Are F1 tickets expensive?

One of the gripes that one always hears from F1 fans is that the tickets are too expensive and that the prices should be reduced. The argument is based on the idea that 200,000 people paying half the price of a crowd of 100,000 equals the same result. This is not strictly true as there are many additional costs created by having larger crowds.

However, the key point in such discussions is whether or not there is a limit to the number of tickets on offer. Most races sell all their race day tickets and thus the price is set by supply and demand. More people want to go to Monaco than want to watch races in Bahrain. The aim of every promoter is to make as much money as possible and so it is important to find the right price point at which the stands are filled with people who were willing to pay what was requested. The fact that ticket prices are high shows that the sport is popular.

When you take a look at what it costs to go to other world class events one has to say that F1’s prices often seem quite reasonable. The reason I mention this is that this evening I am off to the Stade de France in Paris to watch the Rolling Stones in concert. There were 75,000 tickets available for this event and they were all sold within 51 minutes of going on sale. That is impressive marketing power, particularly when you are doing 30 gigs a year. The face value of the tickets we have is about the same kind of cost that one might expect to pay for general access at a Grand Prix and we could have spent a great deal more if we had wanted to be closer to the stage. Unfortunately we were not among the lucky folk to get tickets in those 51 minutes and so we have had to pay the market price. It took a deep breath but it is one of those things that one HAS to do. Bernie Ecclestone always used to say that Formula 1 was like the Bolshoi Ballet and that you have to pay to see quality and he has a point (although tickets to the Bolshoi are not THAT expensive because the number of ballet lovers does not seem to match the number of F1 fans).

Curious about ticket prices, I went on the Web to look at ticket prices for the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, on the same day as the British GP, and found that I could secure one for $8,200. I also looked at the World Cup Final in Brazil and was curious to see that I could get a ticket for between $5,500 and $13,500, not including transportation costs and hotels and so on. The price varies according to the number of seats available for a big event so, for example, a Super Bowl ticket for around $800 is to be expected if one buys directly from the NFL, but the secondary market will bump the price up considerably.

And it is not just sports. If you want to go to the New Year’s Day concert in the Musikverein in Vienna, you have to put your name down for a lottery each year (a year ahead of the next concert) and you must be prepared to pay $1,275 if you want a decent seat. If your number does not come up then the only option is to buy the tickets on the secondary market and the prices multiply accordingly.

So, in the overall scheme of things, F1 tickets are not that expensive. People with normal real world salaries need to save up to be able to afford them but they are not numbers from outer space as is seen in some other events.

304 thoughts on “Are F1 tickets expensive?

  1. Joe most of the events you mentioned are finals, one in particular only occurs every four years. I get what you’re trying to say but I don’t think it’s comparable.

    In my view, a parallel could be drawn with the top English premier league matches as they take place with a frequency more akin to f1, and you’re getting roughly 1.5hrs of entertainment for your ticket. (I’m clearly discounting the support races). I go to two or three races per year and the stands are barely half full for the support races so it shows the average fan is only there for the main event. On that basis, f1 is quite expensive….

      1. Since F1 races are held once a year in each country on the calendar, you can almost consider an F1 race as a final. Tickets will be priced at whatever the market will support.

          1. Similarly anecdotal figures, but interesting as well.


            Particularly in markets like North America, targeting passionate, well-heeled fans is a much better tactic than trying to go for huge numbers at lower prices. If prices were too high, people wouldn’t be buying the tickets. As much as the respected F1 journos scoff at those who complain about the new “noise,” we’ll have to wait and see if that and Mercedes’ dominance cuts into next year’s attendance figures.

            Anyway, while I don’t think these comparisons are apples to apples, they’re close enough. It’s a world class show and provides a solid value, especially at GPs with good support races in places like Montreal (quality varies). For NA, I wish they could secure more exciting support races (e.g., ALMS, Rolex Series, etc.). I can’t seem to find any information support races for the 2014 USGP.

      2. I’m not sure the public here in the USA agrees with you about F1 being world class, as the French Open was the lead in for the Canadian GP last weekend and NBC lost 2/3 of their audience when Tennis was over. While I enjoy F1, I’m pretty sure I’m a very small minority here. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same the world over.

        Enjoy your stones concert. 😉

      3. I am not interested in any ot the other world class events, and wouln’d pay a bean to attend them…, and I can see ALL of Wimbledon from my armchair.
        I went to many GP’s, and would like do so again, if it wasn’t ridiculously expensive.
        Last year I worked out I could drive to Monaco and buy £30 ticket, for the same price I would have to pay to Silverstone….!
        Meanwhile, the poor BBC highlights are turning me of F1…

  2. You do hear that Jagger can’t carry a tune any more, right? But I guess the nostalgia crowd of grey hairs do what they like with their money.


    1. That’s OK, Formula One cars can’t “carry a tune” anymore, either. They used to sound like a falsetto opera on steroids at 120 db. Now, F1 cars sound like weed-whackers with a carburetor stuck on full-rich. Sort of like Mick Jagger, then and now.

      That said, I went to the Stones about a decade ago and loved it; Jagger’s energy on stage is an inspiration. And as for F1, I’m still shelling out the big bucks to go to Monza this year.

  3. An issue I’ve always had with GP prices is the the ‘value for money’ aspect.

    You’ll will have paid a pretty price for the Rolling Stones tickets but you’ll get to see all of the stage for the whole concert.

    Naturally this cannot happen in GP but the last time I was at Silverstone was for a qualifying session. It was hard to tell the Red Bulls apart through the twin layers of mesh catch-fencing pushed back behind the run-off area.

    The ‘big-screen’ wasn’t big enough (when it was on) and I could only read it by using my telephoto lens. The circuit PA speakers were also broken in our area – not surprising because by the look of the age of them, they were probably in use when Silverstone was still used by the RAF.

    Moving around the circuit was horrendous due to the vast volume of people being squeezed into the permitted public areas and don’t even start on how much training the food vendors must have to do to be able to charge that much for junk with a straight face.

    Then it rained…and we went home early.

    Live motor-racing is fabulous (BTCC & BSB especially) but when I make any purchase, I want to feel like it has been worth it and all my F1 visits haven’t been – I’ve always left the circuit feeling short-changed.

    1. I agree Lee, most of the team’s factory-based employees don’t get any better deals or access than that either.

    2. If I go I get in for free and still feel short changed. It’s a rip off from start to finish and the limited viewing for the general public amounts to “oh look the blue car is still behind the red car…”

      To compare it to a concert would be to suggest

      you can only see.hear Jagger for 2 seconds out of every 1 1/2 minutes
      you can only see him when he comes onto one particular 1m sq section of stage.
      he may stop at any time and in fact may not even start at all
      The band start out on the same song but then changes tune approximately every 30 minutes but not in order or together and only come back again for the last 5 minutes

      AS regards the food prices: Bernie sets the prices and takes a cut.

        1. I do beg your pardon but we were told by a senior member of sfc group many years ago. Wonder why he would lie to us after 20 odd years of friendship?

            1. “Silverstone Circuit has enjoyed a relationship with SFC Group for over 30 years. They are currently responsible for the public food concession at Silverstone. They ensure the provision of excellent quality food and constantly review the variety of food on offer. They equally liaise with us to ensure that the food at the circuit offers real value for money, benchmarking prices in the local vicinity and across other UK prestigious sporting events to ensure that our pricing is competitive and in line with the marketplace. SFC are adept and agile in responding to the needs of the circuit which is often weather dependent; we applaud their tremendous team effort to ensure that the food offering at Silverstone lives up to a world class venue and maximises our visitor experience.”
              Silverstone Circuits Ltd

              1. SFC pays an annual fee to SCL for the rights to provide catering facilities (eg burger vans) during the year and across all events. When all revenues are gathered up for the British GP, a portion of that would naturally go towards paying the sanction fee. Bernie nor FOM set the price of the burgers. Do you not think he has slightly more on his plate than deciding what price the market might accept for a burger and coke?

                What you have been told is true, however it is you that has either mis-understood it or misinterpreted it. What a fun game of chinese whispers your life must be.

    3. It’s best to get a ticket package that takes you to a different seat each day. Even with that, it can grow frustrating. At Montreal, first row on the start-finish line is amazing during pre-grid, the start and pit stops, but the rest of the race is extremely boring from those seats. You cannot see anything but a blur whizzing by. Turn one and the hairpin is great to see lock-ups and potential contact, but you don’t get that visceral sense of how brutally fast these cars as if you were positioned just right in the esses. The other problem is that F1 has a much higher potential to hit you with a dud race than a final featuring two mega stars or great teams.

      Best motorsport viewing experience I ever had = the now defunct Champ Car series’ LBGP. As a driver/member of SCCA’s Cal Club region (they handle corner working, clearing wrecks, etc.), I got a “#1” pass (I really should have only been granted a #2 pass) that allowed me to walk the track’s inner perimeter the entire length of the track and even a hot pit lane (Paul Newman really was diabolically handsome – heh). While only an optical illusion, when you stand within arm’s length of a Champ Car w/nothing obstructing your view, they look much faster than F1 car. I wasn’t even a fan, but that was amazing. I’m sure guy like JS have gotten to enjoy privileges like that for more races than they can count. Small wonder, they put up with the aggravation.

  4. Interesting comparisons but statistics can be made to tell any story you want. I think value for money may be more appropriate.
    It’s not that long ago that the cars would be on track for three full practice sessions followed by all cars competing for the whole of qualifying. On raceday there was also a morning warmup before the race itself.
    These days, with tyre and reliability limitations the practice sessions are not always fully utilised, in qualifying we lose cars at regular intervals before parc ferme rules out the Sunday warmup.
    And next season there is talk of ditching Friday almost entirely (I bet the cost of a weekend ticket doesn’t go down).
    Now I’m sure for many, F1 is only ‘the race’ and that the rest doesn’t matter but for others the whole weekend plus testing is what completes the picture. Being able to view the cars from different parts of the track allows the spectator to get a better overall view of the cars relative performance.
    I’ll admit that I may be a bit odd, but as a keen photographer as well as an F1 fan of over 50 years, I much prefer cars on track plus the freedom to wander freely to the ‘get in early, pick your spot and don’t move for 10 hours’ experience of raceday.
    And if you want real value for money, try pre-season testing – €15 to get in and cars on track for up to eight hours. Thank heavens F1 seems to be finishing its dalliance with Bahrain pre-season.

  5. With all due respect Joe, I think to compare the cost of a seat at a F1 race to the other events you listed is an apples to oranges comparison. You’d make an!ore compelling argument ifnyouncompared it to another form of auto racing, be it NASCAR or IndyCar ( in NA anyway).

    But that being said, when were talking seats to an event being in the hundreds of dollars / pounds / etc, then a large contingent of the viewing audience will be consigned to the telly or pub. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    I’d have loved to be at the Montreal race just passed however tickets + associated expenses make it unaffordable for me. As they say in Spanish…ni modo.

    1. The British GP is a one-off event in the UK. There are tennis tournaments in other countries… As to the World Cup if you read the article it mentions world class events. Tonne they are not very different.

  6. I’ve been going to GPs since 1974 and overall think the price for tickets are fair when all is considered. However, 3 friends all sports mad but never been to a GP were considering going to Silverstone and could not believe the price for a GA ticket – they think I’m mad. They think that £30 for a premiership football match is excessive. My wife paid £20 for a day at the London Paralympics – she thinks I’m mad. The problem is the next generation will not pay current prices.

  7. well considering other motorsports are considerably cheaper than F1 and get you closer to the drivers than F1 does, F1 is not very good value and pinnacle it is certainly not.

  8. The Monza Grand Prix last year only lasted about 1.25 hours (about half a pop show gig) so ‘yes’ F1 tickets are expensive by comparison. I thought about going to Spa this year but they’ll get by without me so yes, F1 is losing its fan-base IMHO.
    (Just received my two tickets in the front row of a Box at the Royal Albert Hall to see the Pet Shop Boys at the London Proms. The cost is well under half a single grandstand seat at Silverstone so that’s a useful comparator).

    1. A ticket gets you more than 1.25 hours tho, it gets you 3 or 4 days in most places. Australia has great support action on track. I have no qualms paying $600 for 4 days entertainment.

      1. I agree with Simple, although it does depend on the venue.

        If all circuits followed the example set by Melbourne then people would feel that they are getting more value for money

  9. It’s all relative to the individual’s income.Everything is expensive to me, but we have little disposable income.

  10. Although I too do not think F1 tickets are that expensive (what value you get from them compared to say fan access at American motor racing is a different matter), but… To compare F1 ticket prices to those of super bowl, Wimbledon final or world cup matches is debatable at best. By the same token we could compare them to a premiership football match between Arsenal and Man U and then F1 seem rather expensive. Or we could take past Olympics where I could name plenty events that you could go to for under the price of an F1 general admission ticket etc. Let’s see if the attendance numbers next year are still the same and then we have a true indicator if fans are willing to pay the admission price for what is now on offer following major rule changes.

      1. Because you picked the most expensive events where the demand far outweighs the supply. Wimbledon finals for example (who for that very reason implement a ballot system, something not needed in F1 ever). You can not seriously claim that for these “world class” event the supply is at par with that for say Silverstone. F1 is premium sure but not elite and probably sits in between events like a Premiership football match and a final at Wimbledon.

          1. I think the better argument would be….is what is offered at the track still world class and are the prices right for that. So seating is crappy, food is crappy, tv screen is crappy & circuit commentator was not heard all weekend…then the race itself might be a nice event. But the experience can still feel overpaid…..I am lucky enough to have been in Abu Dhabi & Singapore as well for F1, for that matter F1 at the Ring is also done pretty good. Spa however was already a lot less well organised.

            So with that in mind I do understand why some people do debate that prices are too high. Because in some races it really isn’t a world class event anymore….

            1. I don’t think you will convince Joe that he chose a bad analogy!

              But it’s quite correct that a fortnightly F1 race is not comparable to the Wimbledon final, or the World Cup final, regardless of a title proclaiming the event to be “world class”, and for a number of well elocuted reasons above.

              I would rather watch the F1, personally, but the comparison with the events proffered is flawed.

              1. I still don’t agree. When F1 goes to each country it visits it is a world class event for that country. This is where the value is. That is the same as a one-off like Wimbledon and even the World Cup Final. World Class must be understood in relation to the market, not compared in the global sense

                1. To me I think the PGA tour would certainly seem closest as comparisons go as they are similar events held world wide on a yearly basis attracting a strong local following as well as overseas visitors.

                2. I see that point, yes, fair enough. And the action/sponsors/teams ARE world class outfits.
                  I think what most people believe is that for their own particular F1 event (which for 99% of the races is not the title decider), it is priced beyond what is on offer at other similar events. And that must include such trivialities as facilities, parking, catering, viewing position etc.
                  Can you imagine turning up at the opera a la Silverstone; that is arriving like herded cattle, covered in mud, vainly attempting to supress the indigestion from cheaply manufactured hot-dogs, then battling/praying that ones’ seat gives a half reasonable view of the performance?!

        1. For several years in the Senna era they had to have a ballot/lottery system at Suzuka because demand was at least twice the seating capacity.

  11. All of the sporting events you cite are finals, for sports which are much more popular than F1. And as you can’t always tell in advance which F1 race will be the championship decider I imagine there isn’t such a premium on tickets until maybe the last moment.

    My own quick web search shows that you can get a ticket to a Premier League football match for £35, and the cheapest ticket to the British GP this year (for Sunday only) is £150. So going to a couple of GPs is likely to be cheaper than a football season ticket. Looking at it that way, maybe it’s not so expensive.

  12. “If you want to go to the New Year’s Day concert in the Musikverein in Vienna, you have to put your name down for a lottery each year (a year ahead of the next concert) and you must be prepared to pay $1,275 if you want a decent seat.”

    True but they play more than one piece of music… You can also usually hear the same as everyone else and don’t have louts letting off airhorns when they hear their favourite bits of music. (You can also see the players playing; they’re not 95% hidden from view.)

    A friend and I are going to Spa on our travels this year, but our schedule means that we can only go on the Friday; however you can’t get tickets for just Friday, so we’ve had to shell out for the whole weekend. Not a massive problem, it ‘s a one-off trip but when there’s little guarantee of seeing much action it still feels as if we’re being fleeced somewhat. Hopefully we’ll enjoy just being there; another circuit to tick off the list.

    Now on the plus side, you are doing a damn good job of marketing F1 by comparing these events; I’ll probably use such examples the next time I hear someone moaning about ticket prices…

  13. I don’t think the tickets are too expensive for the sporting spectacle but they are too expensive for the facilities provided at the circuits. Went to spa last year and was happy to pay for a covered grandstand seat (in case it rained!) at eau rouge but would never go again as the food was limited to cheap (in quality not price) burgers/hotdogs and chips, (hardly any choice, I can only assume any vegetarians ate chips for 3 days) the toilets were covered in faeces and to top it all the commentry at the circuits is very poor, so it was very difficult to follow the action.
    Its maybe that we are spoilt by having such good tv coverage that makes you feel part of the action but instead of feeling closer to the sport at the circuit, we were left feeling the opposite.
    F 1 promotes itself as a luxury brand but for the normal fans that attend, the experience away from the on track action isn’t even half decent let alone luxury. It’s is no longer the 1950’s and if I spend the equivalent of 2 months take home salary on a weekend away I expect reasonably decent facilities. For me it is this, rather than the ticket prices that is putting me off attending anymore f1 races.

    1. I agree regarding the poor facilities. I’ve attended two races, both in Montreal. The first time, I bought the cheapest grandstand ticket because that was all I could afford at the time. The seats were terribly uncomfortable, it was cramped, I was exposed to direct sunlight on a very hot day with no shade, and there were long queues on sodden ground for foul-smelling toilets. If I wanted to eat decent food I had to bring my own. Public transport worked fine but the walk to and from the track suffered from bottlenecks. I would prefer to never attend a live race again than to go through that torture. This year I bought hospitality/VIP tickets, not because I wanted to rub shoulders with industry chiefs or models, ride on a fancy boat to my seat, eat too much food, drink free wine and have my own shopping experience, but because I wanted to be able to sit comfortably under cover and have access to decent toilets. It was an enormous amount to pay for my simple needs, but there was no middle ground. I’d like to go again but would find it hard to justify the cost; my fellow attendees were probably charging it as a business expense.

      In contrast, when I’ve attended football games at Arsenal, I’ve had a comfortable seat under cover at a purpose-built facility and been able to use decent toilets, all at a much lower cost. So it is most definitely debatable whether you can compare F1 races with other sporting or entertainment events. If F1 venues had decent infrastructure you may have a point, but those that don’t are very lucky that demand is strong enough to sustain those prices.

  14. Tickets aren’t that expensive if you look early enough, take some time to research travel options and are able to enjoy a race from general admission. I’d like to think I have one of the best seats in the house with G.A. at Monaco, including travel & food, all for about the same price as just a weekend ticket in one of the stands…

    I have to say I was surprised that I didn’t need to spend a small fortune to see one or two races each year. Wish I’d learned that sooner.

  15. I agree with you Joe. There have been a few complaints and snide comments from fans and the anti-F1 crowd in Austin about the ticket prices for Austin F1 race, but in comparison quite a few of the F1 tickets are cheaper than those for a University of Texas football game. And none of the football fans in Austin complain about those!

  16. I still have my ticket for the first USGP West (1976). It was race day General Admission and cost, I think, $6.00 USD. At 5% compounded annually that would be about $40 today. A quick check shows Sunday’s GA at Montreal last weekend was $97 CAN. So, about double. Unfortunately GA has been squeezed so much over the years I gave up on it. The Long Beach hairpin stands the next year (watching Andretti’s end of race pass for the lead!) cost, say, $25. That would be about $160 today Unfortunately you can’t get a one-day ticket at the Montreal hairpin – it costs $$450 for the weekend. A pretty big jump. But, to Joe’s point – you didn’t see any empty seats did you?

  17. Joe, here in the USA we call the secondary market “scalpers”. And rightfully so.
    Love your blog. Keep it going….

    1. The time to buy from scalpers is about 10 minutes after the event starts… they get remarkably reasonable then… pennies on the dollar…

  18. The price for a centre court ticket on Sun 6th July for the men’s final is £148. That is the official price from Wimbledon, not $8200.

    You complain about others misrepresenting things and yet that’s what you’ve done here to justify this story about prices. Why? It’s beneath you.

  19. The Rolling Stones tend to sell out every venue though don’t they? Does every F1 race sell out to capacity? I honestly don’t know but it doesn’t always look that way on TV.

      1. Now you’re really stretching. China, Korea, Malaysia, Abu Dahbi, Bahrain, Valencia, are all sellouts? Turkey never came close which is why it’s gone as well.

        I don’t expect you to agree as you never seem able to back away from a position in spite of contrary evidence presented.

        1. China sells a huge number of tickets. Korea did well in the last years. Malaysia did not do well this year but is usually a big crowd. Abu Dhabi and Bahrain are both sold out each year. Valencia was not a success. These are the facts.

          1. But they are never sellouts. And every TV broadcast shows acres of empty seats.

            And I would also have to include in the definition of world class the facilities as well as the fan services. The action may be world class and the support for the attendees needs need to be as well.

  20. I am reasonably certain the rule of supply and demand has remained largely unchanged overtime so none of the comparisons are that alarming or compelling.

    Instead of cost you should be thinking in terms of value…. does f1 offer value to the general paying punter? Enough for the casual observer to grasp what is going on and rave to their friends about the overall experience thus building a larger audience? This is linked to your musings from early in the week.

    Having been fortunate (silly?) enough to attend 8 of the current calendar races I would be surprised if the average person thinks F1 offers value for money. Amenities are frequently of average to poor quality, viewing opportunities can be limited, the booking process is a lottery in most cases and most importantly, you get to see very little of what you actually pay for over three long days. Talk of further reducing track time under the guise of cost reduction reinforces my belief that F1 treats fans and the paying public with contempt.

    An interesting article for GP+ would be for you to attend a race in the guise of “average Joe” with a GA pass, you may be surprised how you perceive the show from this lens. Actually, all the promotors should do the same.

    I would argue that the Stones gig will be great value compared to a F1 race…

    1. I think it would be a valuable experience to see some of the team bosses and decision makers spending race-day as a punter with a GA ticket after they’ve spent two hours in a car trying to get into the circuit. Obviously race-day is when they’re busy so I doubt it will ever happen.

      I think it would do more good than various lip-service fan forums that seem to pop up and achieve very little.

      1. I think it would be a valuable experience for punters to be team bosses for a day. It’s never going to happen but they might understand a lot more if it happened…

  21. I merely observe that, as a teenager in the early 1970s. I could afford to go to the British GP. As an adult in the 21st century I cannot.

  22. My problem with f1 tickets in particular silverstone I’d that I attended Friday practise 3 years ago for £35 this year it is £65. Over 3 years this is a massive increase and one that I just cannot justify paying. The other issue is that for less than a standard weekend ticket you can do a trip to spa or monza and get a grandstand seat. I get your argument about supply and demand which I guess is the job of the circuits to maximise profit but it does price many fans out

    1. But it’s not the circuits trying to maximize profit… it’s the circuits trying to survive.

      They are cheated out of all standard revenue streams by FOM except gate and concessions. Then, after FOM has crippled their ability to earn revenue, FOM then sticks them with a humongous fee for the privilege of hosting a race that they can’t make reasonable money on.

      So, other than chasing F1 to other nations where the gov’t is dumb enough to underwrite the whole thing, what else do you expect the circuits to do?

        1. If the money charged by FOM on circuits is directly linked to a percentage of ticket sales, then we might see FOM taking F1 to countries where the people actually like having F1 there.

  23. Hi Joe,

    Normally, I am a supporter of your views. I’ve subscribed to GP+ and I read your blog daily. Today, though, I think I have to question your logic.

    What is the point of you quoting outrageous prices for (and I stress the following word) ‘the’ Superbowl or ‘the’ Wimbledon Final or ‘the’ World Cup Final?

    These are one-off events that happen once per annum, or worse, once every 4 years. The World Cup Final is akin to the Olympics but on 1 day. These are not 1 of ~20 events held annually and they are not events that can hold either 100k+ people OR I might add, events that provide you with a terrible view of the overall spectacle.

    At any of the events you point to, for the prices you are quoting, you can watch the whole thing in relative luxury, without missing 90% of the goings on. F1 is not in the same category, as much as you may or may not like it to be. Please adjust your view accordingly.

    My take on your article: if the purpose of your comparison is to acknowledge that F1 is absolutely out of reach for the average bloke on the street then you have succeeded.

    One of the key arguments I usually hear about F1 is that it’s a whole day Vs 90 minutes or whatever that you’d experience at a football match. However, imagine how spectacular the cost is for someone to take their whole family to the event, in the cheapest possible way e.g. 4 x £100 general admission tickets (which is about the cheapest it gets – it might be cheaper in developing countries but if you’ve not got to factor in travel, which costs loads, then you live there and in fact earn probably -10x less than the UK/Europe, therefore the tickets are probably more like £1,000 in real terms). So at least £400 (sometimes closer to £600) just for the tickets for 4 people, plus food, petrol, accommodation if you stay overnight etc. it’s ridiculous.

    Joe, I honestly believe that if you don’t acknowledge this then you are totally disconnected.

    The amount it costs just for general admission for a small family to an F1 event is probably not far off what that family could spend for a short holiday abroad. It’s not just expensive, it’s phenomenally expensive and prohibits at least 50% of fans from attending.

    We haven’t even started on grand stand seats.

    To put in perspective, my household income is £120k+ per year and I CANNOT justify spending £500 extra (for 2 x people) for the privilege of sitting down with a big TV in front of me, let alone £3000+ for the privilege of getting to meet my heroes in the paddock club. Please bear in mind you can pay about £175 per person (£350 total) for a Premiership football match, which includes all-day eating, drinking, a live game in comfort and hospitality where the players/manager/former stars mingle with you afterwards.

    What you have done (and please admit this), is basically pick the most expensive events that it’s possible to attend and then say, “Oh well F1 isn’t as expensive as that.” What does that prove exactly?

    I applaud you (sarcastically), on an incredibly well made point. You are right, it is possible to spend more money on other events. A lot more in fact. That doesn’t mean F1 isn’t too expensive OR that it’s really the preserve of the rich/privileged. And I say that as someone who could afford to do it and whose father was an F1 mechanic in the fifties (to Mike Hawthorn, which I’m very proud of – go on Dad) and has this sport coursing through his veins, with passion.

    F1 IS expensive. It’s disgustingly expensive. If you haven’t got a lot of money, you can save your ar$e off and just about manage it, so long as you restrict what you eat, & where you sleep to the bare minimum and accept standing for 3 days, with a rubbish view for 2 of them and that you definitely can’t take your granddad. You also have to accept that some other major thing in your life will have to wait, like a new 3 piece sofa suite or a holiday for your family.


    Think about that. You can take your family out for the day to the football for so much less. Out of curiosity, I just Googled general admission tickets for Wimbledon on finals day… the one-off, only 1 event per year. Do you know how much they are?


    Great article, Joe.

    1. Matt, you’ve done a much better job than I (which isn’t hard to do)…

      IMO, you’ve focused on exactly the crucial points… thanks for that…

    2. Matt, I wholeheartedly agree with all your comments made here. I would also like to add that the flood of corporate hospitality has to be paid for and it’s reflected in OUR ticket prices. For my last GP at Silverstone I bought a grandstand ticked at Stowe corner. Awful view, there was a steel fence support right in front of me – never again! The previous 3 GPs I queued up all night to try and get a decent trackside spectator point. At the “World Class” events, most of them you do get numbered seating (at least a seat) are not forced to scramble for a decent view. My first GP was in 1974 and a trackside enclosure cost me £5, the program cost £1 and was stuffed full of stickers. Freebies were in abundance! Now it’s all pay, pay, pay. With a family it’s just not affordable. Corporate hospitality has destroyed the spectacle for ordinary people. I feel Joe has lost his way with his terse replies. He berated United for poor customer service but try and be herded like animals at a GP year in year out, not even sure if you will have a good view, children unable to see much and so on.

    3.  Well spoken, Matt. The world of higher rate taxes, for a long interval of income increment before you need budget to manage your money, is a head spinning place to be. Those who have only just got their head and shoulders above the highest marginal band are set upon from every angle as if by the hordes. We’re talking demographic ideals for marketers, shy of true wealth.

       If you are a business owner, oh the greater fun for you. That’s a whole other game. I feels you’re just in the bracket where everything you do is regarded as fair game from the tax man seeing you as a fair target because, oh how dare you, you just scraped into the realm of being a net contributor to the exchequer, to bank fees, high fee investment products…

       Unless you are lucky, you are beholden to all manner of things, credit ratings become as valuable as a home: have something crash your rating and I’ve seen mortgage servicing costs double… and this is all before one starts thinking of contingencies like a high rate future.

       Any specter of a return to historical interest rates is a frightening prospect. I know one acquaintance who having paid his mortgage long ago, geared it as much as he could, to free capital as collateral to borrow more. Because the loans are effectively free and not keeping up with what you can get as a return is always long term sorrow. My pal’s point: all it would take is one calamity, one accident or illness needing more than the NHS can provide, stretched as they are, and he would have only one source of capital, illiquid, and no idea if he could borrow at future rates. It’s trickier than that, because not a harebrained gamble.

       The reality of being “comfortable” depends on a lot of factors and at what you would hope to be a healthy income is not all it seems, and to my mind depends always on having a high mental bandwidth to keep so many moving components from acting against you. You’re having money problems without real money.

       My apologies for more words than may have been needed. It just sickens me that it is those families who are actually just net contributing financially to society, are terribly squeezed. I’m disregarding the social issues with how people view you with assumptions of wealth and all that can unpleasantly entail.

       As for going to the races, there is nothing premium about the way you are treated for premium prices. Of course much is just practical. A good seat at the opera affords a much more definable experience than a grandstand at a race, in terms of satisfying desire to enjoy a show completely. I never get this quote right, but Walt Disney said of his theme park idea, that the primary objective is that if the paint aint cracked, the rides all ride and you’re never kept waiting longer than normal anticipation can bear, that’s what will keep people happy and keep them coming back.

       I think we need someone with experience of theme parks or someone who has studied them, to take a long look at the facilities. All Bernie has done really is demand new things, and expenditure and upgrades. But never have I recognized there was a insistence on a level of experience that a Disney “imagineer” would understand as detail required to make a crowd happy.

       Bottom line, it’s not merely marketing that is required, but a head to toe rethink of what this F1 experience is supposed to be, because the things that cause strong feelings of poor value are in need of practical change. Then you can start marketing.

       On the upside, though: F1 could be a veritable playground for truly talented designers, promoters, park managers, you could imagine assembling from around the world a prodigious pool of bright minds and variety in dele experience, and have a brilliant time transforming the experience.

       How ironic, when I clicked through this link, I got a Microsoft advert with Lotus / Microsoft Dynamics featuring. I must be dense sometimes, to not realize it must have tickled someone at Microsoft to prominently use the name Lotus. I’m sure many here remember Lotus 123, Notes, Improv .. “it ain’t done until 123 won’t run”…

       That article is a collection of suggestions to save Apple Computer, from 1997. Many are really good, very close to what was done.

       The list of contributors to that list of things to save Apple is notable.

       What I want to do is to get a similar effort up for F1. Not only from the motorsport world. I’d like to hear what Steve Wynn has to say, or someone from the gaming industry, someone from realty / real estate, someone from Disney, someone from Hollywierd, and so on. I think you could get a lot of vox not so pop to chime in.

       Joe, it could be a great article to do. You might need to cold call some unusual names, but with Malone fishing around, I think you would not have such a hard time to get interesting voices. Ask Mark Cuban, or Carl Icahn, Martin Lewis author of Moneyball and other fame… how about Francois Pinault, Bernard Arnoult, pop your head up by telephone around the world to who ever touches big sport or luxury brands or finance for them.

       Add in some for fun. What would Jeff Koons do about it? Or Gordon Ramsey about feeding the crowds. The fun would start with putting the problem case into something non race fans could use to grasp the issues.

       Doing a piece like that is part publicity stunt on its own. But with the business in play I think you’d be treated to attention from characters who may not otherwise ever think to chime in publicly about a motorsport. Heck, do a special issue. Honestly, “The Trouble With F1”, or however you title it, would sell. You could totally shift ads in it, starting with the theme of business regeneration and moving on through technology and environment. Why not? Write the agents for every star from music or movies who ever rolled up to a race. Sure, make it glossy, you don’t have to pangloss the sport to make the failings interesting and positive as challenges. Very much “here’s the good problem” as a pitch, starting with how the technology made for the current rules… fans would buy copies, sponsors, adland, financiers, anyone in marketing, you could even attract the kind of NatGeo reader who likes big issue magazines in depth on a subject.. not to mention the economics, and media and distribution angle. F1 is not quite a babe abandoned on a doorstep, but it should and could be presented in the same “who could have left that lovely creature here” immediate emotional sale.

      1. Well, I read it all. To my mind it has 3 parts:

        * An initial polemic on taxes.
        * A middle part.
        * A final suggestion (to Joe) about a possible article (or series thereof) wherein talented non-F1 people who understand non-F1 success are invited to take a crack at addressing some of the things F1 is distinctly lousy at.

        The 1st part makes me wonder if you’re familiar with the drastically bad consequences in the US of transferring the tax load downward to the almost-late and well-worth-lamenting Middle Class… who now pay a great deal more to get a great deal less while earning even less… meanwhile the less-taxed wealthy are soaring to new heights, having gained much and lost nothing (except the remnants of any conscience they might once have had).

        The 2nd part is the 2nd part.

        The 3rd part is IMO absolutely great. I can’t influence what Joe does, but I certainly can hope he does it.

        If he doesn’t, I hope somebody else does (provided they have a clue).

        1. Hi RShack,

           In a word, yes, sadly the tax burden has been shifted downwards in both the UK and the USA all too painfully. I cut my initial reaction from this comment because although I think I had the right drift, I decided I want to look deeper into a few things. One thing your comment prompted my still sieve like brain to do, is make a note to raid my pal’s bookshelf of a volume that I picked up thinking it would send me to sleep. Late Regan era study on all the ways middle income families were being squeezed. Then. When Bruce Springsteen was singing economic current affairs. Just another sad thing to loose via technology: my dad picked up Darkness On The Edge of Town and quietly nodded while skimming the lyrics on the sleeve. He was pretty shocked at Springsteen’s then youth. Anyhow, this book turned out to be full of meat. Lots of apparently primary data on how small financial effects accumulated. From making the wrong auto loans due to impaired credit, to issues of co-pay costs, all set out in long term studies of large samples of real families. I really must go steal this book, please remind me if I haven’t by next week. Putting it right before the tax breaks and the steady progress to negative savings rates, it painted a grim picture of “just managing” households who were being nibbled away. One presumes ever more dying the thousand cuts, since then. But it struck me as a valuable boom to get stuck into. Data extensively collected I remember directly form the households’ accounts, not survey.

           The condition of the middle class, or is it the loss of a middle class, is hurting everyone from school kids looking for odd jobs in summer, to, well, we can see it here, whoever it is owns formula one. Affordability of tickets is too sensitive a problem to solve by just saying we can all save up for maybe a race a year. The fact is that it has to be a very small minority who attend races, no choice about that. But who they are and what they relate of their experience is equally unavoidably a significant contribution to the perception of the sport. I don’t agree it’s comparable with a Premier League soccer game, there’s so many of those. Neither is upset at high prices a indicator of absolute health. But if Joe was testing the waters, there’s no mistake about the strength of feeling among who if GP+ subscribers are highly committed fans, and from the sounds of it, right in the “squeezed middle” of the economy.

           It would be a bold endeavor, if only because it’s hard to do social economics and not talk drivel, to look at F1 in terms of what the economy has been doing to the fan base. Has there ever been study of fans in this way? Are there surveys on file of perceptions, general public impressions, going back any time?

           I somehow don’t think that forty years ago, anyone would have had a “economic comment” as to how they perceived F1, if asked in the street. I bet you’d get some answers now.

           Not because a generation went and took economics degrees, but because day to day life became increasingly politicized by economic factors. You need only put The Boss on your player, to know why there’s that much more care, and worry, and lament, and whole generations wondering what happened to progress. Aside, I think the benefit of having Haas bring a team from a home base is in a way overlooked: no matter how much we know teams have their sleeves rolled up and are solid with plain speaking no nonsense men and women, but the perception is of a rarified ivory tower setup.

           To a certain extent that was encouraged. Should not the pinnacle of autosport be ivory tower, ever so fantastic? But I’ve ben thinking what a American team can bring, is a sense of being down to earth. I don’t mean to be unfair, but there needs to be a bit of a breakthrough to counter perceptions of effete European culture, taken to the nth degree in Talladega Nights so humorously, but it’s a impression which exists. The great thing about that film is how it made American buddies of mine laugh at their own prejudices. If they weren’t laughing, we might not need to think about the reality of how F1 is seen. Have you ever seen F1 on the television in a auto workshop? That may romanticize aspirations to the point you think Tom Cruise is about to hand you a wrench, but it’s a image that would simultaneously make me giggle, same time as being a crude icon of what getting a real fan base might be like. Oh, definitely that’s a twisted little dream, but boy do we need to engage at different levels.

           Sudden thought: why are there no F1 branded Lego constructors kits? I mean ways to play with engines and electronics that say a fifteen year old me would have drooled over, gotten a extra proverbial paper round to save up for… annoyed the hell out of my long suffering sister with…

           Could we not take interviews to people who make toys, toys for boys wanting to think and do big boy things; and merchandising experts, whilst we’re at it? Can there be model F1 cars? I think the physics of the combustion and energy recovery might not work at model scale, but is it possible to simulate the recovery store and reuse, even cheating by having a “fake” electric “combustion” part? How close could one come to a model that you can experiment with? I’m not thinking rich kids toys, but school projects if parents chipped in. Or model societies. Has there ever been licensing to model makers of any kind?

           Picking up readers of say Make magazine would be brilliant. Maybe you’d only get a small number of model makers, and have only enough numbers for a “world championship”!!? I’m more interested in how widely you can discuss relevant technology with experimenters. Would a Raspberry Pi make a viable ECU? Not as delivered vanilla, but there’s a world of add on boards and many aimed at semi professional use on lab benches.. I guess a selling point for model makers would be to program their own control software. Can a model kit, or the sum of supplier parts, be kept below, say the price if a weekend at the race? How many people would be attracted to apply for permission to supply branded parts even for a model F1 series? The element of attraction in my thoughts reflects the element of attraction that NASCAR has, of being in the realm of possibility for mere mortals, of “oh, I could do that!”.

          I realized as I was writing my comment above, initially about a magazine special issue, call it GP++ (sorry, awful joke) that I was writing down a dream job for a year, to pull off such a project. Okay, less than a year, you’d want to start now and go like crazy for Christmas, but unless a abject flop, you’d roll on after pushing distribution and chasing leads arising from reactions. There’s so much you could tie in. I can imagine you could stretch ideas out from such a production into a alternative annual review.

          The cleverness ofmarketing I believe is in proportion to the complexity of interconnections it makes that can be repeated or reused as remembered thoughts or impulses or reference points, reference points including Old Spice commercials self parodying old ones, for example. Nothing of what I’ve gotten bothered about to scribble away on is, even all told, big budget. It’s about lots of actions, all low key, high attention to detail, low barrier to engagement, high aspiration. Note I say actions, not interactions. These are things you reach out to present, like handing out flyers instead of putting up billboards. Linking a YouTube clip not advertising a TV subscription. You make the first move, not talk about how you “interact” before you’ve gotten the message into someone’s hands. Like I used to do when bumming around with a pint after a walk, with a laser print of GP+, to whoever takes my seat as I’m off, “here you go mate, cop a load of that if you like”. Not had one thrown back in my face, anyhow.

          What is too easily overlooked, is how much even hard bitten fans want is aspiration. No matter the complaints, send the message there’s intelligent life and good things are coming. Actually selling such a title would mitigate so much grumbling, it might even compensate for your favorite driver parking in the gravel on your Sunday out. Because the one thing fans want, is to know more. To know they can see more, will be shown more. It’s already such a cerebral sport, for aficionados. Imagine wrestling fans talking like doctors. I guess it happens, but that’s what I imagine when I am called out by non fans watching a race with me. Maybe I should let on why I giggle when trying to be straight faced about how tire temp works with suspension or a flat spot is such physical cruelty, or the marbles are collected… all the new stuff with the PUs is super fun to explain also, because if you imagine you’re Leslie Nielsen spoofing a emergency ward scene… well, I’m just strange, I guess…

          You could treat The Trouble About F1 as a double meaning. In a documentary you could do a wrong foot opener with talking heads bashing the things that do them mental cruelty as fans, before getting into why they’re still fans.. allow the lament, but keep it sharp, clear cutting complaint, why despite it all we love it. We all love to love screwups. Remember when I suggested HRT just re brand as HURT? Could they have lost anything? Can F1 not take a bit of better ridicule than being known for white kitchen appliance comments? Like the Apple Computer piece, nobody would be there if they didn’t care. (Peter Sellers on the phone to the Russian premier to tell him if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be calling about the B52 bombers past their safety points) dammit I know guys who definitely have the ability to pull off the sales.

  24. I am fortunate to have gotten seats close enough to the racetrack for Austin. and I did have to allocate a larger budget than I really wanted (given that coming from NYC I will be paying for hotel, car rental, flight). In Austin, most of the other “non-paddock club” stands are in boring places, where you see cars handling 50mph turns, or are 100 meters from the track. At that distance you might as well save your money and watch the race on TV (where at least you’ll probably hear the engines better, hehe :))

  25. I agree with you to a point but are you saying that people/companies should always charge the maximum amount they can and not take into account the less well off? Surely this will then make F1a rich man’s only sport with many true fans only able to watch it on TV. Plus if the same principles are used for everything many would starve.

  26. Tosh. Sorry Joe.

    Comparing F1 tickets to the final of the football world cup is entirely unrepresentative – there are approximately 80 times more F1 grand prix than football world cup finals.

    Similarly, while you could argue parity between Wimbledon’s final (the pinnacle of the British tennis calendar) and the British Grand Prix (the pinnacle of the British motorsport calendar) it’s pretty false, there are only a handful of grand slams across the entire globe in the tennis season. The two Wimbledon finals would probably both be considered as ranking in the top 10 tennis matches around the world to see in a year.

    Comparing finals to single races is spurious anyway – the British Grand Prix may be the “pinnacle” of Britihs motorsport, but it’s hardly a climax of a championship. “I was there when Coulthard won the British Grand Prix” is hardly a story to tell the grandkids (okay, it might have been if I were in the grandstands and saw the podium celebrations) compared to “I was there when we won the World Cup” (as a very fortunate Spanish friend of mine can claim).

    A more useful comparison might be made with matchday tickets to football team games, the Guardian put a decent digest of such things here :
    It’s a little out of date, but it’ll do for our purposes.

    However this data is dangerous to interpret – the upper bounds of pricing are probably fair game (and the best seats at Silverstone are comparable with the best seats at Real Madrid, although over triple the price of the most expensive British matchday seat at Arsenal) but the lower bound is going to be affected by the type of match and quality of opposition as football clubs vary their pricing structure – it’d be useful to see the official price of the cheapest seats at the most expensive matches.

    The killer, if I might be so bold as to bluntly point out that I know exactly what the problem is, is the price of taking a child.

    I’ve been to the British Grand Prix once, in 2000 on Easter Sunday when the car parking was inevitably somewhat waterlogged. As it happens, my father is a Northerner and I was thus very well aware that his ticket cost £90 and mine a mere £15.

    For 2014, adult GA is £205, an inflation-adjusted 2000 adult GA ticket comes to £123 in 2014. That’s equivalent to a constant 6% increase every year – over a period where (adjusting for compound effects) inflation averaged 2.2%. That’s pretty bad, but the fans will stump up.

    Children’s tickets however are a farce. Child GA tickets in 2014 are £104, almost 7 times what they cost in 2000. That’s consistent price rises at almost 15% each year. About the only sector which has seen UK wages increases that fast is top-level professional football. The best data I could find quickly put inflation-adjusted child GA tickets at £20 and some change – a fifth of their current price.

    Joe, you’re always saying that F1 needs to engage with a younger generation (something which the Rolling Stones don’t require, they won’t be here to spend it in 25 years) but the way the money men have it set up, circuits and promoters can’t help do that.

    If F1 needs to engage a younger generation, needs to get kids interested, get kids into engineering to be the Adrian Newey’s of the future; then it needs to engage more with them, it needs to encourage kids to come along. They’re the engineers and journalists and fans of the future.

    But right now they’re engaging with videogames, and I can’t blame the parents for that – Dad could take the two boys to the British Grand Prix for one afternoon out, or he can buy them a brand new Playstation 4 and keep them quiet and happy for months. No contest.

      1. In short, that the answer to the titular question is “Yes”.

        Further, that your comparisons are deeply flawed, but comparing Silverstone 2014 pricing with Silverstone 2000 pricing (and other entertainment competing for people’s attention) shows that the prices have exploded – especially for the children you’re so often keen for F1 to connect with.

        It appears to be a surprisingly off-message post for you, given that just the other day you were talking about mother’s holding the purse strings. If my mother is anything to go by, £15 spent on something frivolous is easily ignored, £105 rather less so.

          1. Perhaps it would be useful to define what you mean by “world class” in this context, Joe.

            None of the GPs I have ever attended would constitute a 3-star hotel in terms of the facilities afforded a GA ticket holder.

            F1 might be a world championship, but the way promotors treat their paying clientele is often outrageous…

            And they use the excuse of the fees that they have to pay to CVC.

            Most promotors are out to get as much cash in as possible without spending any money on the facilities used by the paying public (not those who are being hosted by corporate accounts).

            If promotors created a great schedule of events over three days, had facilities that were half decent (quality food, good and hygienic toilets, good ingress and egress, good viewing sight lines, vfm merchandise) then they could make money. However, most GPs are hosted at circuits that have poor annual calendars and therefore rely on scalping as much cash as they can in three days whilst not bothering with the quality of any aspect of the event.

            When disposable incomes are quite solid, and corporate accounts flowing with freebies for their chosen few, the sport will garner cash (which then leaves the sport); however, as disposable incomes diminish in real terms, then fewer people will be able to choose to spend household income on a solitary pleasure.

            Look at the grandstands and GA areas of a circuit and ask how many families and children you see.

            Soccer went through the transition from male game to family game several years ago quite successfully … F1 should recognize the long-term value of it being a family entertainment/sport.

            I would love to take my family with me to a GP weekend. I live 2 hours away from Montreal and have a reasonable income, yet I cannot afford to take my family with me, so it ends up being a selfish indulgence and ever harder to justify in terms of the family budget.

            F1 is vastly overpriced according to any economic logic: it does not make good long term business sense to out price a large number of the people who want to provide your income… particularly when you cannot justifiably claim that it is a quality event…

              1. Sorry Joe, I have to disagree…

                I have worked in a variety of luxury goods industries where various players would use the term “world class” and yet each of them meant something different. There are cultural aspects as well as physical aspects.

                Is a five-star hotel “world class”? If so, where does that leave Dubai’s seven-star hotels?

                Is Louis Vuitton world class, or Hermes? I would suggest that they both occupied the same space until maybe 20 years ago when the market expansion of LV meant that some quality and exclusivity aspects changed and degraded. With Hermes, there has never been a similar drop.

                That’s why I am interested in your definition of “world class”. Not to challenge you, but to understand exactly what you mean. If it were obvious, I would not have asked.

                BTW, the following is from United Continental’s corporate website:
                “United is the world’s leading airline and is focused on being the airline customers want to fly, the airline employees want to work for and the airline shareholders want to invest in. Highlights of United Airlines include:
                World’s most comprehensive global route network, including world-class international gateways to Asia and Australia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East with non-stop or one-stop service from virtually anywhere in the United States. A modern fleet which is the most fuel efficient (when adjusted for cabin size), and the best current aircraft order book among U.S. network carriers. Industry-leading loyalty program that provides more opportunities to earn and redeem miles worldwide. Optimal hub locations in 10 cities, including hubs in the four largest cities in the United States. Rated the world’s most admired airline on FORTUNE magazine’s 2012 airline-industry list of the World’s Most Admired Companies”.

                They ‘obviously’ claim to be a world class airline and use data to support their claim: if the criteria they use were inaccurate they would not be able to make the claim unchallenged.

                Your experience of the airline in comparison with the experience you enjoy with Emirates (I have no dispute that Emirates is an excellent airline) leaves them coming up short in many areas (again, no dispute there as I have had awful experiences on United), but which is world class, or are they both deserving of the title, using different and separate criteria?

                This underlines my question to you: what do you mean by world class in this specific and narrow context of F1?

                The comments on this post from many race fans would lead me to believe (unscientifically) that my experience of sub-standard facilities at GPs experienced in Europe and N. America is far from extraordinary: from a fan’s perspective the experience is hardly world class when measured by the criteria we have mentioned. Hence it is overpriced and exploitative of our love of F1.

                You are quick to point out how CVC and the FIA are missing out on many commercial opportunities surrounding F1: I think what we are doing is agreeing with you, but framing it differently.

                We fail to see value for money in the ticket prices charged, but spend the money anyhow because we love the sport.

                If the ticket prices were more in line with reality, then perhaps the younger generation would engage with the sport. This is something you often mention is not happening, yet you appear blind to one of the more obvious reasons: exorbitantly high admission prices and a poor overall experience…

                Apologies for the long post, and again, I am not trying to disrespect your opinion, just have a friendly debate!

                1. If I didn’t have something better to say, I would argue, or might have in the past argued, that my little company is “world class”. Why? Because our function could be compared with what other businesses were doing in a quite esoteric field, where they are few and far between, and so we’d look around the world for comparable outfits. Sometimes not distinct companies, but entities within a group, or even a division or team we’d become aware of with a approach we could compare to intellectually. That would be my cheap argument, anyway. I remember a debate we had about using the words in a customer brochure. One of my colleagues was based in Asia and there was a cultural affinity he felt he had to compete with, to inflate everything from superlatives to job titles. We would make him up spoof titles as “promotions”, “Worldwide Executive Vice President, Chairman Leading Customers Group, Senior Partner $company Asia” just to see if any customers blinked. I was updating those on his email signature block, which isn’t user alterable, and wait see if anyone noticed. Sure, he was in on the joke, the funny thing was that title inflation seemed to help him cut deals. I remember him lecturing me seriously on the importance of producing bigger sales literature, by volume. A bit like if you go to court, stuffing a ominous looking bundle into a file marked something attention seeking like “company confidential, advance discovery” (hastily scribbled over in marker pen, to fake a hurried attempt to conceal, even) can be a little head fakery if the opposition is lightweight.

                  “World Class” is I’m afraid a marketing self parody in two words, unless you are prepared to define it. And if you can define it succinctly, maybe just lose the extra two words.

                  I have no doubt the racing is world class, but those are just two words which don’t stretch well when you want them to cover a lot of ground.

                  Another fine point from Stephen. I don’t think Joe misunderstands any of this, just this is more than about semantics and very much about a particular description being not very helpful.

          2. What I find quite telling is that :

            “If the overall viewing figures of Formula 1 are falling it is because the commercial rights holder is putting some of the sport’s biggest TV markets behind pay-walls. Fans are objecting and rather than paying, they have either ceased to watch F1, or have found nefarious ways to acquire satellite signals that allow them to watch the racing, albeit with foreign commentary.” – Joe Saward, June 14th 2014

            And yet a basic Sky & Sky Sports setup costs £32.75 per month (for the first year…) = £393 per annum.

            While a father driving two kids to Silverstone is £172.91 + 2x£86.46 + £57.64
            (adult, 2 children, parking) = £403.47 for a single race.

            (I confess that I accidentally confused prices in Euros for GBP in my previous posts, which has significant percentage effect without really diluting the point much)

            The Bernard tells us all that going to an F1 race and the sound of the engines is inspiring and what it’s all about. Joe, you then tell us that the sport needs to do more to appeal to people other than the older upper & middle classes.

            So your point is that F1 tickets are reasonably priced because they sell out? That the sport shouldn’t be aiming to be more inclusive to broaden its fanbase? That F1 being a “world class” sport puts the British grand prix into a select group of top level motorsports events in a year means that it’s okay to compare a standard race, loosely equivalent to a league match in other sports, with the grand finals in other sports?

            Compare the British Grand Prix, a race now worth 1/20th of an F1 championship, with English Premier League matches (probably the most famous and most-watched football league on the planet) and it gets embarrassing fast.

            Go and take a look at the Guardian article I linked above, find the table and sort it by most expensive match-day ticket, in descending order. This is the ticket price for the best seats available without a season ticket, some of the best views in the stadium for the biggest and best matches of the Premier League season, in which “world class” teams go at each other on a regular basis.

            Arsenal come in at £126, which apparently only covers a hundred or so of the truly best seats:

            The next English club is Chelsea, who’s most expensive seat is £87 – small change above half the price of the British GP tickets. So an adult can go to two top Premier League games, let’s say Chelsea vs Manchester United and Chelsea vs Manchester City, (worth 1/19th of a Premier League championship) for the same price as a ticket to Silverstone.

            And to be absolutely clear : I am comparing the best seats available at Stamford Bridge to the worst “seats” available to just get into the British Grand Prix. It would be much more representative to compare these prices to the pitlane main grandstand at Silverstone, but at £357.33 it’s beyond a joke.

            I could fly to London, go to see Chelsea play Manchester United and fly home again to Lyon all for less than a Sunday ticket to the main grandstand at Silverstone, including transfers, a bloody good meal in central London and a bloody horrible one at the airport of my choosing.

            To finish on the comparison : every other English Premier League club comes in below Chelsea on the price list. Scroll down far enough and you’ll find Manchester City at £58 and Manchester United at £52 – both less than one third of the price of Silverstone GA entry. Time your trip right and you can probably go to Manchester for a weekend and watch two “world class” matches with a night’s stay in a cheapish hotel…. for less than a Silverstone GA ticket.

            As a final throw-away point : that Guardian article is from January 2013, meaning the info is a year old already. Manchester United have put prices up in the meantime, by one pound to £53, an increase of 1.9%.


            Joe, I respect your insight into the sport and I appreciate this blog as I’m sure you’re aware given the amount of time I spend writing posts on it. But on this issue I simply do not understand your logic. The idea that F1 tickets are not “expensive” because they all sell or because the eBay price of such things is often higher seems to be utterly disconnected from your oft-stated position that it is not healthy for Formula 1 to be so focused on maximising profit today at the expense of the long term health of the sport.

      2. I thought Jem was bang on the cost for minors’ tickets. They really should not be so close to adult tickets. Taking kids to a race is something that is a whole expedition. I’ve done my bit in the past for friends’ kids, backed up with my wonderful octogenarian German friend who has reserves of energy as if he was still smuggling people across the half built Wall (he did, and got in a lot of trouble, and all sorts of amazing things, he went to we Rosmeyer race as a boy, and had a longstanding feud with a past FIA boss, the man has your back in a tight spot, just what you need for days out with kids..) anyhow, I have a particular bother with long range planning, I am very bad at it. These things are tricky enough to arrange.. some tickets are at parity. I’ve not kids of my own yet, but I feel a whole sight more like I earned it if I am allowed to take along a gang, and that has worked wonderfully. However everything starts to grate. Parents worry over diet, okay ways to pack lunches, crikey my pal is a godsend, I never could contemplate these things without him… but without going on a rant about all the hassle involved just to get approval from parents for such a outing, much of which is really just their work demands and planning, causing late booking almost as a necessity…

        I have when I’ve tried, bust a gut to try to make things as impromptu as they can be.. without a heartfelt rant on the critical path analysis of arranging a few kids to have a day out of any kind, parity with adult ticket prices takes away so much pleasure, because you are going to so much effort over and above, in the hope of hooking a couple of future fans. At the end of a long day, you really feel like you ought to get a little recognition. Oh, I may just not be cut out for handling kids, but I feel obliged to try, because I can explain what is going on, can fill in the gaps and explain the race, and it feels downright brilliant when that receives attention and the race is enjoyed in a way no sky subscription can create. But this year is a pass. Most parents are cash poor, even if asset rich, my slush fund for such human enjoyment is sadly diminished, if it’s my idea, it’s my tab… calculating a four figure sum last time i floated the idea, sadly a tight spot for me, made me think I could only do it if I asked for contribs from parents… my friends who I feel I owe historically for many kindnesses. Maybe next year, some better work coming in, or just old fashioned saving up. But there’s a time to catch young interest, and as the kids grow up, I fear the best time to impress is running out..

        I doubt I am alone in trying time to time to take such trips. Those of us without kids have a role to play in life, often supporting our friends who do have kids. I personally thing, e.g. hanging out with my contemporary age groups is unnatural and dulls the mind, and with active friends in their eighties, my pal has a twelve year old, she’s a tom boy and revels in high energy, the old devil in his third marriage, those are lives I am privileged to share and enjoy. (I get such cooing form mums, oh look, how nice he brings her grandfather out!) Not being a parent usually allows you freer income, usually has for me, and it’s brilliant to take a handful out, when you can. The thing is, when prices are found out by parents, I have been often asked is there not something better I could spend the money on? Theater is a frequent suggestion. It’s been a bit hard to not be assumed I’m just doing a favor to take the kids off their parents’ hands, and prevent the idea forming I’m enforcing my own interests. I almost agree, at several hundred quid, or getting ever closer to that, heck, we could go the galleries in Paris for the day.

        Basically, in my example, it is very hard to even compare value with even other sporting events. Forget Stones’ gigs. As for traveling with kids, I really want the European GP to return, to add a little rotational pressure on Silverstone, and offer even time to time, another opportunity on home soil. If who I think is slowly taking the bait (the lad has my sky login, which was itself a bit of a trial to clear with his mom, who is rightfully averse to exposure to too much television) and so long as I keep hearing he watches races with interest, in a couple of years travel might be more doable.

        It’s a bit hard, sometimes, having missed the usual boat for having children. Sharing the sport with the youngsters makes me happy, cements friendships with their parents, has benefits all around, and I think keeps my mind alert and healthy. Just watching a race in mixed company is a better experience to me than in a gaggle of race fans, or worse at home and inclined to mentally switch off form some events. If the race is good, it’s fair exercise top, to get excited without blurting rude words, to think as a commentator, or however you fudge a reaction..

        Joe, you are always concerned about the next generation of fans. Sorry for a longer than necessary reply, but I really double took at your asking Jem what his point was… I’m just putting in my bit for possibly a very small demographic, heck probably not a demographic at all, but I think those of us who can contemplate taking kids other than their own out to races ought to be more encouraged. Especially as we’re so much less committed to other plans, of I have been so lucky in the past. Not the least, if you get a couple of kids interested, they really want to take their friends. You can fill a rental people carrier just like that. It’s horrible when you have one pull out because they won’t go without their best friend.. I want the number of seats in the car back and forth to be the limit, not my credit card line. If there was a way to encourage surrogate moms and dads for the day at the races, that would be a fine thing. There should be a effort to do so. Maybe just run a promotion for next year, all events, and get that started now, as we’re in holiday season and entering what looks to be a super season conclusion, sell to a fresh audience whilst it’s hot now, while we can point to it when promoting the proposition, not rely on die hards to book or look sorrowfully at their bank statements before they can think of getting a couple of kids’ tickets on spec. Spec planning is often really important to families, there should be greater flexibility for any couple taking more than two kids, simply because of all the things that can get muddled up. Everyone knows a family outing is always a bit of a hustle. You think all fresh when you’ve got five in tow, and four pairs of parents to manage also…

      3. Nuts andd double nuts, lost two posts in the browser somehow..

        Joe, I double took at your asking Jem his point. You’re usually right on the case of promoting to the next generation. My longer initial reply (pls. I tried to shorten this, but I think it’s more coherent in this version) was about the fun that is suggesting to take friends’ kids to the race, and with closing price parity to adult tickets, I feel that price parity is all wrong. I’ve had kids not want to go at the last minute without their best friend, the usual possibilities of sickness, family holidays, parents work and innumerable things conspire to making it hellish to plan, and the most rewarding thing to do, if you can. I’d like to think the constraint is seats on a rental people carrier, not my credit card line. It’s been great too, as I found it surprisingly easy to persuade girlfriends to come to the race on such a trip out, as it won’t be a fan geek out. My secret weapon has been a deadpan of mine who at eighty two has energy to wear down the most energetic child even at the end of the day… he saw Rosmeyer drive as a boy, once had a feud with a past FIA chief, did all sorts of nutty things that got him in trouble, and is basically a godsend with kids, so he may have taken on much of the burden. But though I am often sad I missed the regular boat for having kids, being a part of life is important to me, and those of us who are less obligated in life have a role to play in society. Being in a mix of ages hones the mind, is plain healthier. When you’re single you’re expected to be able to afford things, even asset rich parents are cash poor often as not. And my friends’ kindnesses to me over my years preclude even the thought to ask for contributions. I think there should be some deal or maybe just extra flexibility, for anyone booking more than two child tickets.

        I don’t feel entitled, but I think I and others should be encouraged, along with every uncle, cousin, family friend, anyone who might be going and who can handle taking a brace of youngsters along ought to be cut a better deal. Particularly groups. I found five is easier to handle than two, or about a sweet spot where you can ensure pair rules and other basic kid management sensibilities. But when you add in juggling parents’ perceptions, oh, junk food, long drives, you name it, my friends are thankfully very cool, but just as concerned as any parent. And then when you start looking at the prices, as people will do, well I have been asked why I did not take them to a play, or even the cinema, or a day out walking, or.. and this is looking at next years’ prices, I was asked why not a day trip to the galleries in Paris? I dearly wish the European GP reinstated, to offer the occasional competition for home soil race outings. You get the arguments, from parents, if I am spending so much will I not enjoy it better with mates who are fans? No, I wouldn’t. It’s brilliant to share a day out with a range of ages and see the race in a different light, and be active in explaining the goings on in ways you would never at home, would not with fellow race fanatics, get to think what to yell which is not potty talk, if the action is good… It’s so much better if you can take a group of youngsters I would not consider going to a race without thinking whose kids might want to come. This should be recognized and exploited by marketers. I’d be happy just to get more ticket flexibility, but I note Becketts and other spots are full price parity with adult seating already…

        No matter how much. a race fan you are, no matter the level of enthusiasm kids have for the sport, in a group like i’d like to do, there’s no comparison at all with any sporting events, world class or not. To a certain extent you are just doing your friends a favor taking the kids off them for a day. That consideration changes how you look at it. But the value, of actual enjoyment, to this race fan at least, is personally very much higher. Nonetheless you are doing a vital promotion job for the sport’s future. By all means let the adult tickets reflect what the market will bear, but let the new generation in, with who is best able to convey the enthusiasm. How many kids will never see a race only because their parents will not indulge “themselves”? Me and my old mate may be two nutters, but isn’t that who you want attending races? In the past we’ve gotten old friends of his along, my mate has a twelve year old from a late marriage but his pals have grown up grandchildren. That makes for more capacity to take along kids, not less. Do not underestimate the spending power of adults whose kids have flown the nest or haven’t their own. A successful race day can translate into a lot of related spending very quickly… shirts and kit for birthdays for a start..

        Oh, and the ability to discuss a race thanks to the current engines, I am looking forward to very much. Past solutions have been frantic texting… that and my pal is pretty deaf and has a voice that knows no decibel below one hundred… a few have mentioned this effect gratefully, but the advantage I am sure is manifold when in a group you have to watch out for.

        1. So sorry the double post… that was a strange glitch, I did not see the usual preview, not get a double post warning because I rewrote… sorry for the redundancy, if discarding one makes sense, I think the second is the better..

  27. I think they are too expensive, along with the Stones tickets et al

    Obviously not too expensive in a real sense – or they wouldn’t sell – just too expensive for me to justify the cost of 4 tickets for he family.
    These sort of prices really do exclude lots of people, just not enough, yet.

  28. My 1st GP was Brands Hatch in 1986, general admission for the Sunday was £15 and got me into the Saturday night party in the circuit. It was an amazing atmosphere and got me hooked on F1. A year later at Silverstone it costs £30 with no party and another 3 years it was £100. Fairly steep rises, but like you say its about market forces. I now live on the West Coast of Canada, so I priced up a trip to the Montreal with my son, unfortunately the whole thing, including travel and accommodation were going to cost around £4,500. I can’t remember the F1 Grand Stand ticket price which was substantial.

    I’m not complaining because it was my decision to move 2,500 miles from any GP – what was I thinking! – but it’s been out of my reach to be able to take my kids to a GP so they can’t share my passion for it in the same way, which is a shame.

  29. No, surely you are not seriously comparing F1 to the soccer world cup final, Superbowl and Wimbledon Final???

    sorry, I’m soon to start a family but I will not take my children to a grand prix. I cant afford too. Its a shame. My father took me, my brother and mother to the Adelaide GP all those years ago and the seed was planted in us. Goodluck finding the next generation of fans when the man running the show thinks socialmedia is a fad and ticket prices a cheap.

    1. Ryan, please for heaven’s sake don’t take this the wrong way, but I winced at you saying you won’t take your kids to a race. Don’t circumscribe your earning power in a few years, either; life changes for the better. I got a kick up the arse in life just because my friends has kids and were in overdrive career work family and every way. It’s so cliché and banal to say it’s transformational, but it obviously is. Even second hand. Oh, and never forget to ask for raises 🙂

        1. What’s a average punter? One might imagine a “average punter” is someone who has dismissed the idea that anything can be of value simply because the digits on the receipt look a bit big, I think it’s a bit like comments that populate the discussion sections after reviews of new electronic toys. “they won’t get my business until they throw in the kitchen sink quantum computing processor, a petabyte of RAM and a terabit//second free mobile data connection”, to which a fair response might be “well, maybe this isn’t the product for you.”. How come people can love the racing yet accept they can’t afford to travel to every race on a private jet and while away their time in the paddock club? Amazing, how the impoverished still show such devotion… we must be suffering Stockholm Syndrome! 😅

          1. “What’s a average punter? One might imagine a “average punter” is someone who has dismissed the idea that anything can be of value simply because the digits on the receipt look a bit big” – a wild pompous assumption. Yes, “average punter” is the key term.
            Tickets represent very poor value for money these days IMHO. Will watch on TV but haven’t been to the track in years for this very reason. I’ll leave it that.

            1. I said “one might”, because one might, if there’s no idea who a average punter is. Some people are I think too reactionary as to absolute cost. I don’t think Joe originally chose the best set of ticket price comparisons, but he was not wrong to highlight just how expensive live entertainment is. I didn’t do well explaining myself there, but I was trying to point out what have to be some limits, even assuming there’s a major improvement in ticket “value”. I thought my point could stand as is, to illustrate that lowering prices or making everything included that can be, likely cannot happen. I agree there should be better value in what’s on offer, but was saying it won’t happen in a way to satisfy unrealistic punters. Whatever average punter is, I don’t know. Outside of fans, I think it’s realistic you’ll get people plain balking at just the price to attend, possibly people extrapolating from that some idea F1 is way off the scales. It’s more nuanced than that. But I think you get a huge amount of unrealistic expectations in any public, whether for tech gizmos or for a sports day out. That was my point. You didn’t explain” average punter” so I took a liberty or artistic license with what that could mean. I imagined that the average punter F1 might want to attract doesn’t have a lot of experience going to races. I don’t, no matter how much a fan I am. So does the average punter, polarized, accommodate for the experience, in other words make excuses, or do they have too high a expectation? I merely intended to pose the question of what is “average”? If you averaged between apologists and reactionaries you would actually get someone as a “average punter” who was fairly happy. Just measuring from one end of satisfaction to the other, that’s what average is going to be! Sticker or price shock is a very common reaction. My apologies, nonetheless, you misunderstand because I did not expand my argument.

            2. The average punter is someone who is going to pay a mid-price ticket. Something along the line of Club A, Luffield A or Woodcote B at Silverstone.

              The ‘average punter’ does not attend a GP from the general admission area, that’s the ‘value punter’.

        2. He was Iact Schick, back in the day. Before he had to take a simpler name at Ellis Island… //😐

      1. Joe: The man is right. You (and I) have never done the full punter experience, 450GPs or not – three days in a baking exposed grandstand, the disgusting food, the disgusting loos, etc. So when the average fan makes points about the average fan’s experience, we should listen.

        I agree that you can compare a individual F1 race with another individual – and importantly, annual – event in the same country, but not, I submit, with a World Cup or Olympics event once every four years. A good comparison would be an FA Cup final, I suggest. In terms of worldwide TV viewing, that is equally world class.

  30. Must disagree, this time. In a GP grandstand, one gets to see only a small segment of Tarmac; unlike football, and without a screen and/or third party commentary, the trackside spectator has no clue what’s going on. At a (Stones or otherwise) concert, or another performance, punters are guaranteed some entertainment. Same cannot be said of Formula One, sadly.

    My ‘local’ race is Silverstone, which is a flat airfield in the middle of nowhere interesting. Some of the races I’ve seen there were dull and rain-filled, while the venue offers nothing by way of off-track entertainment. Other circuits are more appealing, though inevitably involve flights and hotels, meaning that the cost of attending is similar to that of a half-term family holiday. Still, the grandstand-seated fan will have no clue what’s happening without screen or commentary.

    Are F1 tickets good value? I think you know my answer. Enjoy the Stones. Unless you paid a really vast fortune, you’ll n still eed a screen to see them on stage too…

  31. Ho Joe.
    I’m at Le Mans for the 24 hours.
    I’m parked up in my caravan all week in the best campsite, with electricity and decent toilets plus the usual French bars and snack-bars. With the camping, entrance and a seat in the best grandstand (with a bar, restaurant, showers and toilets) I’ve paid about 230 euros for the week.
    Sure I’m a member of the ACO and pay around 100 euros a year for that, but there are other advantages which go with that, including two exclusive trackside enclosures with restaurants and bars plus reduced prices for the Classic in July.
    Now make the comparison with, say, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Somewhere north of 700 euros will not provide all the facilities I’m enjoying, and that’s for a main race lasting about 85 minutes.
    That’s a motor racing comparison – two FIA world championships, no tennis, football or rock and roll.
    Enjoy the gig tonight. I considered doing both with the help of SNCF, but with the current strike I’m glad I didn’t.

    1. Good point. Much could be done by upping RV facilities, from helping keep overall costs down, to trying to replicate the adored atmosphere at la Sarthe .. might have to bang heads of hotelier lobbies, against real local tax and revenue data and a balance with civic concerns such as reducing traffic. Make the facilities good, provide over and above, tons of things could work, but the main thing is to let it build up sensibly, don’t gouge concessionaires, lay on good communal design, maybe a cinema screen for the weekend… Treat it as if you wee running a festival, not a car park. Encourage a distinct experience. Actually market it. Make sure someone does fly-drives in a package deal. Having a rested or happily unrested crows on site adds to overall atmosphere. The more people buzzing and not traipsing to their hotels to find they have to look up the word “service” in a dictionary, or sign away their first born to get a room in the first place.. I reckon there’s easy gains to be had here.

  32. Interesting how times (and French attitudes) have changed — I remember turning up to a Stones concert at Lyon’s Palais des Sports on spec in the mid-1970s and easily getting a good ticket at face value (was it 50ish francs?) outside. Enjoy the gig, Joe, and thanks again for all your knowledgeable good sense.

  33. Joe, I must agree with the many posters here who think your comparison is apples to oranges. Your criteria of “world class” doesn’t work. My proof is as follows. Last year I attended The Masters at Spruce Meadows in Calgary. It’s the largest, richest annual showjumping event in the world. Spruce Meadows is the Monaco of the equestrian universe, it is showjumping’s biggest (9 jumping rings), most elaborate, most storied venue. Like F1, Spruce Meadows is owned by a billionaire. Like F1, The Masters is sponsored by Rolex. Like F1, the organizers hire a 747 freighter to fly the horses in from Europe for the weekend. Like F1, the event is televised worldwide. Like F1, there were celebrities galore (Bruce Springsteen and Bill Gates, for example). The prize money on offer was $1 million / day for each of two days. The first day featured a Nations Cup class with 12 countries represented. The feature jumping class on Sunday featured riders from over 20 countries. As I’m sure you know, showjumping is an Olympic sport. The stadium was filled to capacity (approx 81,000).

    Using the above criteria, this event is indisputably “world class”. Cost for my seat? $10 CAD for the entire weekend. In addition, about 10,000 fans are admitted for free on the day to sit on the lawn, which is one of the best places to watch.

    THAT’s how to promote a sport.

    1. I do think to a certain extent that Joe responds here just as he would with any of the paddock guys and gals, in a kind of shorthand of laconicism and points du mode that are meant to be read not as you read but heard as you would hear. Imagine you were mid flight in talk and what you need is to say the most in the least words. Ha dearie me that almost ought to make who suffers my comments giggle. Bit imagine Joe’s comments as I do, as part of a conversation that’s happening, not as a exposition of raw informational prowess, imagine they just tell you enough, and in normal talk between people who are confident in their ways, you fill in the rest. Occasionally, I get. a bit nonplussed, but I’d rather feel part of a active conversation. I think Joe’s trended to this style a bit, but it’s less a style than just saying his piece, and as such a fresh open discourse. You might have to figure out just a little, but it’s clearly not meant as dismissal or flippancy. It’s a good thing, when a native presumes you are fluent…

      1. I think I appended my comment in the wrong spot. It was meant to follow one of Joel one liners. But I think my blurt is fine, given that bit of context.

  34. I stopped going to G.p’s when Stowe seats went up to a £15! However, if tickets were too expensive,people wouldn’t buy them. They are so,they must be the acceptable going rate. Common sense says that if they were too pricey then they wouldn’t sell. If they are too pricey, don’t buy them. Simples!

  35. I won’t enter the debate on Joe is right or wrong, just throw in some ticket prices as examples of real costs. Canada last week – stand 1 right opposite the pits – the most expensive non-hospitality stand – $C560 for three days. Cost of hotel for the four nights I needed to suit my flights – around $C1500 and it wasn’t the Ritz. The hotel to me is the challenging cost item.

    Austin this year ticket in stand 12 will be $735 including my $100 share of parking. Staying with friends, so accommodation not an issue.

    I’m more peeved about the poor information about what’s going on from the big screen (I could see it fine) and from the commentary. Showing only the first 12 positions all the way through qualifying is not helpful – who is on the bubble, which cars are at risk? No way to tell. It could be so much more informative and engaging if FOM or whomever actually gave consideration to the needs of the fans. Come back FanVision, all is forgiven. Oh, that’s right, Bernie doesn’t like them.

    1. Why we cannot get a big network equipment vendor to sponsor streaming to mobiles in some fashion is beyond me. There are really big technical challenges involved, and with 4g mobile there is such a high expectation of service which simply cannot be delivered by currently deployed base stations under the kind of strain that a race crowd and density would demand. Even on sites which attract a very articulate and knowledgeable crowd, like Arstechnica, I read only today a handful of comments expecting mobile access to 4K video. That is truly unlikely in the near future. I understand that the backhaul for most cell stations is in the region of hundreds of megabits, not megabytes per second, and 4K wants 16MB/s or so… not that you get much benefit of such high resolution even at tablet viewing distances… consider it’s eight times the resolution of many digital projections in theaters where nobody feels the quality is diminished.. the Star Wars prequel were shot in primary 1080p AFAIK. Quality is not always defined by the numbers, and always limited by our eyesight and perceptual factors.

      It would I think be a real challenge, to stream to a whole race day audience.

      I forget who, sorry, who said that Bernie seems to have swotted up on television tech in the nineties, and given up thereafter. That comment I think was right on the money. As was who above argued the lack of incentive to do other than collect existing revenue streams. I’ll add to that, that if a big stake sale is imminent, investment might be slowed because a new owner would want to make their own mark. Also some technology is only now unarguably mainstream and some technical economies might be turning to buyer’s advantage.

      Well, surely, a big sponsor is money that comes right in to the sport. Can anyone who knows better say whether the track promoters would be able to demand a bigger cut of this? Could that be a reason to hold up a effort?

      Samsung is so obvious a could be sponsor, with some four billion in annual budget. But Huawei make a big proportion of the infrastructure that is relevant, and need marketing to overcome cultural prejudice, and eye the consumer market constantly.

      The thing is, I cannot explain why such a high tech sport is not able to get ahead of other motor sports for coverage. What the other series are doing is great, but not technically jaw dropping. Just keeping up with the times.

      However the numbers would be pretty big. Say one hundred thousand streams at two megabits per second to deliver solid high def. If a cell tower in a city really only is providing backhaul of hundreds of megabits, this is pure equipment testing territory. But there must be one company prepared to take on the effort, and some risk if things glitch, to try to deliver. I think also if you can overcome technical hurdles, you want to provide a richer service if possible to ticket holders. Ideally i’d want things like replay access when you get home, even if you don’t have the pay TV package. So much really needs to be done with the whole broadcast structure. It’s ridiculous YouTube clips being swatted down so long after the debate is over and done with that access to media and music helps sell more. Though that debate is spoiled because of the unfair royalties division for artists, another topic.

      What’s the least that can be done that is doable, and would make a difference, for trackside streaming, is what I want to know. It is not without the spirit of things F1, to have a work in progress and trial things. It is plain awful to let the situation stagnate and leave fans without a clues what’s going on, literally at the races.

    2. My friend recently attended the Le Mans Moto GP. €75 for 4 nights camping and general admission over all the build up and race day.

      A world class event fairly priced in my opinion. You only have to look at the crowds.

      I’m sorry Joe but comparing F1 to niche events (by fan base) is not cricket. F1 is expensive full stop.

        1. I think lemans is by far the best comparison, world class sporting event of similar scale and prestige, think that is check mate, he used your own argument against you.

          On a side note, it wasn’t that long ago if you couldn’t afford to watch the racing, you cloud at least watch the testing.

  36. A suggestion 🙂

    Dear valued readers,

    Seeing as all but one of the many comments I have received disagree vehemently with my views above, and seeing as you lot love F1 way more than an average punter does (so should actually be extra-sympathetic to my hypothesis if I were right)… maybe I just got it a bit wrong?

    So sue me.

    I was spending a splendid afternoon in the sun on my laptop and noticed that there are some outrageous prices for world class events beyond F1.

    Clearly F1 is expensive but so is everything else.

    Much love,

    Joe Saward

      1. If you “don’t think it is wrong” Joe, please explain how hiking child GA tickets up so much over the past 15 years is going to help with getting kids into F1, something you’ve continually claimed that F1 must deal with to ensure a fanbase for the future.

        1. Did I write about kid’s prices? No. I wrote about prices for normal tickets. I believe that kids should get in for a token amount of money

          1.  Whatever happens to the ownership of the sport… I’m starting to not only hate saying ownership as a word, and I think it’s becoming a untenable idea, know it’s commercial rights holder, and all that, but I get a twitch, a feeling, that anything close to ownership is going to get a shock soon… okay whatever happens to F1, we need someone to feel they can think beyond the next ten years. Enough time today’s ten year olds will take to get a job and become the next gen of fans.

             I think this chimes with my thought the other day that thirty years is long enough for any deal. Literally treat it as a generation game, out with the old, market like the blazes to the new kids. Have a definable end to whatever the next era will be. Make whoever “owns” things work to a definite goal. Let whoever has that thirty year deal profit from beating expectations, let them earn out a bonus as generous as can be stomached, but for growing the whole sport, not for extracting rents from die hard fans. If whoever takes over is all cozy earning plenty return from the get go, I think that will prove things have been done wrong. I’m certain there will be a effective change of ownership, a new regime, next year.

             Everyone should be doing all they can to make sure the new “boss” has to truly earn their keep at least initially. I’m not at all against the next incumbent making out like a bandit, not at all, they should do bloody well. If they cannot do great out of F1, their fault, nobody else to blame. But no immediate sinecure, too much needs the cash and the cash is needed for work on every aspect. Time to spend on things of value. Let’s start by getting out to every ten year old we can.

             It need not even be a year in, year out, long term saturation plan. When I was a boy, like most of my friends, I went through phases of interest. When you’re a kid, you just do obsess, do move from one thing to the next, you’re training your brain, which is why new cool things are so all involving, and boys with obsessions interminable for their parents. What I mean is it doesn’t matter to pitch F1 to the same kids every year. All you have to do is implant the idea.

             I got a rather timid inquiry a few weeks back, could he watch F1 on my Sky Go login? That came after a year long hiatus during which any number of other things absorbed my pal’s son. I got a bit of resistance from mum, but won easily with the idea that if he was watching sky on his laptop, regardless if he was not watching F1, all the less likely he was not watching porno. I said that as a joke, but realized suddenly it’s a real concern, when it trumped the argument neatly. Not enough is said about how healthy F1 is for a young mind. We may lament days before the PR ghosts spirited away character styles we loved in racers, but having lost that era, why not use it for argument on behalf of F1, when that argument counts? I’m just remembering when I lost for a while my interest in computers, for all of about a year, and was opening the magazines I’d not finished reading, and had my first sense of passing time in my life, oh, it felt like so long ago, already, since I “knew” about computers!

  37. I wonder if the kids that they’re trying to attract will prefer watching F1 cars for 2hrs or spend a week in Disneyworld?

    1. I want to do both!

        Actually, I want to visit Disneyland and there be a circuit there recreating every best turn and straightaway, designed by the best of who does Disney things and not a few from who transformed Vegas, and have a week of racing from LMP to the electric series to junior series, all running up to the F1 race. I want it to be ridiculous because we can. At least very smart people can create such attractions.

       I want a Disneyland for racing. Some new facilities are superb, wonderful, but they are still designed as if just updated upgraded racetracks of old. I mean the focus is too narrow, and the attempts, cough, Ferrari World, splutter super yacht mooring along the back straits, don’t gel into a appeal for a family for enough time. It is possible to imagine that someone could be bold enough to do this. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is to do, there’s proof you can make wonderful money at doing ridiculous things. Because you can. That’s the only argument that should count: because you can. Give me somewhere to indulge a week of racing where everyone from my mom to my friends’ kids will struggle to not be overwhelmed, forget being bored, and I’ll join the queue. There would really be a queue.

       Sometimes you have to refine what people will want, in the Steve Jobs mode of customers never knowing they wanted to plug their ears and listen to rock music loudly, until Akio Morita apparently wanted to listen to opera on long haul flights, but often the best thing to do is to design what you really want the most, indulge your an fanaticism and desire, because design flows from the energy of desire. Let someone indulge in their best dreams, forget the whole municipal planning straightjacket that racetracks have been held to, simply because they have required local government subsidy or permission or been beholden however historically to local race clubs. Bust free of that.

       This is why I mentioned you might want to interview Steve Wynn, among people to ask about The Trouble With F1. If you just make F1 adhere to universally understandable tenets of modern life enjoying itself recreationally, I think you’re more than half way to financial success. Only, be honest it is indulgence. People will pay more for indulgence than they will for any sense of being at a historic events or, oh, I feel like I better not say those two words that sparked so much debate about what to compare a race with… it shouldn’t be compared at all… but why compare if you can do more than one thing at the same time?

       There’s a more serious side to this, which is if you put F1 into the same bracket of perception as spending on a ticket to Cirque de Soleil (another brilliant show which is serious money to see, involves traveling and accommodation) you eliminate the barrier of perception. If you are indulging yourself, you don’t begrudge the budgets involved. Put enough things together, I reckon you could throw away so many worries raised here, just forget them. Honest, sincere, unabashed, good old fashioned enjoying oneself. Only to do so, you need to build something.

       Single design parameter: be crazy and make sure nobody can ever walk away unimpressed, even if they are PJ O’Rourke doing a take on the fake Venice in the desert:

  38. Hi Joe, I been attending GP’s since the 80’s , The race weekend experience clearly involves more cost than the grandstand seat for most who do not live in the same city, Min $1000 CND per guy in Montreal driving from Toronto sharing an ordinary room,

    I would have bought my kids along sooner if it was justifiable as they know its been my sport for so long, My son has joined me over the last few events and loves it , He would be the exception base on your recent blog about getting young folk interested! Indianapolis had a smart ideas $25 on Friday any grandstand you find a spot, lots of young new fans took advantge of it, Austin may have a few customers now from that smart move, I saw a cap purchased for $70.00 on Sunday because the vender is paying so much for his space at the track, The world has gone giddy,

    I will still go to race’s from time to time, What ever anyone say’s for my $1000 I want the pure sound back, Seeing a GP driver hustling a car late braking in a corner during qualifying with the sound now the RED MIST is gone ! and it looks less urgent! I hope Joe that Jagger’s sound man does not let you down at the concert.

    Cheers George

  39. Too many flaws in this argument Joe, the comparisons don’t add up..
    Austin for GA is a very good deal, because we would not pay those silly prices for our race ..
    Having said that I could never afford Grand Stand reserved seating..

        1. Why not? I’ve paid for hundreds of hotels and flights. The only difference is I don’t pay for access, but I know what it costs…

          1. Because you don’t have anything like the race experience of ordinary fans. You have a pass that gives you access to most places, you know the drivers and the other people who comprise the teams, you follow the race from the media center, and you earn your living from it.

            You’ve earned every bit of what you have (and likely deserve more, IMO), but let’s not equate what it’s like for you with what it’s like for others.

            Sincere question: How much would it cost a fan to have the kind of race weekend experience you have? Can it be bought? If so, how many thousands would it take? (I truly don’t know the answer.)

            1. It is not possible for fans to buy the access to the paddock, unless they are important sponsors. But this is not related to the question of whether F1 tickets are priced correctly. If people buy them, then they are priced correctly. If people don’t buy them, they are not. It is simple supply and demand.

              1. Joe, I think it’s far from the answer to point to sales of tickets. If it were possible to price them higher and sell out, would that do for people what everyone seems to glamour for, to stop feeling second rate somehow, for whatever reason?

                Disney has their 33 Club, for which there’s estimates of waiting lists of decades and inheritable memberships and entry memberships in tens of thousands of pounds per person or year. But nobody begrudges Disneyland they have a exclusive club, because they don’t make anyone feel second class. Do you think it cannot be done, to just start working up the goodwill that’s needed to create similar impressions?

                I think paddock access is not the key relationship either, but it is about understanding human nature. If people feel left out, they will take away a poor impression. We are hierarchical creatures, we like exclusivity and paying for something better. The way things are so Us and Them, even when they are not, is too powerful a problem to ignore. Do you think there would be so many comments here telling you you’re plain wrong, unless there was a serious feeling of divide?

                Your arguments are not wrong, per se, they just seem to be trapped between one view where they may be seen as misjudged and another where they are being responded to in ways which miss your point.

                In a way, your article, when you bring in all this context, doesn’t highlight a symptom but rather is a symptom of a malaise. Let’s not fall into that trap. Who is up for starting from scratch to think what we could sell now, to a much larger audience than is presently attached to F1?

                What do we say about or do for those who feel poor value, and could become race goers if things were simply bettered. What do we do about a much larger public who might enjoy a race in a very different setting, but are not presently even remotely attracted to a race?

                I think there has to be a new thinking about the upper bounds of capacity and facilities for a real general audience, in mind of what people will pay for entertainment in general. That upper bound you are very right to call out as being much higher. But that extra money has to be captured. So how?

                If you had just one venue a year where you would get three important series races and a Disney like experience surrounding with enough variety you could stay a week, would that not explore a entire new market? I think in this aspect the thinking is far too bounded. It’s not just if tickets sell, supply and demand, all cut and dried. This thing is exciting enough the hype goes to waste and isn’t being recycled from the exhaust.

            2. In Monaco, I was on the Red Bull Energy station from Thursday, enjoyed yacht parties including Mallya’s on Thursday night until 5am. Had a lovely lunch at a beach in Cap Ferrat on Friday, met some celebs, more importantly met some important business contacts on saturday and flew home on saturday night. It cost me £149 for the return flight. I stayed with a friend in Nice, and gained access to Red Bull through contacts and connections. I paid for some food on Friday night too – about £40 – and that’s about it. Most days I got a lift into Monaco with someone who had the right parking access. So all in, it cost me about £200 for 4 days at the Monaco GP for a package which I know is retailed somewhere in the region of £45,000. For Red Bull, read paddock at other races.

          2. Yes but since you make a living out of F1 these are probably necessary business expenses for you ….. Its pretty different for a fan who has to shell out silly amounts to see a F1 race with sub standard facilities.

          3. which you claim back as a business expense to offset against tax one would assume..?

            give it up Joe, these are your own adoring fans who generally hang on your every word who are beating you upside the head.

            Argue your point by all means , be rude if you can’t but either way you may not agree but you’ve lost this one.

            As I said before Bernie made this an elitist sport by driving up costs to appeal to the in crowd rather than the real fans.

            F1 has been hoisted by it’s own petard and it’s a long way down.

            1. Firstly, I have an opinion and I am allowed to express it on my own blog. Just because you don’t agree does not make me wrong. Secondly, I allow almost all comments unless they are rude or disrespectful; thirdly, if you have so little faith in F1 as a whole why are you even bothering to comment? Fans who love F1 save up and make it happen once a year (or whatever). It is nothing to do with in crowds.

            1. If you paid what I pay each year, your whining would be heard in outer space. Yes I earn too, but most fans have a completely unrealistic idea of the life of F1 journalists in all respects, but certainly when it comes to earnings.

          4. Hi Joe, Obviously you have to pay for hotels ( hire cars! ) etc, but you get paid out of going to races, so it’s different to the average punter who just pays out to go, and has no financial return to offset their tickets etc against.
            I’ve spent over a decade following the FIA WRC, where the recently retired top driver has 9 WCD titles, more than even Schuey, so it is a World Class series. I’ve spoken to World Champions, other top drivers, in Parc Ferme, and at Stage side. I’ve had 4 days of action from Practice to Finale, and I’ve only ever paid for flights/hire car/hotel/food & drink, except once in Wales Rally GB where we paid £30 for 3 of us to enter a stage, needless to say, we didn’t do GB again. Oh, and in Germany once we paid 2 euros to park in a field.I’ve seen rallies in GB,Italy,France Germany,Finland,MC,Sweden, and Spain, where we worked out that our 4 star hotel B&B was just £22 per night for 2 of us.

  40. You say “The aim of every promoter is to make as much money as possible and so it is important to find the right price point at which the stands are filled with people who were willing to pay what was requested. The fact that ticket prices are high shows that the sport is popular.”

    Well in many cases the “price point” must not be as “right” as the promoter thinks because we’re seeing a lot of empty seats these days. Too many for my eyes. And I’m not talking about “exotic” GPs but about long standing ones which traditionally were a sold-out (at least the grandstands). Even Monaco had empty seats at some sessions. Something unbelievable few years ago. So, either the greed of the promoters has gone up or the public is not “willing to pay what is requested”, regardless of the reasons. These reasons -as you certainly know- can be either related to the quality of the show on offer or simply because the public is shifting his perception on how to spend its money. Or, that money is scarce among the traditionally spectators.

  41. Enjoy the Stones Joe!

    I saw them in Lisbon 2 weeks ago and they were brilliant. They played a high energy set, well over 90 minutes. A good mix of a few new songs but mainly the classics.

    Great banter with the crowd, Mick joking about England meeting Portugal in the World Cup final. Keith trotting out what I assume is a well worn but amusing gag “thank you Lisbon it’s great to be here……I’m just happy to be anywhere”. Icing on the cake was a cameo appearance by Bruce Springsteen who apparently happened to be in town and was invited up to do a number with them.

    Before I went someone someone told me that they had started to lose it (Jagger’s a great-grandfather now and all that). Absolute hogwash. They were amazing. Have a great evening Joe!!

  42. If F1 tickets were “too expensive”, then too few customers would purchase said tickets, the promoters would experience cash flow shortfalls as a result, they’d therefore go bankrupt, thus enabling them to cancel their agreements with FOM, which would starve FOM and the F1 teams of revenues, which would cause FOM to default on their massive debts, i.e. bankrupt, and the teams to go out of business, either due to their debts or simply operating cash flow shortfalls.

    Since none of these events have occurred, then one cannot argue that F1 tickets are “too expensive”, as that argument is simply a forecast or speculation rather than “fact”. One can only argue that F1 tickets are “too expensive” for themselves, their family, or their “blokes” based on anecdotal analysis.

    1. Observing trends can predict the success or failure of a business. This is what the discussion is about. There is a real problem with the economics of F1 and readers of this blog like to think about the future of F1. I think none of us want F1 to disappear because of gross mismanagement.

    2. A similar argument is made for football but a preying on peoples emotional attachment which negates the not too expensive argument.

      As regards the other side, 2 teams have just dropped out of the league due to financial difficulties, Reading FC were close to the administrators and only a bridging loan got them to the stage whereby they have been bought out last night. Others go bust and others will follow. Bolton owe 160m apparently

      Only TV revenue is propping up football

      Same with several F1 teams. Joe has been very quiet on this subject lately but we all know at least 4 are close to closing down unless additional funding is found.

  43. I’ve found it cheaper & definately better value to drive to spa for F1 than do Silverstone. Spa offers great viewing & a 3 day ticket is not much more than £100, excellent value especially 3 hrs of F1 on a Friday. Oh & a pit lane walk thrown in on Thursday to anyone with a 3 day ticket.

  44. I went to Monteal for P3 and qualifying on Saturday and the cost was $71.10 for general admission. I didn’t want to spend the money for race day there because the viewing for GA or seats are not that good (I have been there on other occasions and paid $475.00 for the three days) I also go to the Indy 500 annually and my seats for race day in turn 1 have just increased to $110.00 from $80.00 two years ago ( they have stated that they are upgrading the facilities at the track and that is the reason for the upgrade). General Admission for race day at the Indy 500 is $40.00.
    My seats at Austin this year are $675.00 which have increased form $575.00 last year.
    Not complaining just stating facts.
    Actually I can’t wait for Austin, it is a fantastic facility and all seating areas are great to watch the race because you can see a lot of the track.

  45. Formula 1 is a business, therefore the ticket prices should be optimised to ensure that profit is maximised. I must say that I think the prices are a bit steep, but if the stands are being filled then the pricing is right. If there are empty stands, then they should reduce the price accordingly. Same applies to practice or qualifying. This is just simple economics, not rocket science….

  46. Perhaps when people are saying that the price is too high, they are really complaining about the perceived value of what is on offer.

    With most of the sporting events that you mention, you will not know the probable outcome. With F1, it is more like knowing that the Rolling Stones will play Brown Sugar and the Vienna concert will end with the Radetzky March.

    Knowing Mercedes or Red Bull will take the honours is not good. Paying through the nose to camp in a field in Northamptonshire is simply taking the Pee.

  47. Empty grand stands would be a sign that prices are to high, and I think this is case at some of the races, although probably not at Monaco or Silverstone, but maybe at Hockenheim, for example?

        1. those are races with visibly empty stands. maybe not Spain so much but I did see large parts of grandstands on TV with very low occupancy.

          1. This is true, if one looks carefully, there are many empty seats at GP’s and not all of them have been paid for by people who are just going to the toilet and temporarily not sat in them as Joe suggested!!

              1. Surely on a milk carton? A school pal of mine was once, a divorce lawyer went a bit crazy and overlooked on purpose to check if my friend was with his mom in London…

  48. I’ve been to a few GP’s and although I enjoyed the experience I don’t think they were good value for money. Since going to the Goodwood Revival (which I would also consider a world class event and this year is £65) I will not go to another GP. The overall experience of Goodwood is way beyond an F1 event. Last year after a full day of watching tremendous racing I watched the trophies being given out and waiters gave everyone standing on the track a glass of champagne and a slice of cake! God Bless Lord March. I’ll be there again this year

    1. Ironically the growing consensus is that Goodwood is becoming a victim of it’s own success and following the commercialism route which has blighted F1 of the modern era.

      You’re right though it’s still way better event than F1 could ever hope to be.

  49. Joe, when you see a criticism of F1 as valid, you’re wonderful… but, I swear to God, when you decide otherwise you’re just as deaf as Bernie… posters here have made valid points but you just blow them off… IMO, you’re just convincing yourself and (sadly) twisting the story to do so.

    Example: the cost of doubling crowd carries involves extra expense… true, but you conveniently ignore the extra benefit of twice the people paying gourmet prices for lousy food and designer prices for machine-printed t-shirts.

    Example: using the phrase “world class” to justify comparing F1 ticket prices to the most expensive of other entertainment and sporting events while conveniently ignoring the many “world class” events that are quite reasonably priced.

    If you have a fair point, then you don’t have to use tricks like this. As you well know, fair consideration involves looking at both sides, not just one.

    As for the idea that “most” F1 events are sold out: Why do so many people supposedly buy these tickets but not bother to show up? Or should I not believe my lying eyes?

    If they all do attend, where do they get the camouflage that cleverly disguises them as empty seats?

    1. Re: my last question… if they can afford the dang ticket prices, then they likely can afford the price of a Romulan cloaking device…

      1. Of course you are.

        Plus, you are way better than anybody at publishing opinions that differ from your own.

        Plus, you put up with a lot of crap that I wouldn’t take.

        Even so, I sometimes want to grab your shoulders and give you a little shake (respectfully, of course) 😉

    2. large chunks of the best seats are reserved for corporate sponsors, or purchased by companies for the leisure of their executives. sometimes the people just don’t show up.

      1. At the Chinese race there were huge sweeps of grandstands covered with tarps to disguise the empty seats; not just a few, but grandstand after grandstand. I started watching the seats as the cameras followed the cars around – there was LOTS of extra capacity. I posted a comment here after the race and Joe responded that the race was sold out – but it demonstrably wasn’t. I suspect F1 is not a popular sport in China, but with the government providing the dosh…….. I’ve observed similar situations at other tracks. A lot of races are sold out but certainly not all.

        If F1 held a race and no one showed up would FOM care? I suspect not, as long as the fees were paid.

        1. It considered to be poor PR if a “world class” event doesn’t sell out
          Hence they always do, sometimes they try and out do each other with just how fast they can sell out.
          How you actually define sold out is another matter entirely as failing to sell out devalues the product.
          It’s one of your favourite tricks Joe smoke and mirrors 🙂

        2. Chinese GP 2008. A few hours before the green lights (or red lights go off.. what a ridiculous idea..) and there was at least 20,000 chinese school kids walked into the venue to fill the empty seats, all in the same uniform. Those seats that are covered with the plastic film have been like that for years ! A boring race at a dull, lifeless half empty venue.

    3. Actually I see the disagreements as more interesting than either you put it, RShack, or how Joe replies. I grasp the problem this way: there’s a bunch of intractable issues, and they all too easily polarize opinion, and there is a twist required to get inside either train of thought, and figure out the differences that are in common. Thought that may be my opinion, being permitted on not my blog…

  50. No disagreement about it being world class, or not equivalent to the events you mentioned. BUT if you want to get a new fan base, you need to draw the kids in young…. read that on an F1 blog somewhere 🙂 Live F1is amazing but if families are priced out how do you get that thrill? Because it is a fragmented income stream for F1 and circuit s are charged so much to host the events they only get to keep the gate money and have to charge, but when nobody watches the tv coverage and the fans grow to old to go to circuits, where will F1 be then? So the issue isn’t all about comparative pricing but the long term future as well.

  51. I had really great seats at the Indy 500 this year ($95 US) and it was a blast. I love going to Grand Prix races, but as a spectator, you are often left in the dark as to what is going on. The Kangaroo TV – now Fanvision – did a great job of letting us hear BBC commentary and keeping up with the drama.

    Thinking of going to Austin this year, but I honestly think that I’ll have a better (and cheaper) experience at home.

    Speaking of Fanvision, Joe – What do you use to keep up with the action at the track? How do you keep track of radio/stats/etc without chaining yourself to the media centre?

    1. Every F1 journalist with any sort of deadline has been chained to the media centre for decades. The days of watching most of the race at Tarzan, lapcharting on a notepad until wandering back to the Zandvoort media centre, as I used to, are as long gone as F1 at Zandvoort … ditto watching the start from inside the first corner at (the old) Kyalami, etc, etc …

      1. I always thought one of the arts of telling a story, even as a pure story teller, is to know how to hold a reader through the bits which are unknown… maybe now there’s no excuse to be missing anything, some of the style we used to appreciate, born out of necessity, is missing just by dint of lack of need. Thinking how Murray Walker’s commentary was shaped by having to dub his commentary from already edited footage, sent by satellite to be with him, before it was all live.. and even live he could not see all the action, hence Murrayisms. My point, almost the inverse compliment of yours: maybe better writing could be evinced from less absolute attention, and maybe more being at Kyalami’s turn one…

  52. Yes, i think the tickets are too expensive for the show F1 provides. If i wanted to take the family of 4 to watch my home race (silverstone), i would not get much change from £800 pounds to stand on a grass bank, far away from the drivers, teams etc.
    Sometimes you have to move away to see the bigger picture. F1 is too expensive, too far removed for normal fans.
    I used to go every year, but did not think it was value for money, Goodwood fos now gets my money, no racing i know, but at least i can get close to the cars and drivers.

  53. Complex subject that everyone seems to think can be reduced to some simplistic view.
    For starters Joe, would you buy a ticket for a GP if you were a “punter” ?
    You would certainly buy a Stones ticket to be entertained, so where would you cross the line for a GP?
    The problem are the number of people feeding at the F1 trough. Is it any different for rock concerts? Obviously not, but rock promotors dont seem to be so badly organised as to need to charge so much. Is there a rock and roll CVC?
    The Bernie/CVC business model ensures that promotors have to charge a certain, large, amount to recover what Bernie/CVC takes away, Would it be any cheaper to attend if there were only pay-per-view?
    I dont know the answer, but if you were prepaired to pay to see the Stones, and be entertained, then your answer to “would you pay to see a GP is quite important!”
    I was prepaired to pay to see your Melbourne talk, I had a credential for the GP, yet I choose to stay at home and watch it on the box. So where does that leave us? The smell of the crowd, the roar of the grease paint!
    Party on!

    1. ‘For starters Joe, would you buy a ticket for a GP if you were a “punter” ?
      You would certainly buy a Stones ticket to be entertained, so where would you cross the line for a GP?’

      Good point. This year, I took the other half to her first F1 race. We were in Aus to see her family, so thought we may as well go to the GP too.. ‘Oh, isn’t that fortunate timing !’ etc 😉
      Anyway, in her opinion, saturday was much more exciting than the sunday and I have to agree. The race was pretty dull, we were on the last corner by the pit entry. The only excitement we saw was on one of the williams or caterhams limp past us with a puncture and wiggle across the grass before limping into the pits. The big screen across from us was too small to see clearly. I didn’t even realise Kobayashi had gone off at turn one until after the race. It was a fairly boring experience. That said, the location and relative ease of getting to and from the track, was great.

      Saturday however, was much better, watching from the GA area half way round by turn 8 or 10 (I think), the rain half way through really spiced up the hour long session. But even that was dampened by the fact that you were watching cars so far away from the viewing mound through thick fencing, that it really did take away some of the ‘special-ness’ of it. I agree with her that we would probably not go for race day again, unless it was Spa or one of the special circuits: Monza, Monaco (but that’s crazily expensive too) et al.

  54. I mostly agree with Mr Saward. I have gasped at the $500-$600 for the 3 day passes at Montreal. But then I figure except for lunch, there is always action on the track…F1, GT3, Historic F1, Ferrari Challenge. If you break that down to 20, it’s about $30 an hour.
    Meanwhile here in New York, the NHL Rangers are in the Stanley Cup final (best 4 out of 7) for the first time in 20 years. The Rangers are sort like the Grateful Dead of NY sports teams…not the largest fan base but the most loyal and passionate. The listed price for the cheapest ticket in the 19,000 are was about $485 and scalpers were getting an average of $2,500 ($1,000 to $8,000) when the series began (they fell dramatically when the Rangers lost the first three games).
    Charlie Watts is a major deity.

    1. i live in NYC. 19,000 seats for a city of 8 million and almost 400,000 resident millionaires. $2500 is nothing to them to sit in an air-conditioned arena, with plenty of food and bathrooms, not to mention action that never leaves your line of sight, and of course, the perks of NYC with its culture, nightlife and restaurants.

  55. Yes they are world class events. I have followed and attended many since the 1950’s. Each era has its on attractions and blemishes but all are worthy of the term. The distinction ca be in the effort the promoter places on attending to the paying customer. Some have it down and others mail in the answers.

  56. While reading the comments I thought I had read the “Shoot the Messenger” blog entry. 😉

  57. They are expensive in the face of other motorsport options: Le Mans, MotoGp, Indy, Nascar, V8s etc
    Other motorsport also gives you a taste of just how good a trackside view (And spectator car/pit/driver access) can be (Best tracks I’ve ever been to for spectating are Philip Island and Valencia – Ricardo Tormo- you can see 2/3rds of the track from most corners ), so if you’re not getting the same standard at an expensive F1 track (Abu Dhabi), you are not getting good value.

    I’m almost ok with a $550 grandstand seat (At Melbourne) if there is 4 days worth of entertainment, but the level of support races varies greatly at different tracks, and we may even get less F1 running next year as well
    If it was only 4 sessions of F1 and no support races if definitely wouldn’t be worthwhile.

    There is also competition from accommodation and ticket prices at other tracks.
    I know people who don’t go to the bikes in Philip Island when they live 1 hour away, they find it cheaper to fly to Malaysia and watch them at Sepang, and I wonder if the same would be true for the F1, its a very expensive weekend when you add in food, drinks and accommodation to the expensive ticket.

    You’re also not guaranteed a great race, whereas a boring Tennis final or rock concert should be pretty rare, which can help justify the price.
    You could pay your hard earned and watch a Canada like last week, or you could pay for the snooze fest of Barcelona, or a procession led by Mercedes.
    After each race you may have a very different view of whether the ticket was worth the cost.

  58. Le Mans 24hr general admission is 73EU for the week. Now that’s world class value for a world class race compared to Silverstone F1 but then I don’t suppose the ACO have Bernie ripping them off!

      1. So do most F1 tracks, if they cant fit a generous amount of spectating facilities around 5.8km of track space then they are doing it wrong.

        1. It is not always that simple. There are physical obstacles etc. The key point is that places like Le Mans and Indianapolis can charge less because they have a greater number of seats/viewing areas. I have found Le Mans to be a comfortable experience, finding good accommodation was a real problem. I’ve not been for a long time and it has obviously improved.

          1. You should give it another go. Facilities have much improved over the last 15 years – they have added things like loos and showers. I don’t suspect there is much more grandstand seat at Le Mans v Silverstone as probably 3/4 of the circuit is not accessible to the public.

  59. I’m sorry but I rarely post on here, however I read the blog a hell of a lot and love your work Joe, but you are wrong with this.

    The World Cup happens every 4 years. Wimbledon (like most other sports) is a knockout event and happens once per year with 2 finalists who have won to get there.

    For me, F1 is the best sport in the world, but the prices are ridiculous. You often make posts about the money in F1 – maybe some of it (as you have stated) should go to the promoters so then can have sensible ticket prices!

      1. Of course it not wrong for you, because it your opinion for heavens sake..
        You entire blog is your opinion otherwise you would not be writing it !
        It does not mean that now and then we are not allowed to disagree with you does it !
        Why do I not attend an your addience with Joe in Austin ??

          1. I would love to hear and meet you in person.. I can’t afford to do both ..
            Attend the Grand Prix and attend your audience ..

  60. Just been reading these comments – I forgot the last 4 seasons were ‘World Class’ – yep world class for a bunch of Germans and a few Austrians.

    Let’s fit Andy Murrays tennis racket with KERS and Wayne Rooneys boots with a turbo

  61. This is a sterile argument. If all the seats are full, then obviously the tickets are not too expensive. If half of the seats are empty (and a whole grandstand is closed altogether), as in China, the tickets are obviously too expensive. It’s called supply and demand.

  62. Not sure how you can, in one article, criticize F1’s crassness and “sleazy Italian” Briatore while at the same time championing the high cost of F1 ticket prices.

    1. It was two different articles (fairly obviously) and the two have no connection. Sleaze is different to supply and demand. If you don’t understand that you’re reading the wrong blog

      1. Adam Smith disagrees: “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and powerful, and to despise or, at least, neglect persons of poor and mean conditions, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

        I sort of believe that it is possible to get a handle on demonstrable F1 sleaze. I just don’t believe anyone is bothered.

        1. “I just don’t believe anyone is bothered.” — That was a lousy sentence. Joe is amongst a few other journalists who care about motor sport.

  63. To compare an F1 Grand Prix to another world class motorsports event, I can get general admission to the Indy 500 for around $30. Seats in the stands range from $42 to $186, with most of the front stretch seats in the shade around $100. Those are the one day costs.

    For the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, I can get a general admission weekend pass for $169, and the grandstand seats range from $299 to $499. Other seats are available up to $1200. These are all 3 day passes – which adds to the value – but it is just too much for me.

    In both cases, I am renting an 18″ wide chunk of aluminum sandwiched in between others, able to see only part of the track, have to deal with the crowds and traffic, and then go home to watch the whole race on the DVR to catch what I missed, anyway. It’s certainly not the same as being there, obviously, but I think modern TV has impacted the experience and the cost justification.

    One ticket relative to my annual salary is justifiable as part of the costs of a once-in-a-lifetime event, and a small part of the costs of the entire event (flights, hotel, parking, car rental, dining, etc.). I couldn’t justify going to the U.S. Grand Prix every year, though. Where it really becomes difficult for me is when I want to take my family of 4. For slightly less than the cheapest grandstand seat, I can get a 4-day park pass to Disney World (which is obviously a different experience).

    So, personally, F1 tickets are too expensive (although when the U.S. Grand Prix was in Indy, the ticket prices weren’t bad at all – $120 or so, if I remember correctly, for the 3 day pass).

  64. If people are still prepared to spend money to go and promoters are still able to fill their venues then the pricing is commercially justified. At the end of the day, it is only as expensive as people are willing to pay for it. Pure supply and demand.

    But I do notice that the pricing varies considerably between races. Example: first corner tickets to the Singapore GP this year: $1288 (ouch). But the first corner stand with largely the same view at Sepang earlier in the year cost me about a third of that.

  65. This discussion made me think of how PP’s CB would have closed comments and banned half of the users for disagreeing by now regardless of how civil and thoughtful the responses. Open, democratic debate = thriving readership.

    Anyway, in 2013, 3x three-day passes cost me around $1,800 at face value for the Canadian GP. Used miles to fly and AirBnB to reserve a lovely apartment. If I had paid for airfare and stayed in a hotel, the trip would likely have cost $3,000+ per person for a three-day trip not including food. Can’t imagine taking a family (which would hamper enjoying one of the best night life cities anyway). However, Montreal really embraces F1 and since, GP or no, Montreal is one of my favorite cities to visit, the trip was worth it for me. Austin is lovely, but I could not justify similar expenditures. So, this is all extremely subjective.

  66. Joe, I appreciate your opinion.

    I agree – that F1 is “World Class” in the following: drivers and technology.

    This question comes up from time to time….. And it will be a moot question if some of the teams get priced out….. of F1 and Manufacturer(s) leave as well…..

    Is the price worth it…. It depends.


  67. I was taken by my parents to my first GP in 1964 and went with them to many more in the 60s. I really caught the bug and went to about 40 gps in the 70s, 80’s and 90s. But my visiting dried up in the late 90s as I felt the experience declined as the prices went up. Much as I love motor racing I feel that the price:value equation has altered to such a marked degree that visiting a GP is, to me, wildly overpriced. I have never considered for a moment taking my children to what I consider to be such a poor value event. The fire that my parents ignited in me has not been ignited by me in them. I hear the argument that if it’s a sell out then it isn’t overpriced but I think that this is potentially a risky belief. If perceived value is eroding then a collapse is unlikely to happen in a linear manner, it could be precipitous when the next generation has no particular desire to go.

    One other point about ‘world class events’. I love motor racing and am lukewarm about tennis. My wife is the opposite so I accompanied her to Wimbledon about 5 or 6 years ago. Quarter finals, centre court, Roger Federer playing (world class I hope we agree), lovely seats, lovely ambiance, see everything, decent catering and loos. Even the security guard checking bags on the way in was charming. A massively superior experience to the last British GP I attended. And, if I remember rightly about £70 each. We’ll take our children there.

    1. As a parent I agree with your statement: “The fire that my parents ignited in me has not been ignited by me in them”….

      i certainly have not ignited the fire in my kids. They rather go to an American Football/Basketball/Baseball game.

      I am with you on the collapse. It won’t happen in a linear manner. Probably – collapse when the next economic downturn occurs.

      However, it will still be a ‘world class event’ – probably with a group of constructor(s) – following a simpler business model/rules.

      And tickets will be cheaper……

  68. Basically it’s all supply and demand. I don’t care who will gain what from the price I pay for an event I’m attending, just as long as I get what I want.
    I like your comparison to musical events (or any other entertainment). I for one wouldn’t pay a lot to see the Stones, but would pay a small fortune for an evening with Bowie (each his own I guess). Still I consider a Stones concert ‘world class’.
    Going to F1 is simply a case of: is the price of it worth it. In case of F1, yes, but depending on your seat. In case of FIA WEC, yes, very much so (Spa, 2 days, paddock access, 3 people: 56 euro!!!). In case of the Bathurst 1000 (4 days, paddock access, 2 people, 300 euro!!!).
    I’m sure I will visit more F1 races, and I might complain about the price, but if it’s not worth it, I would not go/pay. I never understand people who state prices are ridiculous. If you don’t think it’s worth it, don’t buy it. Whether it’s a ticket to the Stones, an F1 race or a pair of socks.

  69. Wow: watching LeMans live for free… 24 hours streaming from on-board cameras and trackside, with commentary… oh, and a day pass is 45 euros…
    I think LeMans is world class motor sport, so there is an interesting comparison for you, Joe…

    1. If what you say is true then in the eyes of businessmen then they are undercharging… They could have a stronger price point.

  70. (This is my opinion and)…….”it maybe wrong for you but it is not wrong for me.”

    Interesting statement there, Joe. That’s how they taught us in nursing school to respond to confused patients!

    You have an admiring and supportive readership for your blog +/- magazine here. Looks to me like they are trying to get something through to you…

    1. Looks like a few of them are… Read other responses that agree. There are plenty of them. Why should they be ignored?

      1. A *very* few of them are… if “getting through” means agreeing with you 😉

        Most are trying to get something through, but without any evident success. It boils down to this:

        1. It’s important to the future of F1 to build a larger and younger fan base who enjoy F1 enough to help support it.

        2. High ticket prices are a major obstacle to building a larger and younger fan base who want to support F1.

        3. Therefore, high ticket prices are harmful to F1’s need for a persistant and growing supportive fanbase. Q.E.D.

        The only way it makes sense to have high ticket prices for adults but affordable ticket prices for kids is if you want to attract only the children of those who (a) presently choose to spend a pile on tickets for themselves but (b) would buy only reasonably priced tickets for their kids.

        That is a bizarely small target group to have. It won’t come close to addressing the first point. So, if you take seriously the notion that F1 needs a supportive future fanbase, I don’t see how you can see high ticket prices as anything but a problem.

        1. p.s. This is the main way that F1 differs from the Stones: 30 years from now, the Stones won’t need a young fanbase to pay too much money for concert tickets… because they’ll all be dead… (except maybe Keith who has already proven he’s hard to kill)… the Stones don’t need to factor in the future… because they can’t have one… but F1 can.

          Sadly, F1 is behaving like an aging rock star who doesn’t have to care about future fans… it’s another case of Bernie confusing his selfish interests with the legitimate interests of F1…

  71. I’ve tried to read both sides on this super blog and it is evident that there are indeed two sides even here where there will be a very high incidence of devoted F1 fans.

    I would argue that there are F1 fans who are prepared to pay the sort of prices charged and that there are those who are not. However we do not have trend data on attitudes but I would suspect that the proportion who are prepared to pay are eroding in number and those who are not are growing. A further suspicion is that F1 is not growing its youth fan base so that would be a further erosion in that it would not be attracting new fans to the degree that it could or should.

    Of course this is only an opinion but if it contains some truth it would suggest that whilst F1 can sell out out at some – certainly not all – venues its ability to do so is weakening. I suspect that F1 is on thin ice. I say that with great sadness.

  72. Just in case insufficient emphasis has been given to this point: after CVC and BE & Co. have extracted their pound of flesh in event fees and institutional income streams, it’s likely the local event promoter HAS to charge through the nose for ticket prices, and scrimp on discretionary event expenses just to get within striking distance of making some margin.

    Try this: for the last 2 years at my home event, the AGP at Albert Park, all of us in marshalling (eg. scrutineering/firies/vehicle management/flaggies etc., and I’m medical) have had to wear the one colour navy blue cap. Cheaper than making various colours for each role as in the past, you see. Not withstanding the three or four hundred of us donating 4+ days of unpaid time to the event each year.
    (- Do marshalls do that everywhere?…after 10 years I gave it a rest back in March, stayed in gainful employment for near to a week and watched it on TV. )

    Thus I’ve started to think of the event as the “Austerity GP”. But given that Bernie/FOM et al hoover up a >$50 million event fee just for Albert Park, apparently compounding annually while the AGP Corp makes a thumping loss year on year, it’s hard to see how race promoters can survive without charging eye watering ticket prices. I just hope that the sport isn’t digging it’s own grave by being beholden long term to the greed principle, as Tim Reid suggests above. Too many similarities to cancer.

  73. So, was it worth going to see the Stones?
    Have you managed to see the Moto GP races? for me they have been edge of seat entertainment and I would bet real money that their TV numbers have gone up even with the one rider domination. Those guys earn the money.

    1. The Stones were great. Real old style showmen, nice mix of music and it was a great night. Worth every penny. Even the French PM showed up!

  74. Hi Joe! I have a question. Is it possible for GA tickets to be sold out, or is it always possible to buy them on track on the race day? I’ve only been to Monza and never had problems with that. I would like to go to Austria this weekend. but I don’t know what to expect. Every site says “sold out”. It’s about 1000km drive for me, so you know…Thanks for the help!

  75. I don’t like only seeing the cars woosh by ever 1.5minute. So I’m in need of at least a big screen in front of wherever I’m sitting around the track on raceday. And then I miss the commentary. It all just gives me the impression no once cares whether I’m there or not. Attending ANY other world class event that implies sitting around a field (tennis, soccer, football,…) and seeing ALL of the action the entire time just gives a much better experience. I’m sorry but I feel it’s close to impossible to thoroughly follow the actual race when not in front of the tv.

    F1 at Spa is “wow!” for 20 sec. and then you have to go asleep for 1 minute. Then you can “wow!” again for another 20 sec. There’s no flow for the spectators. Other events provide flow, lots of it. F1 should be more about flow.

  76. I went to the British GP once. I spent four hours in a world class traffic jam, in order to park in a world class muddy field and get world class shit all over my shoes on the walk to the circuit. I stood on a world class bank of earth in world class pissing down rain for six hours, with a short break to buy a world class half-cooked dogburger that gave me the world class runs. Sure, the event is brilliant – but strawberries & cream it ain’t.

    1. agreed I think thats where the comparison breaks down, because you dont pay general admission prices to go sit on centre court on wimbledons finals day unless you are fortunate in the ballot and paying the correct ticket price (centre court tickets for final day are £148, Silverstone charges £150 for general admission only) so youll be paying over the odds for it, even more so given the championship starts soon.

      I think if you charged people $8k (which are mostly the debenture tickets being resold) to sit on a piece of dirt for 8hrs if they wanted a reasonable view, told them to bring their own seat, put multiple layers of catch fencing and acres of gravel trap in front of them and said come rain,shine youve got to sit there all day and basically not move or youll lose your place, so bring plenty of your own food and drink, but try not to need the toilets which you dont want to brave using anyway, and you might not see any of the major parts of the race anyway, and probably wont hear the commentary (even with quieter cars because the PA always breaks), theyd probably not be paying those high prices either.

      the nearer comparison to the general admission Silverstone experience is closer to sitting on Henman Hill, and Wimbledon charge the princely sum of £15 on finals day,so thats only 1/10th of the cost of Silverstone.

      I do really think it would be an interesting experience for anyone on the “other side of the fences” be they media/teams/sponsors/circuit owners to take away their paddock/press passes for just the weekend and give them the full public experience of the product they are serving up (how else do they know they arent undercharging for the experience for instance, marketeers will always tell you if it sells out you arent charging enough). but Im not sure how many of them would put up with it for a day let alone a whole weekend.

      the fact the British motorsport fans still descend on the place in their thousands, pay that amount of money and put up with it, is to their eternal credit and I really dont think the TPTB get that

  77. Joe is a stakeholder in F1 (since he apparently makes his living by reporting about it and/or other business associated with F1), so his opinion of F1’s value is clearly biased and untrustworthy.

    If I ran a porn site then I’d want people to value porn, too. I would never talk porn down. I would even look for evidence that porn is good value for money and good for your health.

    F1 maybe a world class sporting occasion, but its treatment of its fans is definitely NOT world class. As Joe said to my earlier reply about linking the race fee to ticket sales, “They don’t care.”

    That’s why I do not bring anyone I care about to an F1 race. It is just simply a bad experience.

    1. Biased and untrustworthy? Hmmm. Let me tell you a little parable. A man called Allan is invited to dinner in the House of Joe. He turns up and insults the host. Tells him he don’t like the curtains and that he has ugly children. Allan is told to sod off and doesn’t get invited again. Oh, and as he is being thrown out, he is told that he is a dysfunctional f@ckwit who is better suited to watching porn than taking part in civilized social intercourse… I’ll leave you to work out the moral of the tale.

      1. Up there with Æsop m is is that Alsop, and regardless, that should be a classic blogging tale!

    2. No. Just no.

      Joe derives his income from F1 but I’m sure he could earn more money for less work doing something else – almost anything else. If he is “biased” by anything it has less to do with being a “stakeholder” and more to do with his love of the sport. But his love of the sport is what motivates him to illuminate the dark corners of it and criticise its flaws. Joe’s love of F1 drives him to highlight its flaws, perhaps in order to pressure those in power to fix them.

      You know, when he isn’t just trying to share a huge amount of his insight into the sport with us mere plebs.

      By your logic Allan, no film critic would ever give a negative review, for fear of bringing down the entire cinema industry. On the contrary, only by being honest about the faults can any organisation, any structure, any organisation ever become great.

      Joe’s blog is his conduit to share air his insight and with that come his opinions, as in any journalism. You may disagree with Joe’s opinions. You may think that they are influenced by his own frame of reference – one different from your own. This may in fact be the definition of “opinion”.

      We read his work because he is trustworthy, because in the vast majority of cases he understands his own frame of reference and attempts to expand it in order to better interpret a situation concerning the sport.

      At any one time a number of people may disagree with his opinion, as I do on this issue of F1 ticket prices, however this is not evidence of bias or some inherent untrustworthiness and it’s foolish to suggest as much.

      I would, by contrast, suggest that it more likely indicates a failure to fully and completely communicate his own wisdom and insight. Which may be as much our own failing as his, as is all communication.

      In this instance, for example :
      1) I, personally, still do not understand what Joe means by “world class” as his denial (above) that it implies comparison on a global scale appears to contradict definitions in just about every dictionary I can get my hands on.

      2) I, personally, still do not understand the logic of the comparisons used in the main article when Great Britain’s primary sport of football is not discussed and British football’s top annual event (the FA Cup final) is mocked by association with “the garden fete in Scratchy Bottom”

      3) I, personally, still do not understand the relevance of the resale/eBay market prices, especially for other events. If one considers the resale/eBay market to represent the “real” value of tickets, surely the only logical comparison with tickets to the same event? If British GP tickets end up on eBay for thousands of pounds, then the official price could be interpreted as being too cheap. The only relevance of comparing these resale market prices would be to determine the relative value of F1 to other events, not to make any comment on F1 ticket prices (to rephrase : if tickets to the men’s Wimbledon final are $8,200 and Silverstone prices all tickets at $4000 but do not sell at all, the tickets are still cheap compared to Wimbledon, but that just tells us that people value tennis more)

      4) I, personally, still do not understand how one can discuss the value of F1 ticket prices in isolation of the impact that similarly priced pay-TV packages have on the long term fanbase of the sport as surely the majority of British F1 fans are prioritising the ability to watch all the races live on television over the ability to attend the one race in Great Britain.

      And as should be obvious from the points above, I personally still do not understand the logic of Joe’s approach, despite his insistence that the logic is clear.

      I come back to this not because I don’t respect Joe but on the contrary because I truly do and I genuinely wish to learn from his understanding of the sport, of marketing value, of people. His frame of reference is different from my own and I wish to learn from that and understand more. But I understand too that it is impossible to make 100% of people understand any one lesson. I like to think that in most cases I’m in the 99% who understand and learn something from Joe’s work; in this instance I appear to be in the 1%.

      Maybe it says more about me than it does about him.

      1. I, too, am confused. But the quality of the debate has been restoring of my faith in man, regardless.

    3. I suggest you start running your own porn blog (and site). That will keep you busy enough and you won’t have time to make stupid and disrespectful comments. How dare you make pathetic remarks about somebody you know nothing about, someone you’ve never met? Beyond me. Joe, I suggest you block this individual.

  78. “I do really think it would be an interesting experience for anyone on the “other side of the fences” be they media/teams/sponsors/circuit owners to take away their paddock/press passes for just the weekend and give them the full public experience of the product they are serving up ”
    +1 Many will think they can simply imagine the experience, but one should try it and then make statements on it. And no excuses as in “I did it 20 years ago”.
    Try it now and see if you still walk away thinking it was a world class event.

    Sometime ago there was an argument that women/families would be more attracted to F1 with the quieter cars these days. Well, they’ll make it 1-time: after they’ve seen the toilets, they won’t come back. 😉

  79. WeI just spent a week at a worldclass event with worldclass history. We spent 130 euro’s to attend. We spent 110 euro’s for accomodation.

    The name: Le Mans 24 Hours, worldclass motorracing event with more worldclass history than every single Grand Prix (except for the French GP of course, oh wait….).

    The money mentioned got us the following:

    – A viewing spot in every viewing area during practice and qualifying
    – A viewing spot in every viewing area which is not numbered. This includes viewing on the front straight, in front of the grandstands
    – A chance to catch op with team members and drivers during the Friday pitwalk and in between sessions in the village.
    – Having a close look at the cars while the’re being worked on.
    – Having a great party during the parade
    – A camping spot for two, trackside, from monday to monday.
    – Loads of other things.

    (and we weren’t even in the cheapest camping site)

    So compared to that a world class event like a GP is expensive.

    I have done that,although more than 20 years ago. Been-there, done-that. It got me the cheapest saturday and sunday ticket, no more, for roughly the same money I mentioned.

    Maybe Le Mans is underpriced, maybe the ACO want to keep it affordable. I think it is the latter and looking at the list of F1 events falling by the wayside in recent years I think it is for the best.

    But maybe Le Mans is not worldclass enough….

    1. How did you get there? Magic carpet? Presumably you need to include the travel in the costs. Plus meals etc etc.

      1. We are talking about the ticket price of a worldclass event, not the ticket price of public transport, nor the peage, nor the petrol bill. And since the price of transport is something you always will have to pay, whether you go to a GP or to the moon it is a not a point of discussion, unless you go hitchhiking.

        We are also not talking about food prices here, since you have got to eat, regardless of where you are.

        But as you asked:
        Simply by hopping onto the TGV for just 60 euro’s. And since Carrefour provides just everything you need we had to spend a whopping 120 euro’s on meals and beer….

        Oh, forgot about the tram: another grand 10 euro’s.

        Worldclass event, for worldclass price, which provides a worldclass story every year.

  80. Cheapest general admission at Silverstone for the weekend is £170 with a grandstand costing at least £240. General admission at Le Mans is €73. At the rate of €1.20/£1 that’s £60 so not much over a third of the price. Grandstands start at €60 so £110 including admission so less than two thirds of the price to sit on the floor at Silverstone.

      1. Love it or loathe it (earlier blogs and comments make it clear that you’re no fan of sportscars) it’s closer comparison to the type of event and one that’s likely to appeal to a similar group of fans.

        1. I don’t understand where you get this from. I don’t have a problem with sports cars. It is not F1, but some folks get turned on by it. The point I made about sports cars was that I did not understand why Audi kept winning Le Mans over and over and over. Nor do I understand the logic of Audi versus Porsche. Beyond that I did Le Mans several times back in the 1980s and had a great time. As to whether it is the right comparison I tend to think not. The few prototypes are impressive enough but Jean-Paul Quelquechose in a ratty ORECA-Nissan dressed up as something else is not quite the Bolshoi Ballet…

          1. So why did McLaren, Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull et al keep on winning F1 championships? Where was the logic of Renault v Red Bull in 2009/2010?

            It’s the perfect comparison. The few Mercedes or Red Bulls are impressive enough but Kamui Kobayashi in a Caterham isn’t quite the RSC…

            Anyhow, seems we won’t agree so let’s leave it here 🙂

  81. went to my first race in ’88 and loved it ever since. Been to over 20 races in 5 countries so I guess i’m a fan. theses days i’m really quite over it. the engines sound hopeless and the restrictions and complications are just too much. tickets too high and tv too hard to access for the rather average show that f1 has become. the luster and spectacle has diminished at a rapid rate this year because the fans and traditional values of the sport have been ignored. I honestly see this as a terminal decline because if a dedicated fan such as myself is on the wane then the average punter has well and truly left…….
    And i’m really sick of being told i’m an ape because I don’t like the engines. And im sick of pro f1 journalists with vested interests (pit passes) trying to convince me with false or one sided arguments how good it all still is…. I would think its all amazing too if i went to each race with a season pass in the paddock club, however that is the stuff of dreams and the privileged few. The real fans dont get this treatment or access.Neither is their voice heard or seemingly considered. F1 CRH does an absolutely woeful job of promoting the show. It is now on the decline while the key few line their pockets. best of luck….it was good while it lasted.

    1. And I’m sick of hearing that people cannot open their minds to change. F1 today IS still a great sport. It has problems but the racing is not one of them.

    2. Paul,

      You can like the engines or not… and you can accurately point out that F1 treats its fans like dirt… but the racing itself is the best it’s been in years. It seems to be due to the combination of less downforce, sometimes-iffy tire grip, and the big increase in instant torque coming out of corners. (The latter seems the biggest difference, and it is due entirely to the properties of electric drive.)

      It appears they’ve followed a different route to get the kind of improvement Mario Andretti has been saying for years is needed. He called for less aero and more hp. They don’t have more hp, but they do have the challenge that more hp would give them: how to put the power down properly when leaving corners when traction is less automatic.

      The drivers have to actually master the cars in ways that they haven’t had to do recently. And, car faults or not, Seb hasn’t been very good at it thus far… especially when compared to his teammate. Daniel Ricciardo? Who knew? (Not me…)

      1. They have more hp not absolutely, but at interesting moments, is my take. Far better than the pure rockets of the last turbos .. I just hope they’ll listen to Pirelli and try wide tires again.

        1. I do see your point…

          But I’d like to see them try narrow tires again (not that I expect it)… all the drifting through corners with the front wheels pointed the wrong way… lovely…

          1. Or just free the regs to allow the choice.

            Gonna have a ramble, throw some things in the air..

            Tire choice and design could create really distinct car builds. Think how much the six tire Tyrell made use of just one dimension limit.

            I’d rather just open the spec, and let teams request what they want for tires.

            It might be good general policy, to rotate interest and attention between different aspects of the racing cars, year by year.

            Not everyone would immediately demand huge wide chocolate-soft rubber.

            Going to wide rears changes enough in suspension and bodywork and unlike the former turbo era, bodywork has internal airflow as a component, to make the idea of wide rear bodies much more interesting.

            Maybe like the dual engine overlap, aspirated and turbo permitted, you could have a wide versus narrow tire deal with softer compounds for the smaller contact area tires.

            (“maybe” is starting to be a overused word in my vocab, but bear with me)

            Maybe the cost of aero design, at least in simulation, compute wise, has fallen enough allow de-emphaisis of engines, as they have such a impact this year, but only if you can make quite big changes in aero to make up gaps.

            To some extent teams who are not aero strong could opt for big mechanical grip. There must be a caveat, both ways. I’ll try to suggest a way to stop everyone just turning the same way and the same resource advantages applying automatically.

            If there’s a certain win, maybe all teams will follow one path. But those years when turbo were phased in led to some spectacular drives. Thinking the Cosworth able to caress the power in the wet.

            What we’ve got with the PUs is potentially programmable torque curves.

            Where do you want the power?

            Is linear delivery actually what you want?

            I looked up some NASCAR traces that are floating about, and those graphs are well worth a search to find.

            If you achieve linear delivery, maybe just because you can put down so much in low gear, that is awesome for a normal driver maybe, but just look at the tracks and gear ratios and the lines you might want to take, and linear may not be always giving you advantage. How much can we rethink lines through corners?

            I think we’re up against fitness levels, human frailty, the g’s you can take cornering are so close to endurance limits for a long time. The more you can program delivery the less you might strain the driver.

            I’m thinking about this anew, having not until the last year ever even tried to think through any relevant physics. Nothing I think will ever surprise any engineer or race driver, but what if we brought back more straightaways, cut some chicanes to reflect confidence in safety?

            Tiptoeing through the corners in past turbo cars gave us thrills. Four wheel drift would be great to see too. I’m selfish, or would like us both to have our ways, so why not see if you can have a bit of both?

            RShack, you and I both would love some drifting, slides, the kind of control that is a man trusting to physics.

            No gimmick helps you when you are at the limit of adhesion!

            Aero works almost too well at slow speed with blowing exhausts, but that’s recycled energy now. But whopping wide tires with extended wings… say you choose wide tires and gain the real axel base to have albatross wings again, well, they won’t be planks like they were, not again. How much can you do with such a surface area even at low speed?

            What you made me think of, in terms of narrow tires and sliding, is there’s no driver aid that can work at the limit of adhesion. Those drivers were trusting to physics in a way that was spiritual, sadly ending in calamity too often. It’s obvious how this affected driver psychology. But we need to recognize the vast safety improvements. It’s twenty years of progress. Not any normal kind of progress, either. In some fields it’s considered that, every three years, more computations are done than in the entire prior history. I still believe some impacts like nose under flips are not being paid attention to, but across the board this last twenty years has been beyond anything I could dream as a boy in development, and boy I dreamed.

            Drivers trusted in the laws of physics maybe even more so than their cars. Intuitively.Twenty years ago, if you slung the tub into the air, your next flight would be to hospital. Just a little before that, the driver connection with physics was absolute trust in their feeling of the car, because the car was nothing but, by comparison, a fast coffin, if they lost it.

            If we could let drivers approach that contact with laws of nature more often, I think we… I think there would be a transformation in drivers, driving… we’d never lack for quotes that inspire for one thing. Seriously, think how to ensure pilots can handle big corkscrew tumbles a bit more carefully, in case, not n purpose.

            I just called drivers ” pilots”. Because. That would be a nice word to bring back in every sense except undesired lift off.

            Do we need thin tires to create that?

            Just make the possibility of going for pure straight line speed a more open question. More revs will come. This year is showing us racing in the corners, but throw in the option of a shed load more grip, we may see different passing styles between cars. Wide tires for that come with a cost in drag for the straightaway.

            I wish someone who had the knowledge could give some idea what the cost/benefit would be.

            I do know what I would like, which is a way for smaller teams to be able to chose a simpler gain that would be a choice big teams with other advantages would think twice before following. For example, if you chose fat tires and wide rear wings, limit the aero developments permitted. So big teams with big aero will not have a immediate incentive, because they lose a optimization they need to not lose other advantages,

            Hmm, is my idea actually this: allow quite large breaks from the rules, but do not allow immediate follow on with 24/7 refinement. As in,try a new part that is radical, only you are stuck with it at least a few races.

            I am trying to think how you can stop everyone chasing everyone else down incrementally expensive paths. By having “circuit breaker” rules that say you only go so far at a time. Go simulate all you want, maybe. But in the meantime you made your choice, rolled the dice.

            If you could make design changes more newsworthy, because the risk to a season campaign was significant, you surely would highlight the engineering. I think I said something like this a couple of weeks ago. But if we can have double points for Abu Dhabi, which could make a whole WDC a toss up, why can we not have significant bets on design being noted by the general press?

            At the end of the day, sometimes I believe the more static is a rule set, the more likely someone games it. If you are the pinnacle of any technology, you ought to be confident in your ability to set and maintain fairness based on understanding the tech. Confident enough to loosen those rules, not as a admission you cannot oversee every detail, but as a overt statement that if behavior is out of line, you’ll catch it. Make that impression hand in hand with a emphasis on sporting fairness, on the track, along with a general promotion facelift and it’s no retrograde. Detailed technical rules have dominated championship influencing points, but they have never actually added anything. To all my experience F1 has annoyingly most often presented the technical side as a frustrating distraction from sport itself.

            Crucially, if you open specs just enough, you start to concentrate less on the specs and more on general fairness. It would not be two teams arguing fuel rate, or the width of a wing component, but instead “RBR came in with their new rear wing that caused controversy, but the Mercedes new wheelbase may have been the best for this track” … though my point is not the easiest to make, if you tell people they can make big design changes, but they better be happy with it for even three races, you stop many arguments in minutiae, and I think the public, including me, would feel it fairer to allow changes so long as they could not be rectified overnight.

            Imagine a new part did break the rules, but you have to run it for three races.

            Fancy a penalty, or even disqualification, for three races in a row? Equally, let objections come only after three races, before the car starts to evolve based on that choice, so you place a huge penalty on a team who introduces a radical part not allowed in rules, and thinks they can follow through with new bits from simulation, because they will be a long way the wrong way, by the time formal objections come up.

            I absolutely think teams should be asked to vote on in season testing time, also. If not unanimous, then a very high majority required.

            Assuming rich teams will always vote for testing, this lets the small teams get a chance when they have a important thing to test. That way they are not disadvantaged, in fact if they design their tests well they could gain a bit, small teams must be given a chance to test. The thought of having to freeze design completely leaves me with a cold, because of how many times I have had a revelation how I was wrong long into a campaign, and had to change direction.

            Sorry guys for being passionate without, well, I think I don’t have the ability to back up all I am trying to engage with here, in the detail I would like, but my wish is to find natural balances in the systems technical and human and financial, that with the smallest changes, create the most fair opportunities. I tried to reply earlier today to a question about collaboration between competitors on sponsorship sales. That is at the root of some of my earliest study. For all the econometric papers and game theory I ever read, I became more interested in leveraging human instincts rather than technical rules or legal strictures. In English law there is a basis called the common man test. Does a law or interpretation or decision reflect a common man’s sensibility? But the unfortunate thing is that rather a few practitioners forget to loop back to the common man test, having passed through all the technical hoops of case and statute that are supposed to embody that sense. Close that loop, please. It’s not a insurmountable challenge.

            RShack, dear friend, I say we can have it all! I think the secret may be to allow different directions for different teams, because even handing everyone the same budget to pursue the same goal I just going to favor who has made the longest strides in that direction already.

            I believe F1 is a sport of manufacturers, and as such I believe each team is eminently capable of producing race winning cars. I go Si far as to say if we clul preset the knowledge to a even field, there is nothing to say a Caterham will bit take podiums. We cannot like Pol Pot, negate knowledge, but we can set challenges in ways that make everyone face mire equal questions.

            Talking of challenges, could not some of the people who design the DARPA Grand Challenges be asked to come look at F1? People who are dedicated to advancing the art, and setting very hard goals. Oh, and who know how to talk to government and public and engineers and geeks alike. Oh, and oh, who are American so would be listened to over your yard, if they had a year to do something with F1? Just a thought…

  82. Hi Joe,

    Bahrain and Canada were pretty good for sure…..the rest? Hmmmmmm not so much.

    You know I love your blog and your outlook for the most part I agree with your observations but sometimes its better to take a step back a look from a far. I guarantee your views would change if you didn’t attend any racees for a year and consumed the sport as per the vast majority do – on TV.

    As always Best Regards

  83. Joe, I would live to have been a fly on the wall whilst you saw all these comments coming in. At 300 responses, I think that erased a earlier high tide mark. It’s the limit of readability, scrolling and scrolling. Yes, dear other readers I feel your pain at scrolling past my comments!

    Nonetheless, I think discussions sometimes take a bit to warm up, from initial reactions to more attentive exchange. Every time I go along a tangent, I’m struggling with my own judgment as to whether it’s a good idea to do so. Anecdotally, however, I think thinks warm up here at about 100 comments or so.

    I thought of something I’d like to ask you if you just thought it was not a dumb idea in general, Joe: if there was a way to present only the first lines of a comment, and click to expand, so you think that would detract from the format? Okay, maybe not important to know your thoughts on this one, but up to a hundred or so comments, seeing the full comment is good, by my guess.

    But I thought again there is a way regulars here tend to pick up discussion from before but do so often forget their drift. I reckon it would be easy to save some of the comment history and give regulars a context, but also to let hot discussions continue on a different part of the site. You’re not focused on page views and churning visitors like every other website seems to be, but I think you could add a few features for regular readers that would not be devalued with advertising on the page. I’ll not go into detail here, in the remote consideration I have a idea in the mix which is worth protecting, but I would like to see a way to go “unmoderated” sometimes, and maybe some visitors would like to have a yell at me in a way that is beyond the pale of your brand garden. Or I think a couple whom I speak with off blog also might like to throw a comment back and forth that was not quite on topic, not fully off topic. My argument would be that when people spend their quality time reading GP+, or your blog entries, and come here, they are in a reflective mood, and it would be nice to have a technical way to post a comment, not to be seen as part of the main page, under a “anything goes” rule. Even as I write this, I’ve got a few ideas how to do that technically and aesthetically without diminishing the values you keep. I do rather a lot of thinking reading your blog, Joe, as must be evident, so I may simply be saying “make it so I can talk direct about random stuff I dream up whilst in reverie about F1, in a good mood because of the atmosphere Joe created, because I’m too lazy to write a email to repack!”. That would be true, but a “anything goes mode” with a different view of the comments, might be a good experiment. You’ve shown that you can have a consistently great discussion section of a blog, with benign dictatorship as a positive tool, and that must be the envy of other publishers. I think a “open mode” might be a good experiment. I keep threatening coming up with good ideas with implementations, and life only kept intervening, but it’s close to simmering now.

    All the best from me. One of the best discussion threads ever. I remain however confused if people did not see the simple art of argument at work, while they reverse engineered every each time more tenuous reason why you might stick to argument based on two words. I believe it is called rhetoric! Maybe I am just another silly person trying to find some good reason Joe is all wrong and doesn’t know it. Maybe. Maybe the man has a clue how to have a debate. I find it difficult, actually, to think how people debating in a comments section, would not appreciate the simpler arts of discourse, or, for that matter how it is possible for a man to not be just quite as simplistic as his rhetoric, in hi understanding of the world.

    Oh, slap me if I am wrong, wake me up, slosh me with ice cold water, has philosophy and rhetoric become so alien a practice as it must be assumed a man is a bigot for holding forth a unchanging question for debate? The more I accept I can be wrong, the more I laugh at myself… do think about a unmoderated section, Joe! Where can put up a user poll: Is Saward 1) Up his own as ever? 2) Clueless despite all the logic we just dumped on his head? 3) Engaging in a age old ritual of rhetorical debate where the entire purpose is not to concede but to find the strongest antagonism of argument to then address for just possibly there lies the value? 4) I am sorry, what was this all about, I didn’t watch the race cos I couldn’t afford?


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