Formula 1 priced out the U.S. fanbase quicker than they gained it

May 8, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands races during the Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
May 8, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands races during the Miami Grand Prix at Miami International Autodrome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s no secret that Formula 1 has boomed in the United States over the past few years. Their efforts to squeeze every penny out of U.S. fans has gone more under the radar.

The popularity of Formula 1 in the Unted States is nothing new. The world championship has been racing here since the 1950s, and only four countries have hosted more grands prix.

Recently, the international series has not simply been popular stateside; it has been booming. It has been trendy. PacSun has begun selling Formula 1-licensed apparel and Abercrombie shelves are stocked with McLaren t-shirts. It’s tough to go anywhere without seeing someone wearing some form of Formula 1 gear.

The trend isn’t just a fashion statement. Formula 1 television viewership in the U.S. has set records in each of the past two seasons. ESPN saw its record of 949,000 average viewers per race in 2021 grow by 28% to an average of 1.21 million viewers through the 2022 season.

As television viewership has grown, the number annual of races held in the U.S. has quickly expanded. With last year’s addition of the Miami Grand Prix, 2022 marked the first year since 1982 that multiple races were held in the U.S. The Miami Grand Prix joined the United States Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

This year, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is the third U.S. race on the calendar, making the U.S. the only country hosting that many races.

But it’s not all roses for Formula 1 fans. As popularity has skyrocketed, so has the price of catching a race live.

We’ll start with this weekend’s race — the Miami Grand Prix. Year one was big. The venue that touted a yacht club and marina quickly turned into an influencer’s paradise. Presale tickets were starting at about $1,200 for all three days, and race day tickets only got as low as $800 on the secondary market.

The racing quickly took a backseat to the scenic setup and overpriced bottled water. Drivers were not happy with the track layout, as it was too tight in several places, and they voiced those concerns after the weekend.

It was the first year of the event, so the track was never going to be perfect. With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event, the racing felt neglected.

This year, it’s largely the same layout in Miami, but with some minimal space increases for tighter corners in the hopes that there will be better opportunities for passing.

Ticket prices haven’t changed much, as presale three-day tickets were starting at $1,300 and race day general admission tickets are currently sitting at $550 on the secondary market.

Hopefully residual effects from the flooding last month will not cause further unhappiness with the track.

The United States Grand Prix has become a staple on the F1 calendar. The event’s first year as part of the world championship was 1959. After bouncing between several different venues around the country, COTA has housed the race weekend since it opened in 2012.

COTA has become a haven for both fans and drivers. Drivers have grown to enjoy the annual trip to Austin, as a balance been racing and partying has been struck. Attendance records have been broken the past two years, and 2023 shouldn’t be any different.

Naturally, the price has jumped at COTA as well. While it’s not quite the spectacle Miami is, plenty of celebrities find their way into the paddock. For fans, a general admission ticket in 2021 could be had for around $150 before the race. That price jumped to $235 in 2022 and topped out at $400 on the secondary market. Right now, a three-day ticket can be had for $640, after fees.

Enter Sin City.

If Miami is a party, then Saturday, November 18 will be something to marvel at. Las Vegas is set to host its first grand prix since 1982. If the event is anything like initial renderings, it will be quite the site to see.

Construction for the paddock and track will cost just north of $500 million, but Liberty Media aren’t concerned about making that money back. There’s no reason for them to be worried at all.

Presale tickets for a four-day grandstand seat were going for $2,000. General admission tickets have been released in the past few months, and a single race day ticket currently sits at about $1,600.

After flights, hotels (especially if you want to be on the strip), and of course, gambling, a weekend trip for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix costs nothing short of a small fortune.

I’m sure once you’re in the gates, a hot dog will go for a fair price. They’ll get you on the mustard though.

Next. All-time Formula 1 wins list. dark

This weekend’s Miami Grand Prix is the first of the three events in the states this year, while the other two are scheduled to take place in the fall. Lights out this Sunday is set for 3:30 p.m. ET, with ESPN set to provide live coverage from Miami International Autodrome. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now!