In May this year I attended my third Formula One Grand Prix in Spain, the previous two being in Singapore and Australia. I find sport is a great way to get to know a city and its locals when travelling. Over the years I have attended a football game in Australia and baseball and football games in the USA. Each one, as well as the F1 has allowed me to chat to the locals and get to know their passion for sport. Something I wouldn’t be able to understand otherwise.
For every Formula One race meet I’ve attended I’ve had my boyfriend who has been to 20+ before to help me, but what would happen if I was heading to a race abroad for the first time and I had no one to help me? Here are some tips for getting it right at a Formula One race meet.
Top Tips For Seeing A Formula One Race
Wear Proper Shoes
A Formula One grand prix is one of those places where you think you won’t have to walk much, but in reality you will end up walking miles. At most circuits you can walk around the whole track and apparently this is a ‘must do thing’, also the station is often a 30 minute walk away, adding at least an hours walk to the day.
Know How Long it Takes to Get There – then double it
As I just said the station is often located a fair walk away from the track so it’s important you know how far you have to walk once you get to the station. I also found that when I googled distances these were to the main part of the circuit – if your seats are around the other side then this is going to add valuable time on to the journey. Hence giving yourself double the time to get there – you would’t want to miss the action after spending so much on a ticket.
Take Food and Drink in
I always find this a tough call when heading to sporting events, each circuit has different rules of what you can and can’t bring in. Generally it seems water is fine – but they may remove the lid and a general sandwich for lunch was allowed in too. I did notice some people with an overly extravagant picnic being turned away though. The reason for doing all this: prices for food and drink inside the circuit are ridiculous! We spent around €30 each on day one in Spain because we didn’t take in food and drink, on the second day we spent around €10 each because we did take in food and drink.
Buy Grandstand Tickets
When it comes to choosing tickets for the race I’ve always sat in a grandstand. Partly because I’m stupidly short and can never see above anyone but also because I don’t travel with a chair (or similar) for sitting on and saving my space in the general admission areas. These areas don’t come with seats and it is a first come basis – meaning unless you arrive when the gates open and sit in one spot all day you risk not being able to see.
And Pick that Grandstand near the Big Screens
Following on from my above point, picking a grandstand isn’t easy work unless you know a lot about Formula One. The price will probably be the biggest factor to where you sit, however the next thing to look for is how close the big screen is. When you only have the track to look at it can be very hard to keep track of the race and what is going on. It also gets a bit boring when there are no cars in front of you, if you can’t see the screen
Buy Merchandise Early
This point is pretty straight forward but we have found on several occasions that merchandise sells out pretty quickly – especially M and L size t.shirts. I recommend popping to the store on the Friday if you have a three day ticket. If not make it your first stop when you arrive on the Saturday/Sunday.
Again straight forward and I would hope obvious. Days at the Formula One are pretty long and often they fall during the hottest part of the day. Be sure to take precautions even if it’s a cloudy day. We also find the grandstands provide little to no shade cover which is why this is so important.
Take a Radio Device – if you have one
There is commentary at the circuit but the Formula One cars are noisy and you won’t hear it. Having your own little radio in your ear can really help keep track of the racing. They sell these at the track usually but the prices are high. So I normally use my little iPod Nano and tune it to the FM frequency which the circuit provide for everyone. This normally comes in English.
Book Tickets Early
We have always booked our tickets through the official F1 site, they offer 20% and 10% discounts for early bird tickets. As soon as you know you want to go, make sure you book those tickets. Especially as there are a limited number/time of these priced tickets and you don’t want to miss out.
I’ve normally managed to do all of the above things right first or second time. Dressing appropriately however has never been my strong point. In Australia I had to buy a coat and poncho because the heavens opened and we got wet and cold. Then in Spain I had the opposite problem where there was no shade from the sun and I ended up having to buy a cap to keep the sun off my face. While it is fun to have clothing from the merchandise store, this is not a cheap and affordable options. Make sure you go dress appropriately and save your money for beer.
The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the racing. A sporting event really is a great addition to any city trip.