Advice | How to see a Formula 1 Grand Prix on a budget

Chances are you or a few of your friends have been really interested in Formula 1 lately.

Global motorsport has conquered the American market in part thanks to the resounding success of the Netflix docuseries “Drive to Survive”. And while new fans are enjoying the races from their sofas on Sunday mornings, many are eager to take the next logical step: attending a grand prix in person.

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The process, however, is not that simple. With a schedule that zigzags across five continents and only a few races in the United States – the series will travel to Austin for the United States Grand Prix on October 23, in addition to races in Miami and Las Vegas next year – see a Formula live A race may require a major travel plan. For Americans who have never been to a race, the whole weekend can be confusing to navigate, not to mention expensive.

If you’re looking forward to your first F1 race but aren’t sure where to start, fear not: these tips will help you plan your trip and hopefully save a few bucks.

Book in advance, especially for hotels

First, you’ll want to figure out which race you’d like to attend and where you’ll be staying. The earlier you plan, the better, as finding a hotel can be one of the trickiest parts of a Formula 1 trip.

Shortly after the official Formula 1 calendar was revealed (the 2023 calendar was released last month), hotels in the city center of the host cities are starting to fill up quickly. Their prices go up closer to the race – most hotels in Austin are going to be north of $400 a night during the upcoming United States Grand Prix – so you’ll want to start researching your hotel options early, almost a year in advance if you wish. to find the best deals.

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If downtown hotels are beyond your budget, there are other options: you may be able to find a good deal on an Airbnb from a host who may not realize there is a formula 1 race in city. Or you can look to stay in a nearby town. For example: if downtown Austin seems limited, you can find more affordable hotels near San Marcos, just a half hour drive from the racetrack.

If you’re traveling with a group of friends, cost sharing can help your wallet.

Don’t sleep Friday at practice

An F1 weekend is much more than just a two-hour race on Sunday. Each grand prix is ​​a three-day festival filled with a variety of racing series and a host of shows and attractions, from hot air balloons to motocross stunt shows to rock concerts. Each racecourse creates a carnival atmosphere.

Most new fans feel compelled to attend Sunday’s race, but it’s not necessarily your best option: those tickets are incredibly expensive (grandstand seating often exceeds $500 per ticket), and the experience visual may be dull. Many sections of each track don’t have video screens, so you’ll often rely on Twitter to figure out what happened to your favorite driver.

Suffice to say that it is very different from watching on TV.

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Usually for a fraction of the price (think $50 instead of $500) you can attend Friday’s Formula 1 practice day and witness a variety of action on the track while soaking up the atmosphere of the site.

Slightly reduced crowds mean you can get around much more easily and not have to wait in obnoxiously long queues, and you can often choose where you want to sit, as the stands aren’t as crowded as the rest of the weekend. If you’re attending your first race and aren’t sure how you’ll like it, this is a great test. It’s a great experience that is often overlooked.

Get home track tickets

Formula 1 isn’t like an MLB or NBA game, where you can just hop on StubHub a few days before and buy some cheap nosebleed seats.

Face value race tickets purchased on the Formula 1 website sell out very quickly, but don’t lose hope: you can also find tickets on each host circuit’s independent website (Circuit of the Americas for the Grand Prix from the United States to Austin; Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June in Montreal).

A sold-out crowd of 140,000 descends on the 2021 Grand Prix in Austin

Some of these sites also offer verified resale portals, which is helpful because resale sites like StubHub, Viagogo, or Vivid Seats don’t always have a lot of options.

And be warned: Ticket prices for new races – like Miami, which debuted this year – tend to be very expensive, especially on the resale market.

Do your homework for each Grand Prix city

Since Formula 1 is such a global series, each race varies enormously in terms of safety procedures, ticket prices, how to get to the racetrack, catering options and accessibility.

F1 Experiences, a travel organization that offers comprehensive ticket packages, offers a free blog that provides helpful guides for each track and host city, as does the F1 Destinations website. Be sure to research the race you’d like to participate in, especially if it’s an international race, so you know exactly what to expect.

Also, it’s a good idea to search social media, especially the Formula 1 subreddit, to get an idea of ​​what the fans were saying at last year’s grand prix. You could get some advice and catch wind of any major issues that arose: weren’t there enough water filling stations? Should we avoid shuttles by taking the metro or by car?

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