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. Damon said on 8th February 2010, 19:16

    Keith, either you really like the word ‘dear’, or it is in fact more popular than ‘expensive’ where you live.
    How is it?

  2. It is a question of supply and demand. There is a great demand for Formula 1 and people are willing to pay more to attend a Formula 1 race than a Moto GP race. People are also willing to pay more to attend a race at Silverstone than one at Istanbul park because F1 has much more fans in Britain.

    If prices were reduced, we would face a black market with extremely high prices. I believe ticket prices shall remain at current level in order to prevent that and to maintain the exclusive feeling in attending a Formula 1 race.

    • Quite honestly, I don’t care about an exclusive feeling. MotoGP is just as good as F1 in my book, and Dorna charges a fraction of the hosting/sanctioning fee that FOM dose. They also do a good job of getting races in new/emerging markets while keeping a very strong presence in Europe and America.

      I once did a forum thread on the F1 calendar vs. the MotoGP calendar, but in short I think MotoGP has it all over F1 when it comes to treating the fans well.

      • People are willing to pay these prices to attend the races so why should they charge less? Do you believe that the hosts of Moto GP races would have the same ticket prices if they faced the same demand as a Formula 1 race does?

        Your argument that Moto GP hosts treats the fans better would only imply a even greater difference in ticket prices if Formula 1 hosts would offer the same services.(People would be willing to pay even more for an F1 ticket)

      • yes, as a motogp fan i remember your post, and i agree with you strongly. F1 could learn very much indeed from motogp, from how rule changes are done, testing, ticket pricing, post race celebrations, track selection, growing emerging markets whilst still looking after it’s traditional base……

  3. sato113 said on 8th February 2010, 19:23

    are the prices high? yes, because the popular races haven’t sold out yet.

  4. mild7nick said on 8th February 2010, 19:26

    silverstone has ok general admission but gets very crowded i think and its very flat too, spa can be excellent for general admission but how many tracks are hilly these days hey!

  5. Marc Connell said on 8th February 2010, 19:33

    I disagree with tickets being high. You get alot for your money.

    Me, i simply cant afford them even tho i have 2 jobs and 153098133 hobbys.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 :)

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

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