For many Americans that love motor racing, NASCAR is in their blood and will always be the #1 motorsport in the US, but oval racing with crude, bulky cars isn’t everyone’s thing, and while NASCAR is the most popular form of racing stateside, Formula 1 takes the crown as the most-watched motorsport in the world.
What exactly is it that makes Formula 1 the crème de la crème of global motorsport, and is it actually worth paying for a flight and weekend ticket to experience the thrill up-close?
In this article, we’re going to take you through the entire journey, but don’t worry if you’re not up to speed on how F1 works and which races are the best to visit, we’ll be covering everything from what F1 is, to how a race weekend is structured and exactly what it takes (and costs) for you to attend an F1 race and have an experience of a lifetime you’ll never forget.
Formula 1 – What’s the deal?
The Formula 1 World Championship is a global race series featuring the fastest open-wheeled racing cars in the world. There are more than 20 races on the season calendar featuring energy races in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East. Household name manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Aston Martin summon their very finest designers and engineers to have a crack at crafting a car that can potentially win the championship.
Each team consists of 2 cars, 2 drivers, and a large team of dedicated mechanics, technicians, and big-wigs that work in harmony to be the fastest on track. Drivers race to earn points towards the 2 championship titles on offer, the Driver’s World Championship, and the Constructor’s World Championship. Drivers earn points for themselves and their constructor, whoever finishes the season with the most points, wins – it’s that simple.
2021 saw the closest fought battle for the Driver’s World Championship in recent history with British driver and at the time, the reigning champion, Lewis Hamilton, and up-and-coming Dutchman, Max Verstappen concluding their spectacular season with an action-packed and highly controversial finale.
What is F1 like to watch?
Even if you’re not familiar with the incredible history of F1, watching a race from the grandstands is a precious experience. In no other way can you experience the true sound, sight, and emotion from a field of Formula 1 cars soaring about the race track.
Everything in F1 is about precision, so the timing of the cars and keeping track of what’s going on quickly becomes an obsession. There’s always some drama going on whether it’s Free Practice, Quali, or the Race, from drivers making mistakes to pit-wall bosses complaining about the rules, the energy of an F1 weekend is unforgettable to be a part of.
Which F1 race is the best to attend?
If you’re already a fan of F1, you’ll most likely have an idea of which circuits you most enjoy watching, and which of those are not too difficult to travel to, so this serves as a great indication of which race venues you could choose to visit. If you’re not too sure of which races you’d enjoy watching, here are some classic fan-favorite races that never fail to produce excellent F1 racing.
Best F1 races to attend:
- Monte-Carlo, Monaco GP
- Silverstone, British GP
- Circuit of the Americas, US GP
- Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexican GP
- Monza, Italian GP
- Catalunya, Spanish GP
- Marina Bay, Singapore GP
Which ticket should you buy?
There are different tiers of tickets, depending on the kind of seat you choose, and additional extras like paddock access or on-site hospitality suites. With action spanning from Friday to Sunday, it’s worth buying a weekend ticket to get the greatest experience of an F1 race.
When it comes to choosing a ticket, you’ll be shown a map of the track indicating the location of the seating choices available from grandstands to general admission. Whether you’re watching the race from a grandstand, or from the general admission areas, you’ll have a view of a large TV screen showing action happening on other parts of the circuit so you never miss a thing.
Because accommodation is something essential, there is often a great range of hotels in the surrounding area of the circuit, or you may wish to purchase a different type of ticket with the benefits of on-track hospitality.
F1 Race Weekend Structure
The Free Practice sessions are each an hour-long, with 3 in total – P1 and P2 on Friday and P3 on Saturday morning before qualifying. Free practice sessions are your first chance to see the drivers take to the track with the primary objective to experiment with a range of potential car setups until the driver and team feel they’re comfortable with using the package for qualifying and the race.
The objective of qualifying, split into Q1, Q2, and Q3 in an elimination format normally, is to set the fastest lap possible. Often, this is the first chance of the weekend to really see the drivers pushing the cars closer to their limits, and definitely not a session you would want to miss.
Results of qualifying dictate the starting grid for Sunday with the leading driver in pole position. Races often last between 1hr 30 and 2hrs depending on how many accidents lead to the use of the safety car, or other causes of delays such as bad weather. The race is the highlight of the weekend and the day where everything comes together.
The best way to go and watch F1?
To ensure you get time to settle into your surroundings and get accustomed to where everything is before the action starts, we recommend arriving at your hotel on Wednesday or Thursday, as the first Free Practice sessions start on Friday morning, and leaving on Monday, giving you a chance to take in all the events of Sunday and get a good night’s rest before heading home.
Book your race weekend ticket as early as possible, of course, due to COVID-19 measures many of the race circuits don’t put tickets on sale until it gets closer to the date. You can set up notifications in order to notify you when tickets are on sale.
When you have your weekend tickets it’s time to book the flights, accommodation and some transport for getting about. It might sound like a lot of things to organize, so remember it’s an adventure, and even if you can’t splash out on a VIP package or a hotel parked right on the circuit, you’re still going to have the same incredible experience of Formula 1 in the flesh.
How much do tickets cost on average?
As an example, we’ll take a look at ticket prices for the US F1 Grand Prix in Austin, TX.
2022 F1 Ticket Prices
Circuit of the Americas, USA –
- General Admission: $370-$670
- Main Grandstand ($1300-$3250)
With everything you need now firmly in your grasp, we hope you’ll have a much clearer idea of everything that goes on during an F1 race weekend and what it’s like to be part of the action. Now all that’s left is to decide on the circuit that fits you best and go for it! You won’t ever look back.
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