Jenson Button fans, Suzuka, 2016

Are tickets too dear? Crowds fell at some tracks in 2016

2016 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The high price of Formula One tickets has been seized on by many as an example of how Liberty Media’s purchase of Formula One might change the spot for the better.

But are ticket prices really deterring fans from attending races? Crowd figures obtained by F1 Fanatic for the 2016 season show sharp drops in audiences at some tracks but much healthier figures elsewhere.

Race day and weekend attendance in 2016

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2016
Hockenheim’s thin crowd was a cause for concern
Some venues continued to report very healthy attendance in 2016. Silverstone, home to then-reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, once again boasted a capacity crowd.

There was no hint of ‘second year syndrome’ at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez which posted an even larger audience than it did for its F1 return in 2015. Concerns Mexico’s race could weaken demand at the Circuit of the Americas were eased as the Texas track reported a much larger audience, no doubt thanks to the rain staying away in 2016.

Note that not all circuits issued race day or race weekend attendance figures when requested, meaning we have an incomplete picture here. And the likelihood is that those with the most disappointing figures will be the most reluctant to share them. For instance no attendance figure was issued for F1’s newest race at the Baku City Circuit, but as just 28,000 tickets were made available it was almost certainly the most poorly-attended race of the year.

Some of the less encouraging figures are clear to see. Germany’s race first for two years at the Hockenheimring attracted just 57,000 people on race day. That’s no better than the crowd for the DTM season finale at the same track, which was the tin-tops second visit of the season.

Race weekend attendance, 2016 versus 2015

The graph above reveals some of the key changes in attendance from year to year, including a few notable drops. One of the most troubling is Austria, where just 40,000 turned up on race day. Will that lead circuit owners Red Bull to reconsider their plans to restore part of the spectacular old loop of the former Osterreichring?

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The Singapore Grand Prix organisers also reported a significant fall in crowd numbers. This year’s Singapore Grand Prix is the last on its current contract. However when the deal was previously renewed in 2012 an agreement was only reached on the day before the last race of their existing contract.

Another venue whose contract is up for renewal soon is Suzuka. It too reported a drop in spectator numbers this year of more than 12%. A resurgent Honda could do a lot to address that.

Case study: Malaysia’s struggling grand prix

Start, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix didn’t lack action
Malaysia’s Grand Prix was one of the first examples of Bernie Ecclestone’s drive to take Formula One races to countries which hadn’t previously had F1 tracks and sign lucrative deals with their governments.

Next year’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be the 20th but the government has already indicated it will be the last. Whether this is actually the case or if they are just taking a strong bargaining position remains to be seen.

However they cannot be satisfied to have seen attendance for recent races slip back to the levels they were at when the Sepang International Circuit first opened. Criticisms that the racing has been too predictable and dominated by one team – even if it does have a major Malaysian sponsor – are far from wide of the mark.

Last year’s switch from an early to late-season slot (reversing its 2000/2001 change) did nothing for the audience figures. Indeed the organisers have become more concerned about competing for ticket sales with nearby Singapore.

Notes on the data

The organisers of the Monaco, Canadian, European, Belgian, Italian, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix did not respond to requests for information about their attendance in 2016. The Canadian Grand Prix promoters have supplied information on their 2015 attendance which has been added to this previous article.

Over to you

Should F1 be concerned about the fall in audiences at some circuits last year? Do you think ticket prices are putting fans off, or are there more significant factors?

Have your say in the comments.

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65 comments on “Are tickets too dear? Crowds fell at some tracks in 2016”

  1. Interesting article.

    I’m pretty clueless on financial matters, so I don’t know to put this correctly…

    It would be nice to see ticket prices from around the globe with a kind-of Big Mac indexed price to see how affordable it is where.

    Hopefully, @keithcollantine, you understand what I mean!

    1. Yes indeed, how many Big Macs for entry, for a seat in the stands etc. This relates the cost to local economic conditions.

    2. Ok I’ve quickly tried to figure out a BigMac ticket price index and an index based on GDP (PPP) per capita (how much a country makes per person) thi includes purchasing power within a country (e.g. it controls for local economic conditions) .
      I looked at the cheapest 3-day ticket (things would be a bit different for other ticket types and would be happy to give figures if people were interested). In short Malaysia is really good value according to both indexes. China, Canada, Japan, Italy and Austria also seem relatively good. Britain and Brazil are toward the bottom of both.

      The best/easiest data I could find was all from 2015 (maybe someone knows of better data particularly for ticket prices)
      For the ticket prices I used: http://f1destinations.com/2015-formula-1-ticket-prices-ranking/
      And for the Big Mac Index I used: http://bigmacindex.org/2015-big-mac-index.html
      GDP PPP per capita: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

      Big Macs
      Race Big Macs per Race
      Malaysia 10.43
      China 22.38
      Canada 22.41
      Italy 23.77
      Japan 26.11
      Austria 26.97
      Australia 27.08
      Mexico 29.85
      Hungary 31.86
      Belgium 32.63
      Spain 34.52
      USA 35.28
      Monaco* 37.17
      Brazil 40.12
      Singapore 48.44
      Britain 60.64
      Russia 70.59
      Bahrain No Data
      Abu DhabiNo Data

      * No big mac index for Monaco so used France’s

      The big mac numbers are a bit strange. Weirdly Russian big macs are very cheap at $1.36 and Big macs in Brazil are the most expensive at $5.21

      As an alternative I put in the GDP per capita (all from world bank data from wikipedia except monaco which is an estimate from the CIA data). To make the numbers a little bit more interpretable I’ve divided the GDP by 365 (I’d like to think of this is the number of days you would have to work to attend the race – but it isn’t really :( )

      GDP per capita per day to attend a race
      Race Salary GDP/365 per race
      Malaysia 0.30
      Singapore 0.73
      Monaco 0.78
      Japan 0.80
      Austria 0.80
      Canada 0.86
      Australia 0.94
      Italy 1.07
      USA 1.10
      Belgium 1.16
      Bahrain 1.25
      Abu Dhabi1.41
      Hungary 1.43
      Russia 1.43
      Spain 1.54
      China 1.57
      Mexico 2.11
      Britain 2.33
      Brazil 4.96

      1. This is great :) thanks for the effort. Interesting the Brail and Britain are both unaffordable but well attended

        1. I guess you just have to switch your view: they are the most expensive because they are the most attended. Demand and offer.

      2. @ejay: Ouch, that perspective on the cost of a weekend at Silverstone is something I want to forget about.

      3. @ejay, that really is awesome. Thank you so much for all the hard work. Fascinating stuff!

  2. Evil Homer (@)
    8th February 2017, 12:49

    The Big Mac index would be great to see. I have been to Malaysia and to Singapore- Tiger Woods could hit a golf ball between the two (well back in the day) but tickets at one are 3 times more expensive than the other.

    I have sat in a grandstand with my lad and lined up for a feed and a beer (Schumacher in Melbourne) and prices were ok ($550 AUD for the weekend). I have also many a time been in Paddock Club around the world- 9 times the price in Melbourne of a grandstand, a bit more in others- worth it?? You see the drivers, get a photo, have a chat and better food. But no, not worth that much price. FOM would rather clients or sponsors sit in Paddock Club looking over the teams, which is awesome, rather than proper F1 fans like us that pay our own ticket.

    That’s fine, we choose to pay that, but it doesn’t let the proper F1 fan get close & personal- F1 needs to get this back.

  3. I don’t think the ticket prices are the problem, at least in Australia where I’ve been attending since 2010.

    We can get a 4 day general admission ticket for less than AUD$200.

    The first time I attended a F1 race in my life was 2010, and everything was amazing! The off track and on track attraction was great (maybe a bit over excited as it was my first time). Spent two full days, sat and sun in Albert park, got Kamui’s autograph haha

    I know that more noise doesn’t mean that the cars are faster but it was definitely a selling point. Honestly, on the track we can’t tell what’s going on so hearing the cars going full throttle on the straights was an amazing feeling! I could feel the car because of that beautiful noise! I even didn’t use ear protection just to let it penetrate my ears and I’m a straight guy lol

    2011, 2012 and 2013.. same as 2010, leaving the track a few hours after the race watching Ted do his notebook, team packing up and the guys in Sky F1 do their thing.. I always wanted to buy the tickets for the grandstands but as a poor uni student at the time, it was not possible but still saved the money for the general admission.

    Then the hybrid era came.. a big turn off… felt not worth spending money for the grandstands but still went to Albert park in 2014, but only arrived late Saturday for quali and for the race on Sunday. Same for 2015 and 2016. Last year was even worse, arrived late for the race as the feeling was more like “I bought the ticket already I have to go now” rather than excited about the race. Spent most of the race inside a Renault Megane Sport in Renault kiosk watching the race on tv and never bothered going to look at the track. It’s just not exciting anymore.. to me, the biggest attraction is the speed comparison thing they do so we can rear that V8 F1 engine sound again.. I’m going to the track pretty much for that… I still watch over 90% of the races as I enjoy racing itself but if you ask me whether it’s worth going to the track to watch, I’d say no, at least not in Australia.

    In my opinion, losing that unique F1 noise was a big turn off to many people. I always invite friend to come along but most of them say no as they heard from people it’s quiet and boring…

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      8th February 2017, 13:23

      @allanlol86
      Allan- Yes we lost the noise mate, and its a factor to many- hard core F1F’s and your average fans alike.
      I don’t like it really but I deal with it as that is where our sport has gone- its not like ELP where a ball is, well, just a ball.

      Watch an F1 car live, break late, than accelerate fast out of a corner and you will forget the noise- these guys can make ’em sing!

      Is testing here soon haha!

      1. I totally agree with you, I still enjoy the amazing cornering speed and late braking, that’s the reason I still wake up 3,4,5am in the morning to watch races on the other side of the planet. I remember I stayed up on that Canadian GP that Jason won that epic race and I had
        an exam in the afternoon in uni lol

        However, I believe F1 doesn’t have a visible (hearable in this instance) uniqueness for new fans that doesn’t really understand racing or understand the amazing engineering on these new F1 technologies (a freaking 1.6L going over 320Km/h is insane!). I think F1 needs something more obvious to attract more fans.

    2. I completely agree with you, I’ve attended the Montreal GP a few times and its honestly a different experience with the hybrids. Not as good, the only reason I’m going back this year as I’ve missed the last 2 years is to help cheer on Lance Stroll. I still love the racing on tv, it’s great, but we do need screaming noise back. It was magical.

  4. Grand Prix tickets, as with everything in the world, should operate on a supply-and-demand.

    That’s why I don’t begrudge the high ticket prices at (for example) Silverstone, because even though they are expensive and I don’t like it, they sell out. Would you sell your services for a lower price than you could? Of course not.

    On the flip side, you have places like China, who should be getting rid of excess tickets at a fraction of the cost in order to get people into the circuit. There’s nothing worse than empty grandstands in my opinion.

    Yes, prices are expensive, but in some places it’s justified, in others, it’s madness.

  5. For me personally, F1 ticket prices are way too high.
    Bronze Weekend Ticket for F1 at Spa this year: 135€.
    This offers you a place in the grass next to the track. If you want a seat, you need to bring your own or pay a Silver or Gold ticket. And that’s it. Nothing else included than a piece of grass to sit on.

    Then there’s WEC.
    A ticket for WEC at Spa this year costs 35€. (yes, 100€ less)
    For this much lower price, you get:
    – a 6 hour race (almost guaranteed action-packed)
    – free access to all slopes and EVERY grandstand at the track.
    – free access to the bar/restaurant “Pit”. (This is the “Paddock Club” from F1. 4000€ entry fee)
    – full access to the paddock
    – a free pit walk in the final hours before the race.

    If I had the money, I’d go to both. But I don’t.
    So I have to choose. And then it’s a no-brainer for me to opt for the WEC.

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      8th February 2017, 13:27

      Nice- Can get WEC to Australia please ?? :)

      1. Not quite the same as the are no prototypes, but go to Bathurst for the 12 hour race next year. I went the first time (I volunteer as a race official) last week and it was awesome! Smaller crowds than Supercars or F1 events so you can go just about anywhere as well. 100% worth it

    2. @Baremans
      I agree. although I have been several times to Grand Prix races, my interest these past 4 years has been the WEC, notably Le Mans in June. for 83 euro I can access all week (all week !) to the trials, tests, quali, race. i think you need to put a bit more to have a decent seat (grand stand, Barnato/Chinetti – 105 euro I remember, next to Dunlop tribune where you see cars exiting the pits). A Tram leads me from the train station to the track (terminus being the track).
      i simply enjoy how easy it is to watch the race from different spots, similarly as you describe for Spa. I take free shuttles which lead me to the various spots of the track (Arnage for instance).

      so yes, compared to 250 euro for (the late) Magny-Cours i remembered paying — actually the Porsche cup which was the supporting event was more interesting– i would choose WEC style races.

  6. Fans may be staying away as the digital age makes “accessing races” from the armchair so much easier. A bit like Kangaroo TV did at certain tracks a few years back.

  7. Hopefully someone, somewhere has access to *all* the attendance and TV viewer audience figures and is doing the same kind of analysis that @keithcollantine has done so well here.
    It’s always going to be difficult to make judgements on track attendance without encyclopedic knowledge of local issues, such as ease of access to the track, parking etc. I remember someone here saying that loos and catering at Hockenheim were so disgusting that they wouldn’t go again. The time and method the tickets are sold will have an impact on attendance; are tickets ‘price elastic’ – if the price goes down 20%, will 20% more be sold?
    But, it’s hard not to be aware that the sport/entertainment of F1 is not in rude health. It has failed to carry some fans forward with its technology (see @allanlol86 above); it has failed to engage with potential new fans by use of new (social and online) media; it has failed to present itself to a less-than-fanatical audience by placing access to races behind a pay-wall.
    I do hope that there are some people at Liberty pawing over these figures and that there is someone doing the same at the FIA. Most of all, I hope that they get together and sort the future out before F1 withers and dies.

  8. Only 3 tracks appear to have sold out – Bahrain, the UK and Mexico. I am also led to believe that fewer tracks are giving figures than in the past – I’m sure I remember a year where 16/19 tracks gave attendance numbers (I don’t think Monaco has ever tried doing so, and a couple of others didn’t, but I can’t remember which). That is as much of an indictment as the total numbers – especially given that some of these venues get figures approaching this for much-cheaper series.

    For myself, the British Grand Prix is flat unaffordable for me (though I will be there for the WEC, Blancpain Endurance and the 10 km running race). I have to admit that if the French Grand Prix really can get its cheapest tickets down to €60, it might be feasible for me to do that one. (Yes, transport + accommodation in Provence is likely to be cheaper than getting those things for Silverstone).

    1. @alianora-la-canta

      (Yes, transport + accommodation in Provence is likely to be cheaper than getting those things for Silverstone).

      Also, the weather’s probably going to be a lot better. ;-)

  9. ”Last year’s switch from an early to late-season slot (reversing its 2000/2001 change)” – Why was Malaysia moved to the former early season slot in the first place? What were the reasons behind the original time slot change between 2000 and 2001? I’ve wondered about this for quite a long time, but haven’t really found any answers for that.

  10. I think they’re probably priced correctly. The full 4 day pass isn’t just F1 but the other support events too, and last year at Singapore we had Queen, Kylie (meh) and Bastille concerts thrown in too. If you’re just going to watch the two hour race then yes, of course they’re too expensive.

    1. I agree.
      90 minutes on a Saturday watching Arsenal play football will cost you £80.
      3 Hrs of F1 on a Friday. 2.5Hrs on a Saturday and 1.5Hrs on a Sunday for £300 is far cheaper per minute.
      And that’s ignoring support races.

    2. I’ve had no issue with the $550 I pay for premium grandstand for Melbourne, which gives me a 3 day pass (Thur is free for everyone anyway), shaded seats across from the pits, access around the entire track, pit lane walks, access to a few other areas where you can watch pit stop practice pretty close (if you’re smart), and plenty of things to do including lots of live entertainment from top bands and performers. It’s the cost of accommodation that I can’t stand.

  11. I’m actually considering going to a race for the first time this year, preferably to Spa.
    Not because the tickets are so affordable, mind you, but because I finally feel wealthy enough to give it a try.

    1. The 2016 Grand Prix was my first. Wonderful experience. Just do adequate planning beforehand.

      1. @willemcecchi
        So far, I’ve only seen testing at Spa (I think it was back in 2007), and that was already awesome.
        What kind of planning do you mean? :)

        So far, I’m planning to stay at my parents’, some 70 kilometres from the track. I don’t trust the shuttle system, so I think I’ll park my car somewhere in the middle of nowhere and cover the last stretch by bike. Do you think that’de be feasible?

        1. @nase:
          Covering the last kms by bike is feasible if you are in good shape. Very steep roads. Also, cannot recall a bike parking next to the entrance. Maybe there is one, but I didn’t pay attention.
          I suggest you simply go very early and park your car on one of the event parkings in the area.
          Those are not exactly right next to the circuit, so count a 15-30 minutes walk to the entrance.
          Early means: If the gates open at 0900, be there no later than 0800-0830. You’ll probably find yourself in the longest queue you’ll ever be in. If you go later, you’ll be stuck in traffic as all roads in the area will be saturated & blocked.

  12. A ticket for just the race on Sunday at Silverstone costs £159, even just to watch Friday practice, your looking at £55… These are just general standing spots, with no TV coverage, so for a a few minutes actual viewing time of a car zooming past over the duration of the stay. The cheapest grandstand costs £229, which gives a seat and TV coverage.

    Sorry, but, this is far too expensive for the normal fan, especially when you can see WEC (just in a comparison) at Silverstone for £40 for the race and £10 for Friday practice and if you have children under 15, they’re in for free…

    1. Just to add, at the WEC race, you also get free access to all the grandstands, including the international pit straight, which for the F1 event is £599.

    2. The British GP sold out.. if anything they should raise their ticket prices if you ask me.

      It should be that way at every GP imho, suply and demand.

      1. The British GP is far from sold out… only certain grandstands no longer gave tickets available…

        1. I meant 2016

      2. They were still selling tickets on the Saturday in 2015 and 2016 at kiosks up at Copse Corner. Makes me laugh when they keep saying sold out….er don’t think so.

  13. A lot of people complaining about ticketprices, but when you take Spa as an example a 3-day general admission ticket is € 135,00, that is € 45,00 a day. For that you get hours of practice of different classes and several races of those same classes including F1. Cheap? Maybe not, but compare it to a concert of a worldclass music act like say AC/DC I have been to last year. That one cost me € 90,00 for a field spot for a 3,5 hour show of which the main act 2 took hours.

    1. And with the 3-day ticket you are allowed to have a pit walk on Thursday afternoon and if you’re lucky you can score an autograph (or picture) of your favourite driver. I must admit it was very crowdy last year. But it’s included…

  14. I think something that has not been mentioned so far here is the costs beyond the Sunday or weekend rates to attend races. We must include the costs of hotels and restaurants that very well may have jacked up their prices for the race weekend. So unless a person is local and doesn’t need to spend money on food and accommodations, I think one must consider the overall cost for a tourist to come to a race beyond just the ticket prices, in analyzing attendance numbers and the reasons for them.

  15. Given the attendance figures and prices…. how the hell can Silverstone keep crying poverty??

    1. Because they have to pay so much for the privilege to host the race! This is why the current way F1 is run is unsustainable. Silverstone should be profiting massively from F1 give the amazing support, but in fact they are pretty much loosing money by hosting it. That is why most of the new races are in places where the governments will pay to have the races.

  16. A high proportion of the ticket sale money goes in payment for the race going to Silverstone.

  17. I went to the US GP in 2012 and 2013. for the inaugural race in 2012 I paid $500 for the Turn 1 three day ticket. In 2013 it was $650 for the exact same seat. and in 2013 there was even one Support race less. For me the Premium Seats ( Main grandstand, Turn 1 or any other area that provides great viewing, should cost more. a $150 price hike is a bit much for me. But what was even worse was the Hotel pricing. A motel that usually goes for $45 an night went to $300. I ended up staying in San Antonio (1hr 15minute drive) for the $45 price. But doing this for the whole 3 day weekend (get up early so you get there when the gates open to leaving when the action is done on track) is exhausting. To get to Austin it is 17 hours by car or fly for $400 round trip. Car rentals were also more expensive during that time.
    Some circuits get a whole lot more action that the fly away races. Europe gets all the GP2, GP3, Prosche cut, Ferrari challenge and more. Whereas the US race had in 2013 Ferrari challenge and vintage race (where everyone made sure that there is no contact and some cars were slower than my own car. In the end….. The Ticket prices are identical.
    I wish they would have the same support races everywhere to give you at least the same weekend value and action.

    1. I’ve been to 3 USGP’s(2012, 2013 & 2015) and I had the same complaint(except lodging because I lived in Austin) over ticket pricing. The prime choice seats went up dramatically from year to year. Since the race was mid-November and now late October, there’s no secondary race series to run during the weekend because most other American motorsports series are finished(except NASCAR). I just wished the USGP got an earlier event date.

  18. Tickets are a big problem,as in most countries they are pretty expensive.But its not only tickets,its the whole accomodation-transfer.I will tell you my personal experience,the one time i managed to go to a race(Hungary 2015).Even though Hungary has perhaps the cheapest tickets in Europe,you need around 250€ to get tickets at a good spot.But,its not only that.If you decide to “save” some money,you can travel with a bus,rather than the must convienient,airplane.I live in Greece,so i decided to go with a bus…While the flight might last 3-4 hours,with the bus we needed around 35 hours(!!!),What i want to say,is that the whole package is pretty expensive.Especially if you consider that the sport is in decline,you would expect the tickets to be much more “Fan friendly”.There is an economical rule,the law of Demand & Supply.When the prices rise,the demand of something is declining,but when the prices decrease,the demand is rising…For me it would be nice to see a decrease in Tickets prices,to see whether it will bring a rise in their demand!

  19. Just like concert tickets, racing tickets have gotten out of hand. Lower ticket prices would fill the stands and vendors would be busy too. There still could be VIP tickets for those who could afford them. #Lowerticketprices

  20. Here’s my solution:

    Step 1: Instead of taking a hosting fee, the F1 group (ie Liberty) should take over the lease for every F1 track for the F1 GP only (like Bernie once did with Hockenheim).

    Step 2: They should work together with local government and promoters to put together a great event with more family entertainment, mucis podiums, more and better food/drinks, merchandise and they should include a good supporting cast of F2 and F3 so that fans can see the F1 stars of tomorow ‘live’ (maybe also an F1 classics series with retired drivers competing in classic cars). Last but not least there should be way more accessibility from the drivers and teams for the fans. Make team stands around the track where fans can meat drivers and team bosses and do a fake pitstop etc etc.

    Step 3 They should create better facilities to actually be able follow the what’s going on during the race as a spectator (More TV screens, a good working timing app and online radio app for commentary and ofcourse working free WIFI at the track)

    Step 4: F1 as the lease holder takes all the income from ticket sales, concessions, trackside sponsoring etc. but pays for the event cost (i.e. temporary stands, concession stands and workers etc). The trackowners are free to host other events like Moto GP, DTM etc. for the rest of the year but does pay for the track itself (i.e. maintainance, alterations etc)
    helped by local governments/sponsoring partners.

    In this way F1 is forced to commit to increace custumor value for it’s fans, the track owners only need to get a littble bit of help from government/partners but otherwise the F1 event isn’t run at a loss and it’s great promotion for the track and general area. Governments will pay the lower needed sums as the F1 circus has an economic benefit for them more in proportion to their funding levels.

  21. Yes, F1 should be very worried.

    I was spoiled at an early age. My father took me to my first race and the V16 BRM marked me for life. It was a visceral experience enjoyed by my whole being. The unmatched sound of that engine and supercharger when at the top end of the rev band left me literally open-mouthed. The incredible speed as it ripped the air aside a few feet away from the straw bale on which dad had sat me. I know the dangers of nostalgia, but comparing modern F1 to years gone by – we now have a truly insipid, pastel shaded imitation.

    F1 has lost contact with its true fan base and become an over-regulated Sleb fest; and a very tedious one at that.

    I remember watching Ronnie Peterson hurtling into the old Woodcote behind “Black” Jack Brabham, waving both fists. The wily Aussie kept the young gun behind – how to make the overtake was part of the driver’s skill set.

    I remember when we had real up and close access, when the tyre mechanics handed out used slicks.

    Watching Senna, really on it going into Hawthorns, inch pefect lap after lap. His team mate (de Angellis?) missing the apex by feet – not because he was no good, he just wasn’t in Senna’s league in being able to cope with the massive turbo lag. From the inside of the track, I could look right down into Senna’s cockpit and felt I could reach out and touch his helmet. You could see the top drivers earning their money.

    Personally, I would like to see a return to high revving, normally aspirated, multi-cylinder engines. I would like to see some help for the present “also rans” – perhaps a requirement that the top three teams for this season undertake to provide their current spec engine to the three lowliest teams at a fixed (affordable) price.

    1. Yes, I know what you’re talking (in some way, because my dad told me the same) , he told us that he and his friends stayed inside the magnificents banked turn 1 and 2 in the old Interlagos circuit in 1973 watching the drivers taming these turns, and waiting to see which driver was able to do them without lifting the throttle. He said the first one was Ronnie Peterson. Also he told me about the sound of the Matra cars as something unforgettable….priceless. This is one of the things that made me love F1, and I’m lucky to watch the 80s and 90s races. I’m sure lots of people become fans per the influence of their parents. If we miss this link F1 attendance will drop even more.

  22. I paid 18 (US-)$ for the Race of Champions which was packed with action and side program and I had a perfect view.

    I don´t see the point to pay >100$ for the cars passing by every minute. If you want to see some action you have to go to the good stands for >300$.

    I´ve been to Monza once, it was a nice experience, but I doubt I will go again soon.
    I rather enjoy F1 on TV.

  23. I’m truly amazed to see Australia’s attendance so relatively high.

    It might be hard for others to realise how relatively small of a country we are in terms of population, and how far people all around Australia have to travel to get there from anywhere other than Melbourne. It’s not really relevant to the premise of the article I guess, but that was a big eye-opener for me.

  24. I wouldn’t be surprised if the attendance at the Australian GP is down this year after the fans were well and truly shafted out of any qualifying action last year (at least Saturday attendance anyway).

    1. Yeah, that was terrible. 5 minutes to go and people were already leaving. Lame qualy. But grandstands have sold out again like usual and true race fans will see qualy regardless while the people who don’t follow F1 are there for the spectacle, race and the V8s. Qualifying for them seems to be a curiosity, not a drawcard.

      One of the great things that Melbourne does is the free schoolkids day. For Friday practice schools from all over the city bring huge groups for a free day out. Talk about inspiring future race fans.

  25. People packed grandstands in the past to watch skill and daring.

    Less people are going to pay to watch rich kids drive around circuits with car park style run off.

    Simple.

  26. Little more data about 2016 attendance figures are on my blog (in polish). http://www.cyrkf1.pl/frekwencja-na-wyscigach-f1-w-2016-roku/

  27. Jorge Olivier
    8th February 2017, 21:55

    This shows why the Mexican GP has been named “event of the year” in the last two years. In 2015 when it was already one of the most expensive races in the calendar I correctly predicted that wouldn’t have any effect in ticket sales. Bernie just loved the place because they pay those ridiculous prices.
    As Mexican I can say -and I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is- that Mexicans are particularly uninformed and easy to cheat on and very, very bad to control their finances -in Mexico is considered normal to spend three or four month of income in a mobile phone-, a GP here is a gold mine, while a very low percentage of the crowd understand what they see on track. I would put the Mexican GP on its own category.

  28. A big issue for me with a young family is either spend 400-500 AUD on a 3 day grandstand pass to Melbourne GP or put that towards pay tv subscription to see all race sessions live.

    Since the switch to Pay TV I haven’t attended the Grand Prix, simple as that.

  29. Great article,

    I am a Ferrari supporter and I attended the rainy USA GP in 2015 but I did not come back the following year because I knew Ferrari had no chance of winning the championship. I know that Mercedes are the most likely team to win each race until 2020 when the current engine rules expire.

    The races are boring as there’s no inter team fighting. I won’t attend another race until it becomes exciting like it used to be during the V10 and V8 era. I know that there are many that agree.

  30. Well, Australia is very expensive and Malaysia is quite cheap by comparison, so…. not sure what does ticket price has to do with it. It’s local race culture that matters, and having local drivers helps too. But mainly it’s a well organized festival style event with other things going on between sessions. Apparently Malaysia is sparse and boring with poor facilities and nothing else on track.

  31. I still think its too dear to go, (Melbourne race – General admission). What ruins the experience of going is year by year, all the good viewing points around the track get taken up by corporate tents. It gets worse every year. Would love to see how the other tracks are, but for me it solidifies the fact thats its more about watching it on TV now unfortunately. Oh and hearing the V10’s or even the V8’s back in the day gave me goosebumps, so the appeal to go now is almost non-existent

  32. Yes indeed they are, but the same is true of other sports (well, here in Montreal I’m thinking hockey in particular), as a well as big name concerts, yet neither has trouble regularly selling out venues… F1’s real problem is that it’s not as spectacular to witness in person as it used to be. Now personally I might still not shell out the price of a ticket if it was all out speed, unassisted passing, real competition at the top of the grid and earthquake levels engine noise, but I’m pretty sure there are many casual fans for whom it is the difference between buying an overpriced ticket or not.

  33. The Key here is Value for Money. If I’m paying 400 to 500 USD for a ticket, I expect the experience to be worth it.

    Sitting on a chair watching Formula 1 cars passing by without anything extra is not value for money for me as a fan. Yes there probably is a giant TV Wall in front of me and grandstand speakers telling me whats going on, but its just not enough value.

    If ticket prices are kept this high, I expect similar value to, say, going to a Formula E race or a WEC race: I expect interaction with my heroes, an opportunity to take pictures of them or their cars, access beyond what I can see on TV.

    Comparing racing to a concert is a bit ridiculous. Two completely different products and expectations from audiences.

    The major advantages for a fan to see a live Formula 1 races compared to watching them on tv are:

    1- ” Being There, on the circuit” – This should give the fan an opportunity to see and feel things the fans on tv can’t- pit walks, group team visits, Drivers autographs sessions, etc should be a must in the above 400 USD tickets.

    2- Being close to the teams and drivers- the ” being there” experience should provide access that TV viewers can’t.

    3- Access to exclusive merchandise, memorabilia and Photo opportunities- Extra Value that TV watchers can’t

    4- additional before the show and after the show entertainment- Most venues do this like Singapore, but they are not included in all events. This shouldn’t be a key element, the other 3 above should be.

    All these make the notion of ” value for money” .

  34. Something has to give, but at some point it’s up to us the consumer to fight back with holding onto our dollar.

    I’ve been to 4 Grand Prix. Monaco twice (2013 & 2014), Austin in 2014 and Monza in 2015. This year, I’ll be heading to Singapore Grand Prix. I live in the North Eastern part of the United States.

    Anyways, the price differential between what I spend between the 3 different circuits were night and day.

    Monaco for two grandstand seats cost me 910.00 € in 2013 and 970.00 € in 2014

    Austin, in which we did General Admission was $300.00 for two tickets

    Monza for two grandstand seats cost me 600.00 €

    All four of these experiences were “Race Day” only tickets.

    Outside of Austin, which included a Kid Rock concert, all I got was a race and nothing else for my money. Not to mention the race at Monza was only like an hour and 15 minutes if that.

    Full disclosure, I plan my yearly vacations around F1, hence why I’ve never done an entire race weekend since I’m pressed for time being busy actually exploring the city and the surrounding areas that I’m visiting. This is why the cost of admission isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me since the rest of my vacations plays off the tentacles of the Grand Prix. I basically just look at it as the “Splurge” portion of my vacation.

    But, the fact that I have yet to go to Montreal (which geograpically the closest race to me) is simply because I just don’t think I’m getting enough value of the price of admission. Montreal is a city that I go to every other summer as it is only a little over a 5 hour drive for me, but with the way prices get driven up for lodging, parking and nightlife, as well as the price for Race tickets, I rather spend my money and go to a “destination” race since the only real significance difference at that point is airfare.

    My logic may be flawed, but it’s the way I rationalize spending what I believe to be an excessive amount of money on an event that doesn’t even last two hours in totally. What’s even more troubling is that the product at this point isn’t even that great. My only F1 experience before the Hybrid area was Monaco in 2013 and it was life changing. So much so I decided to go back the next year as I wanted to catch lighting in a bottle again. It didn’t happen and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Between the procession line which have been the arrows and the lack of mayhem of sound from V6’s turbos, it’s beyond me how F1 can demand such a price point. Nevertheless, the prices keep rising for a more and more inferior product.

    As I sit here and write this it is becoming more and more clear to me that maybe I’m just into F1 for the spectacle of the whole thing and not necessarily the nuts and bolts of it. On one hand I’m criticizing the sport and its presumed cash grab of a business function, yet here I am with my hand stretched out begging them to take my money. The irony! lol

  35. I’m going to the Australian GP next month in the Fangio stand, virtually right infront of the podium and just after the start/finish line at Albert Park. I bought a 2 day ticket (Saturday/Sunday) which is only $20 more than going on Sunday alone.

    Given the fact Albert Park is a street circuit I can understand why the prices are higher here in Melbs. I heard once upon a time it was costing tax payers up to 50 million to hold the grand prix and this value was always increasing year on year under Bernie. My general admission pass cost me next to nothing for the 2011 race. If the 3 day GA passes are anything to go by the prices are still annoyingly going up here, something I hope Liberty can put the brakes on in the next few years.

  36. According to Belgian and Dutch websites it was reported that at the 23rd of August there where 70.000 tickets sold for Spa. And they probably sold more at race day, let’s say around 75-80.000 overall.

  37. Prices in Austin aren’t really a problem overall, though tickets can get high. Most people here just go for race day, and a GA ticket is about $90. The track has great views and access to them, so it’s a good buy. The picture changes for a decent 3-day seat. My 3-day seats are about $700/seat all in, and these aren’t the top level tickets.

    I think the attendance problems are based on over regulation, and sound. If you follow F1 you get (some of) it. People were used to seeing F1 as the top of auto racing, where limits were tested. Regulations have narrowed the gap between F1 and other classes, and it may be argued that in some ways WEC now surpasses F1 overall in that area.

    I think the real F1 killer though, is sound. I started attending F1 in Long Beach in the 70’s. The sound and body feel of a 3L V8 entering the tunnel is still burned into my memory! When Austin started I took people to their first F1. People commented on “feeling” each car go by. After the engine change, people lost interest after attending again. The basic comment was something like, “If I can’t feel the cars anymore, I might as well just watch it on TV”.

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