The 2017 F1 season is edging ever closer: we’re less than a week away from getting our first look at all the new cars.
So if you haven’t started making your plans to get to a race on the 2017 F1 calendar, now’s the time to get cracking. And F1 Fanatic readers have plenty of advice to share from races they went to last year.
Where can you find good value accommodation? Can you get a decent drink and a bite to eat at the circuit? Are there any good general admission viewing spots? Here’s are your tips on a selection of this year’s races.
Australian Grand Prix
Melbourne offers great opportunities for fans to meet the drivers, according to @evilhomer:
There is the ’Melbourne Walk’ where the drivers and teams will walk down, do a television interview, sign autographs and take a photograph. It’s pretty cool and the only concept like that I have seen, but I haven’t been to all the races.
The drivers get a time limit and it’s more than you would expect. Lewis Hamilton may have ten minutes, Sebastian Vettel the same but he is very generous with his time and gets the hurry-along, Daniel Ricciardo being the local star has, say, 15 minutes but when his assistant, usually Barney, says time to go then that’s it. Kimi Raikkonen’s time limit seems to be 20 seconds, gets out of the car, give a wave and gone.
On Thursday there is a driver autograph session, but the lines are huge so you have a better chance at the Melbourne Walk. For both of these options you need a top grandstand pass (used to be a gold ticket) or be a GP Advantage member, where you need to purchase your ticket by a certain date. This also gives you a Pit Lane Walk that usually is not part of a grandstand ticket.
The look on my son’s face when he first met Ricciardo reminded me of when I first met Ayrton Senna in 1988. All the drivers (well, the vast majority) are happy to talk and have a photo with fans and kids. By the end of Thursday my son had met and had a photo with three-quarters of the drivers and I have never seen him happier. I should have taken him home then and saved some money!
And don’t rush off once the chequered flag falls:
Don’t fly out the evening after the race, unless its international and you are leaving late, like midnight. We have left right after the race before and it crowded, too busy and simply horrible, stay the night, go out for dinner and discuss the race instead.
Chinese Grand Prix
Dan from Belgium chose Shanghai over Spa for his maiden F1 trip:
It was the first Grand Prix that I attended, so everything was a bit special for me.
If I had to remember one thing, it would be the (quick) pit lane walk that I did Friday evening. Also, one of the best things is the ticket price (I paid a bit more than 100€ for a silver ticket), and the value you get from it: good seat, good view, and a giant TV in front of me.
The worst thing would probably be the lack of support races, or even the lack of anything else apart from the Formula 1 cars on track: there wasn’t much to do between sessions, except walk around the track, go to the sponsors stands, or getting expensive food.
Bring food with you or go to the food court just outside the entrance next to the subway station (they were making terrific Mongolian barbecue there). If you are going on the Friday, prepare for something to do between practice sessions (a book, a deck of cards or anything to pass the time).
And if it gets cloudy, definitely bring an umbrella, the rain may fall quite hard. Also, the circuit is now well connected to the city centre with the subway, so it has become quite easy to get there from anywhere in the city.
Also in the crowd last year was Adrian, on his first trip to a race outside Australia:
If I had to pinpoint one thing, it would have been the excellent view from the main grandstand of a number of parts of the track. I’ve previously attended the Australian Grand Prix and sat in the main straight and all you see is pit action and cars flying by, but with the elevation the Shanghai track affords and the size of the main grandstand you feel engaged through quite a bit of the lap.
For Adrian too the shortage of non-F1 action was a disappointment:
Australia has a real carnival atmosphere, but with the only other racing being Porsche Carrera Cup, you aren’t really drawn to spend a whole day at the track in China.
And don’t be daunted by the prospect of using public transport:
Catch the train to get to the track. Despite their being little information online about the train it is super-easy, cheap and very close to the main entry.
Bahrain Grand Prix
Bahrain is one of the less well-attended rounds and few F1 Fanatic readers have made the trip. Alex offers this advice:
There’s free minibus transport to the track, just ask at your hotel.
Always ask the taxi driver to switch on the meter or they will try and rip you off.
The crowds are sparse so the driver autographs are probably the ‘easiest’ to get access to all season.
Spanish Grand Prix
A lively crowd and great viewing opportunities is part of the appeal according to @EvilHomer:
There is a difference when you arrive to an Formula One circuit that is a proper track compared to a street circuit. Barcelona will give you the heart rate rise like when you get to a proper F1 circuit.
The crowd is immense and very passionate – not far off Suzuka, really. If you sit in the complex in the last third of the circuit that complex of corners is simply awesome, I don’t think I have ever seen a better view of an F1 car for 30 seconds or so but at this place. Heavy brake, accelerate, brake again – we saw testing last year and this spot was incredible.
However you may need to take a good circuit diagram with you and be prepared for some frustration:
Track access and direction is appalling. I asked directions to our spot and was told “not this stand, I don’t know…” When you are searching for a stand in Melbourne staff tell you right away. In Barcelona, “I don’t know” seems adequate customer service. Know where you are going before race day – there is no signage.
There are also very few taxis out after race day. We waited an hour and a half, and the ‘every man for himself’ organisation meant it got a bit ugly to be honest.
However there is the benefit of a lively city nearby:
There are not too many hotels or things to do around the circuit so stay in town and enjoy Barcelona – it’s a great city. This will mean more daily travel to the circuit.
There was no alcohol in the stands the past few years so if you want to have a cold one you may need some kind of hospitality ticket.
A tour or minibus here is a good bet as it’s a good 35 to 40 minutes from town centre and not the most accessible circuit I have been to.
Monaco Grand Prix
You’ve been told enough times it’s the most glamorous F1 destination, but is it really worth the price? Neil Craig travelled from Edinburgh to Monaco to find out:
The best thing about the race was the amount of access you get to all the action compared to other tracks.
The paddock is fairly open (but still fenced off) making it really easy to spot drivers and get some autographs. On the Friday don’t miss out on the pit walk in the afternoon, again some of the drivers will be out signing autographs.
The worst thing about the weekend was getting rained on during the race as none of the grandstands are covered but that made for an interesting race.
Neil’s verdict? It’s worth the effort:
Go for it. It might be a little bit more expensive than Silverstone of Spa but you won’t regret it.
This was another destination for @EvilHomer last year – and a long-awaited one:
I fulfilled a lifelong dream to attend Monaco this year. It exceeded what I would have thought.
Unless you have been you won’t see anything like it. Yes there is plenty of money but most of ’the money’ either want to show it off or leave town during the weekend.
To see the giant mountain not far from the city is so much better that on television. And when you see the track its something you cant describe – we have all seen it but when you walk through the circuit or tunnel it’s something else. I can’t wait to go back!
But how best to cope with those Monaco prices?
Stay in Monaco instead of Nice, but do an Air BNB or HomeAway rather than a hotel. We had three nights at the Columbas for $400 per night (and it was great) but at F1 time it’s $1,300 per night. Our Home Away cost us $3900 for 11 nights with four people – not bad.
Monaco is known for little or no crime but that doesn’t mean the F1 weekend as at the train station there are many reports of pickpockets. Keep your wits about as it does happen – even in Monaco.
Canadian Grand Prix
Abby went to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from the UK and had a great time:
The atmosphere, from being on the metro, to the walk to the circuit, to being in the stand, it was just so much fun!
Sitting in stand 11 at the Senna corner meant that I got to see quite a bit of action: Felipe Massa crashing there in first practice on Friday and then Nico Rosberg spinning out but recovering during the race stand out.
However Montreal’s weather ran true to form: Abby reported “sun burn on Friday and rain on Sunday”.
Take layers of clothing, as it can get quite chilly in the stands, including a vest top and a rain mac for those sudden weather changes.
@Sward28 has been to a few races at the track and was particularly impressed with the 2016 editionL
The best thing about any grand prix weekend for me is seeing the cars on track. However, I’ve been to five Canadian Grand Prix now and the best thing about this year’s race for me was the festival that the city of Montreal put on during the race weekend. Every night Crescent Street was shut down to allow people to walk along it. Music, kiosks with cars, bars, great food, anything you needed was there.
Formula One Management keep non-F1 track time to a bare minimum and here too the lack of support race action has been a concern:
The worst thing about the Canadian Grand Prix weekend is that the support races are not very interesting. Two Ferrari Challenge and Formula 1600 races. With so few support races, the wait between the last Ferrari Challenge race and the Drivers Parade feels like forever.
And according to @Sward28 this is a track where you definitely want a seat:
After attending the race five times now, I have sat in multitude of places. The hairpin, the front straight, turn one and two and now this past year General Admission. I went with a group this year, some who have never been to a race, so I decided to go the cheap route and get general admission. I would not do this again.
In my opinion, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve does not offer general admission ticket goers great spots to watch the cars from. The only spot that is decent (above the track, looking down at it) is coming out of the hairpin. However, you need to get there as the track opens and fight for a spot.
Azerbaijan Grand Prix
F1 will head back to Baku for the second time this season for the race which is now called the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. But is it worth the trip? @Zimkazimka was there last year:
As this was my first ever live grand prix, I totally loved the atmosphere, especially the sound of racing cars (present everywhere, even if you don’t see them), and thousands of fans from all over the world.
The scenery is great – Baku is a beautiful city and the race is right in the centre, with access to waterfront opened only to race ticket holders. The location also means that once the race is over, you are only a walking distance away from the historic centre and tons of cafes. Ticket holders could also attend a concert each day of the race (but I skipped that).
The race itself was boring as hell. Despite being my first live race I nearly fell asleep at the grandstand, because it seemed like absolutely nothing was happening on the track. Also, the view from my grandstand was totally dull – a small straight stretch, which cars passed in a second. Good thing a beer stand was nearby, at least it kept me cool under the scorching sun. Oh, and the amount of obnoxious people who have no idea where they are and what’s going on (semi-rich and semi-drunk) was quite annoying too.
About five laps till the end I took off in the direction of the podium and as the race ended I was able to climb the fence, and film the ceremony (which for once had three different teams represented). That was a blast.
Attend another race if you can and if you want to enjoy actual racing. If Baku is your only option, my advice is to get tickets to the main grandstand (in front of pit lane and podium) if you can afford it. Better yet, start looking early and you might be lucky renting an apartment with a nice view of the race track.
They weren’t the only ones longing for a bit more action in last year’s race. Rob Andrews was also there:
The best thing was the Azeri people. I have never met such a welcoming, friendly and helpful nationality.
The worst thing was the actual F1 race. All the support race, practice and qualifying were great.
Advice: Eat in the town, rather than within the enclosed area for the circuit. The ’FOM approved’ food stalls were dull. You go through airport-style security to get into the ticketed area, so don’t take sharp objects with you.
British Grand Prix
@FJBH10 was watching right where Rosberg overtook Verstappen. Having heard the crowds can be very busy at Silverstone they were pleasantly surprised:
Got a great spot, crowds didn’t seem as bad as people say.
Silverstone’s chief drawback is one the locals are well aware of:
British weather, freezing cold and the torrential rain.
Be prepared for the British weather, bring a coat and umbrella even if it is scorching hot and forecast as clear.
Hungarian Grand Prix
Andy was not impressed with the pit lane tour at the Hungaroring:
It’s very busy and the only entrance is the main grandstand. You are herded down the pit straight, in one end of the pit lane and out of the other end.
I did it once and would never do it again. There are no drivers present.
Another drawback is limited connectivity:
The track does not have any Wi-Fi (or even a radio broadcast of commentary). There is normally a decent 4G connection and I use it to listen to radio commentary and check updates on social media during the race.
However Atticus urged fans to spend time exploring the track:
It’s worth wandering around the general admission at least once during the weekend, there are a few sweet spots around the fence.
As far as I remember, the closest you can get to the action there is at turn 12 at the bottom of the hill or up, right after the chicane
Belgian Grand Prix
Big crowd, lots of fans from the Netherlands, but that also meant lots of competition for the best viewing spots.
It’s woirth taking the time to look around the biggest and arguably best track on the calendar:
Plan ahead, know where you want to be for the race and get there very early (when the gates open). Bring kit for all weather and be prepared to walk a lot.
Italian Grand Prix
Monza has huge appeal as one of the sport’s oldest venues. And getting to and from the circuit is pleasantly straightforward according to Awizul:
Those on public transport take the train to Biassono-Lesmo Parco Station and enter from the nearest gate, it’s faster form there.
Singapore Grand Prix
Singapore’s unique night street race has bags of appeal but there are a few useful things to know to get the most out of your visit. @GregKingston travelled there from the UK last year:
I’d always wanted to go to this race since the very first time I saw it on TV, and it was everything I expected. Well-attended, enthusiastic multi-national fans and the cars look fantastic under the lights. The organisers also put on some great entertainment after each track session.
Street circuits tend to have one particular drawback and Singapore is no exception:
As expected the view was limited. We knew that there would be very few places on the circuit where you can see more than a few corners so we accepted that when going.
In the end we went for the Marina section so that we could get a bit of breeze and have an awesome view across the bay during the race.
When it comes to finding your seat it pays to have your wits about you:
Singapore can be brutally expensive if you stay in the tourist areas, but just a short distance outside them the prices tumble and can be pretty reasonable in comparison to any modern city.
The circuit is an odd shape, so don’t take your recommended entrance as the best one – you can get in quicker through some of the others and there are good facilities in the middle where the concerts are held.
If you went to the race in its first year and were put off by the organisation, @Goondu86 suggests you should give it another try.
The organisation of the race makes attendance really worry-free, only the first year (2008) was a cock-up in terms of human traffic management, once the kinks were worked out by 2010 it’s always easy to get around.
Experienced F1 racegoer @EvilHomer was also at the track last year and took a different approach to accommodation:
We stayed at the Park Royal on Beach road and it was less than a ten minute walk to gate one. Some stay out on Orchid Road as its a shopping district but it’s not walking distance to the track.
When you look at accommodation also look at what tickets you are going to have. The track has four zones, if you are in zone one you can access all zones and enter through all gates. If you are in zone zone you are limited to this zone and gate entry, so a hotel right next to the track could still mean a long walk if you can access that gate. And its a long walk around the track.
If the after race concerts are high on you ’to do’ its best to be in the zone of the stage (its wasn’t high on our list so we did Turn 3 Premier) but most of the major ones are in zone four. If you had to walk from zone one to four it may take you 30 minutes.
However it’s worth dealing with the hassle:
Singapore is a great event and I think the best thing was seeing the F1 cars live under lights, very spectacular. The crowd atmosphere is really good and the facilities outstanding. Like Melbourne, Singapore really excel with off track entertainment and certainly beat them when it comes to after show concerts.
Singapore was more expensive than Monaco in all aspects: tickets prices, food, drink and accommodation. Plus if you take kids the F1 finishes a little too late which basically rules out the after show concerts.
Drink are very expensive at the track, a beer will cost you $13-15 – not great. We had drinks in our package but if you don’t there is a 7-11 under the Singapore Flyer and they are $5.
Malaysian Grand Prix
Awizul from Kuala Lumpur offers this top tip for practice day:
Come on Friday and go to as many stand as possible and enjoy the view form each stand. It’s free entrance to all stands on Friday.
Like Singapore, the climate may come as a bit of shock to some visitors, however. @Sato113 gives some advice:
Bring water and something to provide shade. I had a thin blanket which I used as a sail, covering my face and neck. It was so hot on the Friday, especially as you are walking around freely, sitting where you like.
If going for all three days, buy an official three-day train pass. There was a makeshift ticket counter at Kuala Lumpur Sentral station, in the main lobby floor near the bottom of the escalator up to the shopping mall.
Japanese Grand Prix
Suzuka has many brilliant corners to explore but as @EvilHomer explains, you’ve got to be committed:
We didn’t go to B2 but did go to the Esses and that was awesome, do yourself a favour. Did plan to do to 130R, hairpin etc but Suzuka didn’t have any under- or overpasses that we could find so you need to fully walk around the circuit and it’s a long way to walk around, so that was a bit disappointing really.
We got to the Esses at the start of first practice, watched half then headed back. You can’t do more that a few corners each session due to the distance to walk.
Suzuka tends to attract a lot of domestic fans and those coming in from abroad can find it tricky:
We stayed in Nagoya and got the train each day then there is a short bus ride of 15 minutes to the circuit, then a good 10 min walk from there, they certainly don’t drop you at the front gate. We stayed at the Hilton in Nagoya, very nice but pricey but we done most other accommodation on the cheap so that was fine and splashed out a bit. When you first get to Naygoya go to the main train station and book your morning and return tickets for each day. You have to determine what time you would leave the circuit, which I didn’t like, but if you miss it you just get the next one and they are ok with that.
Also when you get to the train station in Suzuka book and pay for all three days for the buss then, that will save you a heap of time on Saturday and Sunday. It took us over two hours on Friday from hotel to circuit, then Saturday and Sunday just over an hour. I read before we left that the trains are chaos, they weren’t, but we left pretty early each day. You may even see a driver or two on the train, we had Pedro de la Rosa in our carriage.
There are hotels in Suzuka if you don’t want to commute each day, but they are very hard to get in to. Most drivers stay at the Suzuka Flower Garden, you cant stay there unless you are in team but look out for the many thousands of fans looking for the drivers leaving, its pretty cool.
Mexican Grand Prix
For all about visiting the Mexican Grand Prix see this article from a reader who went to the race in 2015:
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
If you’re planning to go to the season finale @Triples advises you to book carefully when it comes to accommodation:
Hotels on Yas Island quadruple their prices during the grand prix. The ones in downtown Abu Dhabi are far better priced and are only a 25 minute drive to the circuit. There is also a complimentary shuttle bus from downtown.
Those on a tighter budget can stay in Dubai which is one hour and five minutes’ drive to the circuit.
And although the sun goes down during the race you’ll still need protection:
Weather is fine at night and OK during the day as long as you are in the shade.
It’s a good idea to put on sunscreen but there is a big possibility that the security guards will confiscate it as well as any liquids on you so buy a small bottle just in case.
Over to you
Are you going to a grand prix in 2017? Are you skipping this season having gone to a race last year?
Have your say in the comments and find other F1 Fanatics going to the same race as you via these links:
- Going to the 2017 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park
- Going to the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit
- Going to the 2017 Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit
- Going to the 2017 Russian Grand Prix at Sochi
- Going to the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya
- Going to the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix at Monte-Carlo
- Going to the 2017 Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
- Going to the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City circuit
- Going to the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix at Silverstone
- Going to the 2017 British Grand Prix at Silverstone
- Going to the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring
- Going to the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps
- Going to the 2017 Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- Going to the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay
- Going to the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit
- Going to the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka
- Going to the 2017 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas
- Going to the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
- Going to the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos
- Going to the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina
Thanks to everyone who responded to requests for the tips and information provided above.
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