The Silverstone ticket prices have become a contentious point of discussion this year following their ticket release last week on 11th April. The prices that people were being charged was met with an onslaught of criticism and disbelief given the stark jump in costs over the past year. Many were quick to point out the ridiculous cost of the pit walk but the worst was yet to come. Silverstone have released their final batch of tickets this morning at 10am, giving rise to a frenzied scramble for the final few tickets for the 2023 Grand Prix. If this were last year I would say that the prices for a simple general admission ticket were ludicrous but considering the extortionate costs that the circuit has introduced this year, a 3-day general admission ticket for £499 falls perfectly in line with the ever-increasing costs of Formula 1. With many voicing their complaints over ticket prices, can the average fan even afford to attend a race anymore? And will these pleas for a change fall on deaf ears?
When analysing the costs of Formula 1 in 2023, I thought a good point to start would be to look at the latest circuits that have been added to the calendar and how they have been priced as their ticket prices provide us with the most up to date valuation of how much Formula 1 think the price of attending a race should be. The average cost of a general admission ticket for the Miami GP is $590 whilst Vegas tickets come in slightly cheaper at $500. In comparison to Silverstone this works out to a similar price but it should be noted that this is the starting point for these new races and as they are in their infancy I’m certain the ticket prices will see a steady increase as the years go on. Unlike Silverstone, these races don’t have many retrospective prices to be compared to if at all, whilst Silverstone has been a staple on the F1 calendar since 1950 and so it’s much easier to see the surge in costs. This has caused an outcry as many have compared the costs that they previously paid to the figures seen this year and simply cannot make sense of why the ticket prices have shot up so much.
The introduction of dynamic pricing is what has lead to the widespread upset of many fans as they found that the initial price listed for a ticket had skyrocketed by the time they had reached their turn to book tickets, this is no doubt an effective marketing ploy from Formula 1 but it definitely has not gone down well with the fanbase. The recent explosion of the sport over the past few years has naturally increased the global interest in F1 and the sport has capitalised off of this popularity for financial gain. Now, if we’re being fair this is not an F1 problem it’s just how business works, as the market grows so does the potential profit. The expectation for the sport to remain loyal to its dedicated supporters would be nice but it’s in no way realistic. This is also Formula 1 that we’re talking about, the sport that is known as the ‘billionaire boys club’ who at their heart have always been driven by money and always will be. With the sport now going mainstream and picking up in the US like it never has before I can’t see these prices slowing down any time soon, the demand has become much greater meaning that the sport is able to control the supply and charge whatever they see fit. Although the sport has never really strayed too far from its roots of luxury and exclusivity, the broader access that has been granted to fans in the modern era made it look as though it was taking steps forward. There is no denying that Liberty Media have done a stellar job in making the sport more appealing to a newer, younger audience but ultimately F1 will always be a sport for the rich.
The final question left is when will F1 draw the line on what is too much, in my opinion they won’t. Formula 1 have introduced a Las Vegas package for $5 million and this perfectly encapsulates the mood of the sport and the direction it’s heading in. I’m not saying that this will become a regular occurrence as every race, as Vegas has been marked as a spectacle of opulence, but it does show that the sport is willing to squeeze as much as they can out of those who are willing to pay and there will always be someone who is willing to pay. Formula 1 are aware that they can hike their prices up as much as they want as there will always be an audience for whatever they put out, sure this may alienate the average F1 fan, but with the sport drawing in new fans everyday who would do anything to attend a race they can be sure that they will not run out support. Personally I don’t think there will ever come a time where enough fans band together to make a big enough financial impact on the sport to create a change. We’ve seen multiple examples of fans being in disagreement with the sport, such as the now infamous ‘race’ at Spa 2021 in which fans were denied a race and despite calls from drivers for the fans the be refunded they were not. Similarly, there was much disapproval with F1’s decision to race in Saudi Arabia, especially after the missile strike last year, but nothing has changed and F1 have in fact managed to grow even more fans since these events.
If we’re being completely honest, this sport has always been an expensive one and that will never change. The pinnacle of motorsport maintains its prestige by upholding the feeling of luxury and elitism. As regular fans, we many get a glimpse behind the scenes but this shouldn’t be confused with F1 prioritising the average fans over money. That’s not to say that this is the right approach, but it works for the sport and I can’t see it changing any time soon regardless of how you feel about it.