Are F1 tickets too cheap or too expensive?

Are F1 tickets too cheap or too expensive?


0673CB7D9305 (1)Earlier this month, I read an article by a veteran F1 journalist which essentially said that F1 tickets aren’t that expensive. Here, I’m going to both defend and argue against this thesis – because they are both pretty cheap and very expensive.

There’s a simple old saying that goes: “you pay for what you get”. Don’t moan if your £30 smartphone doesn’t do 3G – you should have bought the one for £100 that has 4G. As a university student, I’ve been moaning about how expensive it is to live in London for the past year – but it was my choice to go there. If you want a luxury product, then be prepared to get your wallet out.

As luxury products go, there are few more elite than Formula 1. It is where the big names and big egos mingle with the fastest sportsmen in the world; is there are more glamorous event to be seen at than the Monaco Grand Prix? For the average Joe though, even a GA ticket can be pretty pricey.

Earlier today, another F1 journalist tweeted: “I’m struck again by how many F1 fans have never seen a race”. Frankly, I’m surprised that so many have.

F1 is by no means a working man’s sport. For that, you need to look at football and rugby. For £3.50, I can walk down to see Hastings United play on a Saturday in the Ryman League Division One South fixture. Double that price if I want to get a pie and a cup of tea. If I really want to push the boat out, I can get the train to Brighton and spend about £50 on the whole day to see some Championship football. It’s very accessible, and very cheap.

Let’s say I wanted to go to Silverstone for the weekend, though. Even with a GA ticket, taking into account accommodation, petrol, food, drinks, merchandise, you’re looking at a figure close to £500. As a son of a single Mum on a basic wage, that’s not an amount you can pluck out of thin air. “Sorry son, we’ve got no electricity this week – but at least we’re off to Silverstone!” I think not.

IMG_0699Even when Sky Sports obtained the rights to show half of the F1 races, following the sport became a lot more difficult. You’re looking at a sum close to £500 as a minimum to watch every session live.

I had never been able to afford to go to a grand prix as a fan. By the time I could, I was working in the sport.

So when I see fans going to three or four grands prix a year, I think that a) it is absolutely fantastic – people watching F1 is always great. But b) there must be some money there to do it. Be it long term savings or whatever, it’s good to see, but must it cost a bomb. I’m not even going to get started on Paddock Club.

The rush of being at an F1 race weekend must be unbeatable, so maybe the first journalist is right: maybe F1 tickets aren’t too expensive. However, it is everything around it that does bump the price up. Flights, trains, hotels – you name it, it can be pricey.

Again, it is the idea of “fan engagement” (F1’s favourite two buzzwords at the moment) that comes into play here. If F1 really was so concerned about putting bums on seats and more viewers on the telly, it would do two things. Firstly, ticket prices would be dropped by about half the price, with the sport making up for the organisers’ shortfall. Secondly, F1 would move away from subscription services such as Sky, and it would instead be purely shown on free-to-air.

Of course, neither of these are viable. Instead, F1 thinks it can curb falling figures with double points and standing restarts. I’m going to stop here before I go on another rant – you can read the first one here.

F1 tickets are both cheap and expensive. If you can afford to do it, great, you’ll have a wonderful weekend and get plenty of bang for your buck. In order to maintain its elitist image, the tickets can never be too cheap, much as a £50 iPad would give you serious concerns about its quality. (I’m sure that my A Level Economics teacher would be so proud of what I’m writing here).

For the working class fan though, following the sport is difficult. Without shelling out a minimum of £45 per month for Sky, you cannot see every race live on TV. To actually go to a race would be a wonderful yet very expensive experience.

The tickets need to be expensive, yes, but to call them “cheap” seems to blindly ignore the less affluent fans of the sport.

Images courtesy of Octane Photographic and Richland F1.


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Luke Smith is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Richland F1. Having started the website in March 2012, he has gone on to become one of the youngest members of the Formula 1 paddock after joining American broadcaster NBC Sports at the beginning of the 2013 season. Luke now works as the network's lead F1 writer, supporting the TV coverage on Luke's work has also been featured on NBC News, Yahoo! Sports, The Times, The Independent and Forbes, and he has also appeared on CNBC's TV series "One Second in F1 Racing".
  • Goran Dulic

    I’m going to tell from my experience. When I first went to f1 race on Hungaroring in 1995 gold ticket which is the main grandstand was 150 German Marks, which is in Euros 75. Pretty good price for what you were getting. In 1995 that grandstand didn’t have roof, ok fair but it still had big screen. Area for merchandise had f1 cars, almost all teams had a car there so that fans can see and touch and take a picture next to an f1 car. Girls walked around carrying pods for us to play games and maybe win some small price like McLaren keychain…. F1 gave fans so much more back then, for less money. They still had big names, Shcumacher, Hill, Hakinnen,…. They had sessions: FP1, FP2, FP3, Quali, Warmup and Race. There were support categories. Now days (2013 the year I last went to see a race) GA ticket was 100 Euros which would be in German Marks 200. Main Grandstand ticket is 480 euros (860 DM) and there are no cars shown for people to take picture, there were no girls walking around to make your day even better even if you don’t win a single keychain, cars are not running for half of FP1 or FP2. You can’t even hear them now in 2014 :) F1 has to change something dramatically in order to bring people back. No wonder that they are loosing audience on track. I have been 6 time to f1 race, I’m true fan of the sport since I was old enough to understand it (9 years old) and haven’t missed a single grand prix on TV, but I said to myself that I really don’t know when am I gonna go again. Sport is giving less then before plus you can’t hear cars now. So thanks but No.