What F1 can do for younger fans.
By George Ferreira
It is often said that you cannot beat a live experience and that is the case when it comes to watching sports. Other sports like football, darts and Rugby have a wide range of ticket prices for fans looking to attend a live event however when it comes to F1 it is safe to say it is not the most affordable sport for fans especially younger fans to attend. F1 may never admit this but the sport requires younger fans to attend and get involved as these are the customers in the long term that will generate income to the sport. So, what can F1 do to attract younger fans?
Let’s talk about ticket prices the first main issue that arises for younger fans looking to attend a live event. F1 is a unique sport in which the sport is completed in over 90 minutes to a couple of hours but rather it takes place over an entire weekend from Friday to Sunday. Fans can buy a single ticket for one of these days with the cheapest usually being for practise sessions on Friday with the prices being around £100 to £200 depending on where your seated, the problem with this is that no one not even die-hard fans of the sport enjoy practise sessions. There is no competition in these sessions with them being designed for drivers to get a feel of the track for the weekend. The only time the Friday sessions are somewhat entertaining is when they count towards a drivers position in the qualifying sprint race on Saturday but that is not guaranteed to occur at every race weekend. When it comes to attending qualifying you can purchase a ticket for about £150 however it is a general ticket meaning it does not come with a seat. Instead, you can stand in a designated area or bring a foldable chair to be somewhat comfortable. Finally race day tickets, the most expensive tickets available. Ticket prices for race day change based on where you sit around the track. To sit at the famous Abbey at Silverstone which provides a view of the start/finish line along with the pitlane and garages, a ticket will set you back £500 with the Hamilton straight costing you £300 to £400 depending on if you sit on the north or south side of the straight. With tickets at these prices, you would expect to at least be offered the chance to visit the pitlane or the chance to attend the podium celebrations but no those are all additional extras you can pay for on top of your ticket.
That leads us on nicely to the extras which just increase the cost attending. You can buy access to see the pitlane and peek at the cars in their respective garages but that will cost you between £100 and £250 depending on which track you attend. People can also purchase front row spots to watch the podium celebrations at the end of the race but that in itself can cost between £80 to £150 again depending on which track you attend. If you choose to attend a whole race weekend at Silverstone but don’t have a place to stay well you can buy a glamping experience with travel to the track for £2099, and you can attend a Friday party for £250 but that will only get you through the door and a complimentary drink, your then expected to pay for any more drinks you may want.
So, what can F1 do to encourage younger fans to attend live races? Well for starters I must admit I like what Silverstone are doing by offering free tickets to anyone under the age of two, but it could be improved by increasing the age to five and then offering a child ticket at a reduced cost compared to the adult ticket much like football tickets. I also think F1 should introduce concession tickets where students and over 60s can purchase a cheaper ticket but with the same benefits of the standard priced tickets. This would encourage more students to consider buying a ticket as they would be more affordable. Another think I believe should be done is have tickets cost the same regardless of which corner/ seating area your ticket is at, I know in football tickets also change in price dependant on where you sit however whilst in football regardless of where you sit you can watch all the action at all time in F1 you will watch the action that occurs near your sitting area and are forced to look at the screens for the rest of a lap. Younger fans are more active on social media, they love to show where they are and what they are doing on social media so why not offer the pit walks in the price of the tickets as well as the front row seats for the podium celebrations, F1 could offer this with tickets that are purchased closer to the start/finish line to prevent fans who sit further away having to travel. By offering this it would encourage younger fans to attend and are able to showcase on their social media pages what they experienced which in turn could attract more fans to attend a live event, with the social media era comes FOMO (fear of missing out) if someone on Instagram sees someone being close to the cars and the garages another F1 fan may want to purchase a ticket to have the same experience. Finally, I feel that buying tickets to attend a F1 event is to similar to buying a holiday. You can go direct to the track website and purchase a ticket, or you can go through a ticket website like Ticketmaster and finally if you want to make a weekend of it you can go book via a company a package holiday which includes travel, hotel and race weekend tickets. Whilst when holiday buying this means you can save money trying to buy a F1 ticket from various ticket sale websites means that the prices are never the same. Each website can charge what they want and there is no one questioning the price differences. I believe to buy a ticket there should be the websites for each track like there is currently and then a F1 owned website that allows people to purchase tickets and add travel and hotel if needed. This would allow F1 to control ticket prices and keep them at a fair price as well as generating further income with the addition of hotel and travel extras. This system could even have a rewards programme that encourages and rewards fans for buying from them. And if F1 offered all this they would see an increase in younger fans but also happier fans.