At this point, I think we’re all aware that Formula One is a notoriously elitist sport that costs a lot of money, whether it be from competitors or from race fans. The series has already looked to cut costs for competitors. Now, it’s turning its attention to race fans.
“We know that attending an F1 event can be expensive,” said F1 director of strategy and business Yath Gangakumaran, as quoted in Autosport. “As part of our second pillar about sustainable events by 2025, a key component is working with each of the promoters to see where we can ensure that people from the local community, particularly from underprivileged backgrounds, are able to access the events at either a heavily discounted rate or free of charge.”
This all ties into F1's recent initiatives to become both fully sustainable and to become more accessible, the latter of which has largely been through the banner of the We Race As One campaign. The series recently announced scholarships for more diverse but underrepresented folks to pursue careers in STEM fields. Now, it’s turning its attention to the fan base.
F1 Destinations found that, as of 2019, the average price of a General Admission ticket for an F1 event was $163, but I’m going to be honest: GA isn’t always accessible, depending on the track. I have painful memories of drawing the short straw at the Canadian Grand Prix, where you have to line up at the gates of the track at four in the morning and sprint to stake your claim on your GA section if you actually intend on seeing anything. In terms of simple mobility accessibility, that is pretty gnarly.
That’s not taking into consideration other costs. Not every race track is accessible via public transportation, and parking or commuting costs can be absurd. Some tracks don’t allow you to bring in outside food or beverages, meaning you’ll be stuck purchasing that $9 bottle of water or that $15 hot dog.
And because F1 races in so many different countries around the globe, you end up bringing in massive wealth disparities. In Baku, the average resident would have to spend over half their monthly wages to afford a three-day GA ticket.
So, while there are some naysayers about this whole initiative, it also has a lot of potential to reach people who have previously been priced out of attending a race.