsors of these teams based payment and value on the viewing figures that THEY held not the teams. FIFA quote a total of 26 billion total viewers over the 2006 world cup and here in Italy 25 million alone watched the final(Italian numbers not FIFA). Malboro used to pay Ferrari 200 million plus per year do you think they did that for an audience of 50 million? In the words of a very famous song from the 60’s Money makes the world go round and it’s truth is in advertising.

    • Considering Italy were in the Final and they won the figure for Italy looks about right.

      The figures quoted by the Independent investigation come from Initiative Sports Media who are owned by the Interpublic Group of companies who amongst advertising and marketing services provide such information for sponsors. The Interpublic Group is the third largest global advertising holding company in the world.

  4. graigchq said on 8th February 2010, 22:14

    is the instanbul park grand prix really 20?? with a cheap flight.. i might well be up for that.. one of my favourite circuits, even if the grandstands are normally empty.. a good chance to meet some drivers and pit crews with less people around.

    i’m gonna look into this!!!

    • easyJet fly to the airport in Istanbul that happens to be fairly close to the track (on the Asian side of the Bosphorus). If you can find some accommodation nearby it should work out okay, price-wise.

  5. I don’t have enough money for grandstand tickets, however I feel general admission tickets are pretty good value for money, there’s a lot of racing on over the weekend and you can wonder around the track looking for a good view for race day between races and check out a different view for each support race :) GA tickets could stand to be a little cheaper at a few of the dearer tracks though because it can be pretty uncomfortable sitting on the ground for hours or awkward carrying around folding chairs. Still really fun though :)

  6. thestig84 said on 8th February 2010, 22:42

    I have always thought GA is good value if you enjoy 3 full days (maybe 4 if there is a thursday pit walk) I can see how people can enjoy club racing just as much on the racing side but for me it is all about seeing the whole package. My favorite team and driver on the worlds premier racing stage pushing all weekend. The experiences Ive had following the circus around countries have been unforgettable. I dont get that popping down to brands hatch!

    One major thing that I dont think has been mentioned yet is the % that the hotels ramp up their prices. I have camped everywhere so far. I fancy some luxury this year but cant even find the cheapest hotels in a sensible price range!

  7. Good point… I am sure everyone felt like it was a lot, but thats because you pay for all four/five days at one time… If you go early and do the pit lane walk and walk some of the track and then see practice for two days, plus quali’s and the support races plus the actual race itself the price is uber uber cheap. In dollars Spa was around $300US/person and to go see Pearl Jam (even with Eddie Vedder living about 5 minutes from my house) it will cost around $70+ for about 2hrs of performing. Not saying they aren’t a good act, but these bands are the ripoffs! Most shows you will see suck anyway and last only a few hours where an F1 race will always be much more fun for much longer.

  8. Don’t know whether this has been done in another article, but I was keen to see this so I did it quickly over lunch. Below I have related ticket prices to each countries per capita GDP (IMF data), and related it to the UK per capita GDP.

    For example, given the per capita GDP in China is lower then the UK, a ticket price to the Chinese GP is the equivelent of paying 466 in the UK. Hope that makes sense.

    Bahrain GP 82 75
    Australian GP 197 186
    Malaysian GP 91 65
    Chinese GP 87 466
    Spanish GP 149 177
    Monaco GP 454 532
    Turkish GP 63 179
    Canadian GP 133 122
    European GP 170 203
    British GP 230 230
    German GP 174 179
    Hungarian GP 113 214
    Belgian GP 280 275
    Italian GP 96 115

  9. lewis said on 9th February 2010, 1:48

    nah the thing is, u pay to watch cars go past you. it’s wack i would much prefer watching f1 on my tv but i bet it’s a good vibe at the races.

  10. Sorry about the formating above. Also left out Brazil

    Country Current Factoring in GDP per capita
    Bahrain GP 82 75
    Australian GP 197 186
    Malaysian GP 91 65
    Chinese GP 87 466
    Spanish GP 149 177
    Monaco GP 454 532
    Turkish GP 63 179
    Canadian GP 133 122
    European GP 170 203
    British GP 230 230
    German GP 174 179
    Hungarian GP 113 214
    Belgian GP 280 275
    Italian GP 96 115
    Brazilian GP 157 528

  11. MikeinBeijing said on 9th February 2010, 1:53

    Keith, this is amazing work you have done. Cheers!

    Did you do these all alone?

  12. wasiF1 said on 9th February 2010, 1:55

    “Paying 230 for a three-day seat at the British Grand Prix isnt cheap, but youre not just getting a two-hour F1 race: theres 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.”

    Does Gp2,F2 BMW & Porsche get a share of the money we pay to watch F1?

  13. Very, very high!!!

  14. What in Brazil!!! R$300,00. Price is so high!!!

  15. _McPhil_ said on 9th February 2010, 5:07

    Tickets for the World Cup in SA (where I am) are ridiculously expensive. You guys can see how much they are, good ones are upwards of R3000 whereas I just bought a ticket for Silverstone, Copse C (D was sold out) and was about R3500.

  16. Indian gp is due to start from 2011 and if the price for grandstand is kept even near about 100 I’m afraid people will like to watch it on TV because if you convert it into Indian currency it’s Rs 8000/- and this is even more than Per month income of most of the Indian families.One more fact F1 is not so popular in India.

    • wasiF1 said on 9th February 2010, 7:00

      I do agree with you,but I thought after cricket F1 is popular in India,with drivers,teams & many sponsors coming from India.

    • Hey JV,
      Have you been to any international concerts in India? They cost around 3 to 4K INR for a decent seat. If they can sell out, so can a F1 race weekend! Cricket is much cheaper in India and that’s because the authorities know that they can’t afford to price tickets for international cricket matches in India too high (say around 2 to 3 K) as it is a sport watched by almost every Indian and a majority of the Indian public won’t be able to afford a 2K ticket even if it’s a World Cup final! And the amount of cricket viewers/fans in India lets them keep the prices low. But, F1 is not what cricket is in India. It is watched by a different part of the Indian public and there’s just one race to happen in a year. So, a 4 to 5K ticket seems reasonable.
      There’s no point comparing F1 ticket prices in Europe to those in Asia as the household incomes are very different and so is the number of eyes.
      I live in London and have been to various sporting and music events. Generally, entertainment is expensive in the UK but I don’t think the ticket prices are too high. I’d been to the Silverstone race last year and the weekend cost me around 300.00.
      Considering it’s just once a year, I think it’s worth it. Can’t really compare it to an EPL match, there are multiple matches for every team and they’re not as exclusive as an F1 race weekend unless it’s the semi final or the final, for which the ticket prices are way higher than an F1 race.
      So, overall, I think F1 tickets are ok, but I would say that GA tickets should be cheaper than they are. The grandstand tickets are fine.

      • P.S.
        I’m an Indian and lived in India for 20 years before moving to London 5 years ago… just in case you wondered how do I know about India and it’s cricket. :)

  17. steve said on 9th February 2010, 8:31

    The British GP costs something like 1000 for a family of four and that is without the extras, like the overpriced poor quality food, camping etc. You can’t even buy day tickets now can you?

    Given that 1200 bought our family 3 weeks of holiday in Provence last year its the Grand Prix on TV for us….well me anyway….my kids long since lost interest.

    • Chalky said on 9th February 2010, 12:55

      I got Sunday only this year to go with the wife. Kids are with the grandparents.
      This is the 3rd time for me to go to a GP and it’s getting more expensive.

      I still think F1 tickets are too expensive, but then I guess each circuit has to work out how many grandstand seats it can hold and work out a pricing structure from there.
      If Silverstone could build 50,000 extra seats would it help drop the price of them?
      Can Silverstone manage another 50,000 spectators?
      If they could, would building larger grandstands be worth it for one race per year?
      Overall GA should be a lot cheaper and have better access for fans. We don’t want to make this sport too exclusive.

      • Robert McKay said on 9th February 2010, 14:34

        I can’t remember where and when I read it but I’m fairly sure I saw something that said Silverstone could increase capacity if they wanted but they currently thought the additional logistical challenges from it outweighed the benefits.

        I wonder if that won’t change in the near future as they need to get more folk in to match the FOM escalator fees.

        • Chalky said on 9th February 2010, 14:52

          “the additional logistical challenges from it outweighed the benefits.”

          Well given what I’ve seen in the past at Silverstone; 50,000 more fans would mean 1 more portable toilet required. What else do you need?

          • I doubt one toilet would cover it; there seemed to be enough toilets in 2009, but they definitely wouldn’t have sufficed for an extra 50,000. As for the roads in Silverstone’s immediate environs…

  18. YES. Way too high. I have NEVER been to a Formula 1 race before, never ever have I seen a Formula 1 car in the flesh.

    I am the biggest fan you can imagine, it is all i talk about & think about. I just cant afford the ticket prices.. Too expensive!

    It sucks. =[ One day.. maybe one day.. not in the near future mind

    • I’m not trying to come down on you, but huge F1 fans sell their kids to go! I used to date this woman who’s family had season Seattle Seahawks tickets (NFL) and they were very expensive and amazing seats and yet there were a few random guys that looked aweful that wore headsets tuned in to some station while watching the game with all sorts of old team wear and gear… my point is that this guy was a HUGE fan and he must have spent every dime he has to get this one seat. We see the same thing at F1 events as well. As I’ve said before, the British are truly fanatical about cars and soccer (I mean football)!
      I wish the tickets were less, but I have to imagine that if they would be able to lower them enough to encourage more people to show then they would do it. There is one thing we know about business and that is that regardless of the welfare of the sport, people or the planet, they will sell something in a manner that brings in the most money possible. I think we are all just wishing we could pay less for tickets!

      For those of you who have kids I hear your pain and do feel that kids under 15 should be half price (provided the tickets are purchased with at least 1 adult ticket) because this would probably bring in a few more families and would also keep the interest of the sport in the upcoming generations as well. Its kind of a no-brainer.

      Finally, Cube, if you are the biggest F1 fan, go see a race from Thursday morning pit walk to the after race campground- one last barbeque and drink with the new mates- and then tell me the tickets are too expensive for the biggest fan of Formula 1. Sell a kidney, donate eggs/sperm/blood, get a third job whatever, but see one before you judge. While opinions are all equal, some are more qualified than others. If you had gone we could say your opinion is subjective or biased, but as it is now we can only say they are theoretical or speculative at best.

  19. Robert McKay said on 9th February 2010, 14:38

    I meant to add that its difficult to compare with the World Cup Final ticket prices. The tournament is only once every 4 years, football is fundamentally more popular globally, and even with a 60-70 thousand seater stadium a ridiculous number of tickets go to the sponsors, “affiliates”, delegates, FIFA honchos etc. etc., so there’s actually only about 30-40 thousand for Joe Public (I think).

    Hence demand is immensely high compared to the average GP.

    As others have said, if even the most popular races are struggling to sell out, then someone’s getting the pricing wrong.

  20. The article says: “Paying 230 for a three-day seat at the British Grand Prix isnt cheap.”

    Yes, it isn’t. That’s nearly half of my monthly pay. But if you add the traveling costs for us that aren’t lucky enough to have our country host a grand prix, then going to a grand prix is pretty much impossible.

    • We call them piggy-banks. Put 10 pounds in a month for 2 years and borrow some money from your mom for the flight, then make friends with the nearest person who supports your team and then your food is covered as well.

      Next.

      • This assumes you:

        a) have 10 a month spare after necessary expenses are paid for

        b) can get your mum to lend you money for the flight (remember, among other things that the money must be paid back)

        c) you can find someone nearby who supports your team (which can be difficult if your team isn’t one of the more popular ones)

        d) 240 is enough to get you your primary expenses paid – which it isn’t in most cases. Try double or treble that, depending on where exactly your nearest race is

        In practice, even that strategy gets you to one race every six years. Is F1 venue attendance really sustainable with people only being able to get there once in an average circuit’s contract (note that for the average track, this necessitates 600,000 spectators in the catchement area who are interested enough in F1 venue attendence to not spend on other F1-related things, let alone other hobbies)? Tickets may be too expensive for us spectators, but they’re also proving too expensive for most of the venues. The only people who actually gains from this situation are the employees of CVC and whoever they trade F1’s future with.

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