Written by Olivia Eyeson, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri
Formula 1 is known to be a glamorous, luxurious and frankly, expensive sport. Watching the sport whether on TV or live at the racetrack, provides an insight into the world of fast cars and racing. Though it seems to be getting less accessible, as the corporation grows in size.
During the 2000s, you could get general admission weekend tickets to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for solely £95, but for 2023 that same ticket will set you back over £300 minimum. Suddenly, a Grand Prix is no longer a thrilling day out, but instead an investment. So, are F1 pushing away their viewers?
As someone that has attended a Grand Prix before, the atmosphere is infectious, and I believe it is an experience every F1 fan should have. Obviously, a high price is expected as F1 is a business at the heart, but for many, the prices have fallen out of control. Some are questioning the multi-trillion dollar corporation not pushing for a slight loosening of prices.
However, F1 and Liberty media do not control ticket prices, as that responsibility is left to the track itself. As a result, there is no regulation to prevent the Silverstone track from introducing the ‘dynamic pricing’ initiative, where ticket prices increase with demand. Due to this, fans were made to wait for hours in ticket queues whilst the prices changed.
The managing director of Silverstone, Stuart Pringle, issued an apology stating “I am extremely sorry for the frustration, upset, disappointment and anger this has caused, we are going to do a root and branch review on all of this. I am not closing the door on doing anything differently next year, we will consider anything and everything. Nothing is off the table. We have learned a lot of lessons, and we can’t have a repeat of this year.”
The reason behind high prices of tickets are due to the racetracks being required to pay F1 to get onto the calendar, whilst also maintaining the track to ensure the successful hosting of an event. So, as F1 grows in popularity, the bidding for spaces on the calendar also increases, hence Silverstone’s prices rocketing. Tracks then have to pay to prepare the event, which all adds to the ticket price, but should it be to this extent?
On an extreme level, the Las Vegas GP paired up with MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle to create packages worth $100,000, bearing in mind the average salary in this area being $59,492. The renowned hotel chain plans to buy $20-25 million worth of Grand Prix tickets to create hotel and event packages for 2023. To be fair, the Vegas Grand Prix aims to be eccentric and fabulous, so the target demographic isn’t their everyday citizens.
However, this cites a more significant issue, is F1 trying to outprice the general public? When I visited Silverstone, I was told that it would have been less expensive to visit the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya , including the flight. These steep prices put many fans in uncomfortable situations, thereby discouraging them from visiting races. With a growing acknowledgement and fear that F1 doesn't want races to be accessible, viewership could consequently decrease as fans begin to feel a growing sense of detachment from the sport. Few people would want to watch a sport that they will never be able to watch live, especially when you can get tickets to the Indy 500, one of the most illustrious motorsport events, for under $100. Unless F1 wants to become a sport meant exclusively for the wealthy, they need to change their approach immediately.
This dilemma isn't helped by fans' knowledge of driver salaries, bonuses, and investments in the sport. The money to fund the sport seems to be readily available, but for many, it feels that viewers are being targeted. This sport is about the general fans, as they are the ones filling the grandstands, creating the spectacle that is the Tifosi, Orange Army, and so on, and most importantly, creating the atmosphere the drivers seem to enjoy so much.
As of now, Liberty Media seems stubborn in its stance of increasing prices in all aspects of the sport. It is a business venture to them, so it seems as though the everyday people are collateral damage to increasing profits. As long as tickets keep selling out, and record numbers of fans attend Grands-Prix, it is most likely that we won't see many changes to ticket prices. We will have to see whether the future of Formula 1 tries to prioritise normal viewers, or if they continue to focus on the millionaires and billionaires.