Formula One’s television viewing figures paint a depressing picture of the popularity of the sport today. But is the outlook for the sport really so grim?
While the high price of tickets may be a common complaint among fans, it doesn’t deter hundreds of thousands of fans from turning up at some races. Meanwhile other stops on the calendar report far smaller audiences.
Why the disparity from race to race? And how far can the figures supplied by circuits be trusted? Here’s a look at the data available from the last 12 months.
Race day and race weekend attendance in 2015
Six-figure audiences were not uncommon on race days during 2015. Five circuits claimed a Sunday attendance of at least 100,000.
Unsurprisingly it was Silverstone, the nearest circuit to most of the teams and the home of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, which reported the biggest race day crowd. And as Silverstone’s 140,000 fans got to see one of year’s better races and one which ended in a home victory, the circuit should be confident of another strong showing this year.
The return of grand prix racing to Mexico, a country which had two previous stints on the world championship calendar, proved enormously popular. Nearly 135,000 fans turned up to see Nico Rosberg win the first Mexican Grand Prix in 23 years.
While a new or returning race can expect a big crowd in its first season, ‘second-year syndrome’ is a real problem. The Red Bull Ring saw at least 20% fewer fans in 2015 compared to 2014, which was its first race in over a decade. And in 2015 it did not have the nearby German Grand Prix to compete with – that race will be back this year and those involved will be hoping for a much stronger crowd following its year away.
Away from F1’s heritage events, the audiences for the Bahrain and Malaysian Grands Prix demonstrate how Bernie Ecclestone’s attempts to establish the sport in new venues has been far from an unqualified success.
Civil unrest in Bahrain led to an increase in security at the race which inevitably deterred some from attending, though audiences at this race were always among the smallest. Just 32,000 were present for its 11th grand prix last year. To put that into perspective, the last round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch was attended by 42,000 people.
And yet the bar will probably be lowered further this year when Azerbaijan holds its first F1 race. Just 28,000 tickets have been made available for the European Grand Prix at Baku City Cirucit.
As with all statistics, these figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Circuits themselves record the number of fans passing through their gates which inevitably provokes scepticism over the accuracy of their figures. The thousands of circuit workers and staff who attend each race may be used to inflate figures. And at street circuits like Monaco and Singapore there will likely be many of people watching from overlooking buildings who do not count towards the attendance figures.
Race day trends at three grands prix
It’s an unfortunate fact of Formula One that merely being well-attended is not enough for a race to keep its place on the calendar. So many races are now subsidised by governments that promoters cannot expect to cover the hosting fees Ecclestone demands by selling tickets.
A case in point is the United States Grand Prix, which returned to the F1 calendar in 2012 at the newly-built Circuit of the Americas. Despite having had over a hundred thousands fans on race day on each of the four occasions so far, it emerged last year the promoters had fallen behind on their payments to Ecclestone.
As the graph above shows, race day attendance at COTA has been sliding since its first race and has not yet stabilised. The circuit owners will be hoping last year’s combined problems of persistent rain plus fewer Mexican fans due to the competition from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez meant some of the decline was temporary. However the real threat to the future of the race is whether the local government continues to support it.
Data sources: Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Austria, Britain, Russia, USA, Mexico, Abu Dhabi. All others obtained from respective circuits. The Canadian Grand Prix promoter declined to supply attendance details. The Belgian, Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix promoters did not respond to enquiries.
Over to you
Which races on the 2016 F1 calendar do you most want to visit? Have your say here:
Did you attend a race last year – and will you be going to one this year? Why do you think some races are better attended than others? Have your say in the comments.
2015 F1 season
- How a secret Mercedes engine mode helped pressure Vettel into a race-ending puncture
- Over 100 driver penalties issued in record-breaking 2015
- Part-time racer? The facts of Hamilton’s ‘jet-set lifestyle’
- A unique atmosphere: Going to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza
- The Complete F1 Fanatic 2015 season review
78 comments on “What race attendance figures tell us about the state of F1”
15th February 2016, 13:24
So how these attendance figures compare to previous seasons? Comparison is there for British, Spanish and US GP’s but what about the rest of the calendar?
Anyway, TV viewing figures can’t be used to determine the state of F1. So many people stream the races online these days that TV figures are completely irrelevant.
15th February 2016, 16:03
Arent those figures included in TV views? Its the TV companies that streams the races after all.
15th February 2016, 16:28
Illegal streaming surely isn’t counted. And at least in my country TV figures and legal streaming figures are often separated when they make the news.
15th February 2016, 19:15
TV viewing figures are irrelevant at all.
TV views are what bring sponsors in, ever since pay per view races the figures have naturally gone down and I’m amazed how little people make the connection between that an less sponsors.
Why would a sponsor pay the same £££ for less exposure its a no brainer. Sponsors want the casual viewer who might pay attention to whats on the car, us fanatics don’t care who sponsors it. All we care about is Tyre compounds and ride heights. But sadly for the sponsor the casual viewer basically doesn’t exist anymore as he or she will not pay for it.
15th February 2016, 20:53
I completely agree. F1 is becoming more and more a spectacle for the die hard fans and less for the casual viewer. If pay per view is really the future for F1(which seems to be the case), then its future is not at all bright.
15th February 2016, 22:06
Very correct about less sponsors and lower tv figures..
BUT, sponsors do get different exposure with sites like these and the whole ‘new’ media
that teams utilize.
The times are changing and F1 has to realize it and embrace it more.
16th February 2016, 11:34
It’s definitely true that reduced TV viewing figures reduces sponsorship value.
However, I remember reading that it is not proportional when it comes to a switch to Pay TV. The reason being that people who can’t afford the Pay TV are often those who couldn’t afford to buy the products being advertised, so some of the drop in viewing figures doesn’t impact the sponsors.
It seems to make sense, although I don’t know enough about the evils of marketing to comment further.
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
15th February 2016, 16:27
There are statistical ways to get an idea of a probable viewing audience. While they say the world wide viewing audiences are in the millions, it should be in the hundreds of millions.
One point not made is if there is a relationship between Free to Air coverage and track attendances. I didn’t have time to do a complete study, but as far as I can tell Australia, the UK and USA had partial Free to Air coverage and excellent attendances, and yet Austria, China, Hungary, which also have similar or better Free to Air broadcasting arrangements, had worse attendances.
15th February 2016, 18:16
@huhhii, some circuits have released long term figures, with the Australian GP having done so for over a decade. The figures from Australia have bounced around between around 300,000 and 320,000, with recent figures broadly indicating a slight upward trend in attendance figures over the past few years.
24th October 2016, 19:04
The streaming sites always say how many viewers are there are and there aren’t many for F1 in America. I am the only one in my group of friends that tunes on on occasion. Not much excitement in America for F1.
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)
15th February 2016, 13:32
It would be highly interesting to compare F1’s attendance figures to other categories, especially series which are on the world stage such as MotoGP, which seems to have rammed stands and tends to embrace the amount of people who turn up to their events.
Some of these attendance figures are simply dire. I’m not sure whether it is through a lack of promotion, ticket prices, F1’s pathetic gimmicky display on the track or what, but to have less than 50,000 on raceday at a number of purpose-built tracks is just baffling.
15th February 2016, 19:17
Moto GP tend to go to countries that care about their sport. And if they really really really care they will go their 2 or 3 times!!
16th February 2016, 3:20
Moto GP had an average attendance over 120,000/weekend. But they did go to Qatar (for the money) and I think less than 4000 people turned up….
19th August 2016, 7:45
Hmmm F1 doesnt go anywhere for money though ? China ? Monaco ? Singapore? Russia ? Bahrain ? 17,000 turned up at Qatar which is admitedly poor but its bigger in Europe than it is in the rest of the World. Austria 215000 for the weekend and 85000 on race day ! When you look at the British rounds, £85 for a weekend ticket and £125 for F1 i know which id choose personally.
16th February 2016, 11:45
Aren’t MotoGP tickets about 20 percent of the price of F1 GP?
$80 USD versus $450 USD makes a great deal of difference to many potential live spectators.
In the last season, excellent 3- and 4-day tickets for other notable motorsport events were to be had for $95 USD (Daytona Rolex 24); $100 (Fuji WEC); $110 (Sebring 12); and $35 (IMSA VIR). Most of those events are open grandstands.
The value for money on F1 attendance is quite low by comparison.
Adam Blocker (@blockwall2)
15th February 2016, 13:48
Montréal didn’t supply their data but, as a spectator there last year, I tell you guys that every grandstand was packed. General Admission was 3-5 rows deep and the Popular Grandstand (where I was) actually had more people than seats (bad on the organizers part).
Captain Pie (@captainpie)
15th February 2016, 15:23
Montreal, Silverstone, Spa, Australia and Monaco are a few tracks pretty much guaranteed to be packed. Spanish is probably dependant on how Alonso is doing, maybe Sainz can reignite the passion there?
This was always going to happen when Bernie decided to go chasing developing countries because he knew he could fleece them for big money. I think CVC needs to step back and look objectively at getting not just an initial payout and then massively diminishing returns, but properly build a calendar tailored towards the fans, growing markets for motorsport etc. NOT rich countries who just want the kudos of an F1 or distraction for the populace (contentious, I know!)
15th February 2016, 17:40
What surprises me is Monza’s low attendance. Do they all sneak through the fence or something?
15th February 2016, 18:38
f1 tickets at monza are very costly, but the italian population isn’t rich at all. that’s why it is not packed.
15th February 2016, 19:14
Don’t be surprised with the considerably low turnout at Monza. Sport attendance/spectatorship in Italy has been in decline for over a decade. As wages spiraled downwards in Italy and prices went up, activities Italians regarded as past-times such as attending sporting events became a thing of choice. For example, have a look at stadium grand stands during football matches. One can say that the general Italian public, apart from the multi-millionaires have not indeed fared well after the abandonment of the lire in place of the Euro.
Come to think of it, the recent news on the possibility of loosing Monza GP and the not-so-loud objections/uproar coming from Italian fans, irrespective of their well known motorsport heritage, is something I find worrying.
15th February 2016, 21:56
Contentious it is…but you are dead right ! It cheers me not at all to relate that when I talk
to people who have only passing interest in F1 and try to explain to them how this whole
F1 gig is run, they virtually always react with words like, ‘ well if it’s so badly run and general
interest is going down, what sort of future does F1 have ?’
To which I reply…….’good question ! ‘
15th February 2016, 15:51
I’ve been to Montreal for the race many times and every session saw packed grandstands. Few races can claim that as we usually see empty seats during the practice sessions at most Grand Prix. Combine the incredible effort the the city puts out to ensure the visitors have a good time, with poutine and a circuit layout that usually gives good on track action and Montreal will always be my first choice.
15th February 2016, 17:37
I’ve attended the Montreal race many times — 20th anniversary of my first race is this year.
The grandstands are always packed, but the number and size of the grandstands changes. The ones at the Senna S and the hairpin have less rows than they did when Jacques Villeneuve was world champion and attendance at it’s peak with over 120000 race-day attendance. There was even a grandstand directly across from the parc ferme where Jean Alesi threw his helmet after his last race.
16th February 2016, 11:58
Montreal Circuit G.V. has packed $450 grandstands because the $135 general admission tickets afford very poor viewing (believe me, I’ve walked the entire circuit looking for good viewing spots).
I’ve tried for two years to obtain the 3-day selection of a different grandstand each day, but there are elusive and only on sale for a very limited and unannounced (2 weeks?) period of time. One might think that the organizers would understand the reason behind the quick sellout of those tickets (e.g., that’s what attendees want?).
Granted, access to the venue from anywhere in or near Montreal is excellent and – aside from seating and ticketing – it’s a nice circuit.
I have a recurring fantasy that the Watkins Glen repave will bring back Formula 1 to the US northeast. But it’s highly unlikely for many reasons.
R.J. O'Connell (@rjoconnell)
15th February 2016, 14:10
And even with attendance down this year, Austin still drew the fourth-largest crowds on race day and over a 3-day weekend.
16th February 2016, 12:36
You’re correct, R.J., and the fact that hardly anyone showed up on Saturday should show the naysayers that F1 IS popular in America despite all the negative reporting about the Mexican race taking away patrons.
15th February 2016, 14:14
While Bahrain attendance is the smallest of the published figures, isn’t it very small capacity as well? Unlike in Malaysia where big part of the capacity is empty.
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
15th February 2016, 15:23
@bleu I was thinking the same. Shangai and Sepang have enormous grandstands which are always empty but Bahrain doesn’t have many… it’s also a small country anyway, and the political and social situation there isn’t the best incentive for higher number of spectators.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
15th February 2016, 16:29
@bleu @fer-no65 Bahrain has an attendance capacity of 50,000.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
15th February 2016, 16:40
And to add to that Shanghai can hold 200,000+, Sepang can hold something like 150,000.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
14th September 2016, 9:37
It’s small, but it’s not that small. Bahrain’s main problem at the moment is that it only seems to be able to get people to buy Sunday tickets. They don’t bother with Friday or Saturday ones. Abu Dhabi has the same issue and it used to be the same in Turkey before they moved it to clash with university finals, which to me indicates that it’s a regional issue rather than a single-track one.
15th February 2016, 14:35
I know it’s apples and oranges this comparison but where I live in Glasgow, Scotland Rangers football club get attendances of nearly 50,000 every home matchday. For those (99% of you) who are unfamiliar with Rangers, the club were demoted to the fourth tier of Scottish football 3 years ago and are now in the second tier. Considering the top tier is woefully poor it can be argued fans attend due to blind allegiance as opposed to entertainment value but it does beg the question: why are F1’s attendances so shockingly low? Distance to the circuit is naturally one aspect, temperature when there regarding shade etc another. One surefire reason is that the sport goes to areas with no fans but deep pockets and tells us it’s to improve the areas knowledge and love of the sport. How many years were India given when the money dried up? 0. There is no desire to improve anything other than profit.
But look at the areas with longstanding F1 traditions. Italy, Spain and Hungary (they’ve had the race 30 years now) and attendances could comfortably double. Not to mention Germany who don’t get a race. The reason for this is price. Attending the British GP is very expensive. We have great figures but are still charges around £300 for a weekend grandstand seat. That’s a good amount of money in anyone’s book and doesn’t cover travel or accommodation. For many fans that prices them out. General admission is cheaper and it should not be free but we should encourage as many people as possible to come. With the sport suffering massive image problems it would look a lot better with 150,000 at each race. But because of agreements with Bernie the circuits are going as low as they can and it’s still too much. If the sport was cheaper I’d like to attend 2 or 3 races a season rather than one on my current budget which is a shame given I have football down the road for buttons in comparison.
Euro Brun (@eurobrun)
16th February 2016, 7:44
It’s a fair comparison. I can get a season ticket for my club (the mighty Halifax Town!) for the price of a Silverstone weekend ticket. Add to that the fact that the missus has no interest in football, but would love to come to the F1 and I’d be very poor!
BTTC is good enough for our live motorsport fix.
15th February 2016, 15:39
Honestly you can blame the economy, you can blame competition of other good sunday practices, and you can blame the decrease in wow factor by the cars. I don’t think race attendance should be correlated with viewing figures as the race weekend act as a novelty, for instances who hasn’t gone to a concert of an unknown band? It’s an “event” people want to attend “events”.
15th February 2016, 15:47
I strongly feel like there’s some very very hard, grinding background work behind this article so all content aside, you deserve a big congrats for that reason alone, Keith.
15th February 2016, 15:50
Silverstone if I remember rightly was far from a sell out.They had to do a special promotion of cheap tickets in the weeks running up to the race aimed at Lewis Hamilton fans.
sonia luff (@sonia54)
17th February 2016, 17:58
I was at Silverstone on the Saturday and race day tickets were still available to buy at kiosks. It’s the first time i’ve ever seen race day tickets being sold. We had people coming up to us asking if we wanted to buy some.
Mark in Florida
15th February 2016, 15:52
To me it shows just how greedy Bernie is. When your attendance figures are still over 100,000. and the promoters are ready to drop hosting the race because they can’t make any money. The promoter can’t use any race clips or images on the internet to generate any race day interest. Bernie has the system rigged completely in his favor all to the deficit of the sport as a whole. The ticket prices for COTA are ridiculous general admission was 200 dollars grandstand was 700. This is not including the over inflated hotel costs. My brother and I decided not to go last year because of the cost and the long drive it would entail. We are going with our wives to the St. Pete grand prix this year. Tickets are only 75 dollars for the grandstand seats on turn 10 at the marina coming out of the kink one of the most beautiful and incident prone parts of the track. The venue is world class there are helpful hosts all over the track to guide you around. The drivers are accessible and the car’s are easy to see no top secret access required. IndyCar uses all the social media and print to promote their races. F1 might be the pinnacle of motorsports but resting on how great you used to be means that you are going backwards not forward. Other motorsports are taking away money and fans simply by putting on a good show and making the fans feel appreciated. F1 better wake up the fans are voting with their feet.
15th February 2016, 16:05
Agreed, pinacle of motosport yes.
Pinacle of promotion No.
You can do just about any event imaginable cheaper than a GP.
And promotion, there is none.
It just isnt cost effective.
15th February 2016, 17:57
Bernie is just an opportunist who likes to make business deals. It’s his employer CVC who are greedy and continue to rape the sport. You see, they are results-people- the only thing they care about at the end of the day is how much money they can squeeze out of F1.
John H (@john-h)
16th February 2016, 0:07
What amazes me is that he always has takers. I mean, do they not do any research before launching into these projects? There is a history of venues that have fallen for the same trap, and end up in financial difficulty as a result.
Also, build smaller tracks. Why does the COTA have to be so long for example? Smaller circuits like Hungary or A1 ring are just fine, cheaper to maintain and the fans get to see the cars more often too… just make sure we keep Spa and Monza on the calendar as well for variety.
16th February 2016, 12:18
@MarkInFlorida “F1 might be the pinnacle of motorsports….” Having been to multiple IMSA and WEC events (no IndyCar though), I’d sadly have to conclude that F1’s claim to “the pinnacle” is becoming less and less true every year.
If we’re talking about pure motorsport racing, I’d have to give the “pinnacle of motorsports” title to Le Mans and/or Dakar. Granted F1 has some high-priced engineering (although not as innovative as some would claim), but as a racing fan and track rat I’m much more interested in driver performance and competition on the track.
Formula 1, because it’s now manufacturer- and marketing-driven, seems to have forgotten that IMO, or at least has moved it down on the priorities list.
16th February 2016, 15:48
the “pinnacle” of motorsport is a tired old moniker for F1, the only thing it has over other series is the speed over 1 lap, but that is all in regulations, as for atmosphere, racing content etc, F1 is getting worse and worse, ie the number of overtakes in the last 5 years has halved, and the sound and speed has gone down. people are looking at alternatives to the previous monopoly and finding that there are better racing series around the world, even f1 drivers themselves are now interesting in other series, with about 5 publicly stating they want to do the le mans 24 hours, and Mark Webber quitting F1 for WEC.
15th February 2016, 16:03
So COTA is about to be left out while “exotic races” keep showing up? Apparently Baku race will happen this year but next year is a very long shot if their financier: Mr Oil Price, keeps it’s current mood.
15th February 2016, 17:15
Maybe new hybrid dollars will start funding F1 races….
16th February 2016, 15:50
what do you want? this is F1, please understand how it is run, it is money driven and not nostalgia driven, and certainly not “sport” driven
15th February 2016, 16:38
Firstly, I must say well done Keith must have taken some digging around to get these figures.
That being said these figures don’t show the true state of play. China did pull in 125,000 attendees for race day but that in actual fact is a pathetic turnout giving its capacity is 200,000. That’s puts it at about 62.5% of total capacity. That was also with one of the cheapest ticket prices of all last season, about 22.5% of that of Silverstone. So despite looking good in terms of pure figures, in reality it was pretty poor.
Spain on the other hand who only had 86,700 attendees on race day. Managed a much better capacity figure of 81% and with higher ticket prices probably made more than China in terms of revenue.
The British grand prix for anyone that is interested was at 93% of capacity, despite having the highest ticket prices of any grand prix last year.
15th February 2016, 16:41
** Fact Check: Sorry Silverstone had the second highest ticket prices last year, behind Abu Dhabi**
16th February 2016, 15:59
if you are going to analyze country vs country, then analyze every aspect, like peoples income, how much promotion was done, what is the culture of that country for following the sport, and even where the race track is located. please realize Britain has world champion famous drivers in the race, while China has no drivers in F1. comparing % of attendance to capacity is pointless as every track is positioned in different locations, not in an exact “local” of a every city, so there is no chance of a fair comparison. – the total attendance is a better reference, but sill not accurate, also please consider how much advertisement/promotion money is being given in each country, for many tracks they don’t need to aim for the high crowds because of the other investment coming in, and as such advertisement levels might be less.
15th February 2016, 16:48
Silverstone have got it right. £250-ish for five nights of camping, plus three days of GA on-track action. I did that with three mates in 2013 and 2014. Try booking a holiday in Europe for a similar length of time at the same cost! Look at it like a holiday and suddenly it starts making sense. You compare it to a Premier League ticket for 90 minutes of action, and yeah it’s ludicrously over-priced. But that’s looking at it from the wrong angle. Alternatively, compare the cost to a three-day camping ticket to any large music festival – Glastonbury, Download, etc. and it comes out much more cost-effective. The product has changed – it’s not 1976 anymore, where you turn up in your Ford Escort, park on the grass overlooking the Brands paddock and munch on a cucumber sandwich to the noise of DFVs. If it’s just a day out at the races that you’re after, forget the F1 and go and see the BTCC for £30-£40 each. That’s why they pull 42,000 for the season finale. To watch F1 you have to go all-in and make a big commitment, just as you would going to Glastonbury. That’s just the way it is now, and many people aren’t prepared to do that.
15th February 2016, 17:39
Yup, that’s why you’ll find me at the BTCC/WEC rather than F1. I’m not one for crowds anyway.
15th February 2016, 19:14
@andreamoda Last year I visited the British GP and the Abu Dhabi GP, I am from Belgium. This year I’ll be visiting Spa over 7 times, Zolder twice and making plans to go the WRX at Mettet too. I’m nowhere near the budget I needed for my Silverstone trip.
16th February 2016, 12:27
I did Fuji WEC this year. The excellent open seating for two people, and two 100km return train tickets to/from Tokyo (for two days) equaled the price of ONE single grandstand seat at an F1 event.
And the racing was completely awesome in every way.
16th February 2016, 16:01
we need more people like you to speek up.. too many believe that f1=best motorsport, because of the “1”.
15th February 2016, 17:32
My plan is to go to the Abu Dhabi GP next November.
15th February 2016, 19:12
The track is terrible but if you look at it as an event it’s among my top 5 GP visits. Make sure to bring your own food, water and quickly learn how the bus drives. Also I advise tickets that allow you on the Yas-hill.
15th February 2016, 17:53
I rue the day Bahrain will finally be gone from the calendar. Sure, the 2014 race was great and last year wasn’t too bad either- but the whole race itself is just a complete disgrace- in terms of what it stands for and how it outlines a lot of things wrong with today’s F1. Look at those attendance figures- it doesn’t take a genius to realize who and why that race is put on for.
15th February 2016, 21:23
Rue means to regret bitterly. So either you’ve chosen the wrong word or constructed the sentence poorly.
17th February 2016, 0:02
Uhhhh. How embarrassing. Thank you for pointing that out, I meant “I cannot wait for the day”.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
15th February 2016, 21:42
Bahrain has one of the smallest capacity’s of any circuit of the F1 calendar so the 32,000 figure is actually more than half of what the place holds.
Seeing total attendance is nice but it should really be put against the total capacity of the venue.
For example Monza’s total capacity is somewhere around 110,000, Last year’s attendance was 80,000 which means the place was somewhere around 70% full, Thats only something like 3% more than Bahrain.
Hungary had 73,000 fans in last year but the place can hold 120,000 so it was only around 61% full.
16th February 2016, 16:03
If sports like Cricket and Australian Rules Football can get 100% full crowds it shows how wrong F1 has got it… too expensive and not even entertainment.
17th February 2016, 0:05
Really? Only that many people capacity? Well, that only strengthens my point about it being a race for the elite.
17th February 2016, 0:07
And I don’t entirely agree about total attendance against total capacity of the venue. When both those figures are that low (in comparison to the other venues), attendance becomes irrelevant.
15th February 2016, 19:10
I still read this as ‘The price is high but there is still plenty of demand’. This means that the ‘hardcore’ fanbase of F1 in general is still quite healthy. Besides I think it is interesting to point out that Brits/Belgians/Dutchmen/Germans/(Spaniard) probably are among the richest fans in the world and thus are the people who are likely to travel the world for a GP. I don’t think you’ll find a Brazilian die-hard fan at a GP in Europe whilst I had lots of talks and beers with Europeans in Dubai.
15th February 2016, 19:23
They wonder why people don’t turn up when its stupidly expensive!
Cut the prices & get the people in and they will spend money! or better still perhaps keep the adult prices the same and do what brands hatch did for the WSBK in the 90s and make kids entrance a £1. The adults WILL bring their kids, they will buy something and the kid will become a fan and he/she will then want to go every year. Then before you know it he is an adult pay full dollar for him and his family.
Pretty simple when you think about it.
15th February 2016, 21:21
Seems the British really like the quieter engines.. ;)
17th February 2016, 0:11
I think what F1 really needs to do with this 1.6L hybrid formula is to allow different types of engines of that capacity, not just 90 degree V6’s, so that the cars would sound different. In-line, boxer, rotary and V8 engines should also be allowed- that would attract a few more manufacturers.
15th February 2016, 23:53
Simpy because it isn’t as exciting watching the races live as the experience is not as good as it used to be in the V8 era.
The Australia GP had a special offer for buy one get one free ticket deal that ended last night and that is the only reason why I am attending this year.
16th February 2016, 12:21
Right, because the Formula H(ybrid) version of F1 literally does not and cannot resonate with a live spectator audience. MGU-H sounds awful.
16th February 2016, 3:14
Was expecting more from Austria and Monza especially compared to Sochi.
Honestly as an Australian I have not gone to the race live in the last two years due to the switch to Pay TV and have chosen to divert the funds to that so I can watch every session live in HD.
16th February 2016, 9:09
Great analyse! Can we get some figures on tickets sold / tickets offered ratio, so we see which places are packed on race-day? (My guess is Monaco has the highest ratio)
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
16th February 2016, 10:50
I find it interesting that seven circuits did not release any attendance figures at all. A decade ago, every track except Monaco would have done so (it gave up long before then, realising it’s kind of difficult to count how many people are on a packed balcony…), even if the figures were unappealling. It would be interesting to know what that says about Canada, Belgium, Singapore, Japan and Brazil.
Britain is in an unusual situation: it’s been at, or almost at capacity since 2007 (bad promotion permitting – who thought it was a bright idea to make the initial ticket offering a loan arrangement? In a nation with huge personal debt issues?!?). The reason the figures keep rising is that ever 2-3 years, the BRDC gets permission from the police to increase the maximum attendance (the low point was during the first half of the 2000s, when the foot-in-mouth outbreak of 2001 (that reduced tickets available to 60,000) gave the police excuse to limit the maximum audience until the BRDC could prove it could manage traffic well enough to avoid those legendary 14-mile motorway tailbacks of the 1990s (when the maximum audience was 120,000). Between the BRDC proving itself capable of managing more people and Hamilton’s arrival on the scene, the limit has gradually risen. So the maximum number willing to watch at Silverstone could have been falling, rising or staying still for the last five years and nobody would know because it’s yet to cross the limit of people the police can accept being on the roads in that rather rural area simultaneously. The costs of attending don’t make sense for me as I cannot sleep in a campsite, and non-camping accommodation in Silverstone is remarkably expensive – that, and the fact some of my friends had the same realisation, is why I do the WEC race there instead (and, this year, the WTCC in Hungary).
Italy’s ticket situation is complicated (as may be other venues in similar settings) as it’s in a park and there has long been a (small) section of the public who consider getting in free to be a challenge to be overcome rather than a good reason to buy a ticket. It is unclear if this segment has risen as the paying audience has fallen, but either way it is of no help to the race promoters and they are not included in the figures.
Austria in 2014 benefitted from being new, and lost out last year to Red Bull’s on-track behaviour (when the boss of a team owns a circuit, not attending their race can seem like a good way for a casual fan to make their ire known).
Raw price is only of limited utility, since each country’s local crowd has a massively different purchasing power. Transport is relatively cheap in much of Europe, and accommodation (for camping fans) is cheap in Britain. Some Asian countries have much richer local fans than others (Malaysia and China have to have cheap tickets if they don’t want audiences to be nearly-entirely foreign). Abu Dhabi simply isn’t big enough, as an emirate, to rely on local audiences to fill its stands (small as they are) – hence the pricing is to attract the segment of the regional crowd Bahrain doesn’t aim for (the very wealthy).
16th February 2016, 12:43
I just don’t read very much about the world economy here and I think that’s the huge reason why attendance may seem low.
Take a look at NASCAR here in America. The attendance levels have been going down for years. Bubba just can’t afford to go to the races anymore and if it’s tough to even half way fill the stands for a NASCAR event, it has to be tough for a Strapped F1 promoter to make any real money.
A few have said it here and I’ll pile on, too. Bernie needs to re-think the entire picture and allow the promoters a chance to make some money so they don’t have to charge so much for tickets.
14th September 2016, 7:01
I agree the world economy has had a terrible downturn. With F1 on pay per view in South Africa, I know also have access to races like Nascar and Indycar which I would never have seen otherwise, that has changed my perspective a bit. I have also gone for a better internet service and now I can watch a lot more other races too. What it leads to, is that I was saving the money I’m now spending on watching and gaming and all that, when last year I went overseas. Now, that is no longer an option. Yes, I’m posting this in September so I’ve had different view than maybe it was in February.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
7th February 2017, 15:46
The Canadian Grand Prix organisers have now supplied information on their 2015 race attendance which has been retrospectively added to this article.
25th March 2017, 0:24
I can only speak for my self and quote people I have spoken to about the drop in popularity in recent years but, for me, F1 lost its appeal when the engines were dramatically downsized and rev-limited in 2014. I live close the the Albert Park circuit and I absolutely loved the sound of the Pre-2014 F1’s. The scream of the F1 was very much a part of the appeal. I attended the 2015 Australian GP at Albert Park and was really unimpressed. The F1 cars sound more like gardening tools. I was instantly turned off. I got more enjoyment from the V8 Supercars and all the other entertainment that goes on at, and around, the event. As i mentioned, people i have spoken to also feel the same way. That is, the GP has lost a very big peice of its appeal by heavily softening down the cars. Pre-2014, the noise was delightfully deafening from inside my house in Albert Park. Now? Its sounds more like old george down the street is trimming his hedges with an electric brush-cutter. Bring back the V8/V10 engines and put some roar and life back into the sport. Let people know that the GP is in town.
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21st October 2017, 22:42
I did not read every reply but altho I AM NOT A BETTING MAN, I would stick my wallet out there for 2 things I KNOW TO BE TRUE! F1 has 2 major problems. 1st and foremost,
(A DECENT SEAT) TICKETS ARE ridiculously to expensive.
And these hybrid power units sound pathetic! 90% or more of the status quo CAN’T AFFORD A DECENT ticket and race fans want to HEAR the cars! Fix those 2 things and venues wud sell out! R.Davis/ LA, CA
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