The start of the Formula One season has been a long time coming. Already it is the most watched sport in the world – 500 million TV viewers annually – but this year F1 is attracting more newsprint than ever, largely due to the introduction of radical new regulations.
The past decade has seen radical changes to Formula One, the move into Asia and the fees that emerging market countries are willing to pay to host a F1 Grand Prix – $60 million for Singapore, and $66.9 million for Malaysia compared to Monaco who don’t pay a penny – has helped double the F1 Groups fortunes to revenues of over $1.6bn.
In addition a whole industry of corporate hospitality and VIP exclusivity has grown up around this boom estimated to be worth $250 million in its own right.
So what does all this mean if you actually want to go along to Grand Prix? What are your options as a spectator?
And critically with all that bling buzzing about what do you wear?
Entry Level Punter – British Grand Prix, Silverstone
Say you’ve never been to Formula One before and you want a grandstand view from which you can hear the engines roar – which you certainly will because as an entry level punter there are no courtesy ear plugs in your package – then you can purchase a 3 day ticket for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone 3rd – 6th July, from £170pp, with roving grandstand access.
Sounds not too bad. The Kaiser Chiefs – one hit wonder band of ‘I Predict A Riot,’ fame, or, ‘Indie rock super group,’ depending on your perspective – will be there on the Thursday evening for an additional £35pp. And you can camp in the Woodlands area of Silverstone for a similar amount and experience the luxury of ‘flushing toilets’ and the promise of ‘up-tempo’ entertainment.
It might not even rain. And if we queued long enough for one of the hot showers, scrubbed up and followed Debretts advice on F1 Etiquette we might just feel we were part of one of the world’s most glamorous sporting events.
What to wear to the British Grand Prix
Middle Gear – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
Moving more towards our comfort zone, a quick visit to Google and a skip across the keyboard led us to a company called Grand Prix Events selling packages to the Spanish Grand Prix with Formula One Paddock Club access.
Now you’re talking.
A two-day pass to F1 VIP land including a privileged viewing position, exclusive VIP access to the Pit area with scheduled Pit Lane walks described by the F1 organisers as:
“ ….a chance to mingle with all the famous faces of Formula One™ and see for themselves what goes on behind the scenes in a Grand Prix garage. This is where the driver and his team make their final preparations for the race. You may even see one of the teams practise their pit-stop routine. No television coverage can compare with this exceptional, almost surreal experience.”
Plus an open champagne bar and the aforementioned courtesy earplugs in case the sound of the engines interrupts your enjoyment of the gourmet lunch and the fine wines. No mention of flushing toilets but we assume these are included.
We feel quite sure that committed petrol heads will consider the £2,590 ticket price for the Saturday and Sunday money well spent.
What to Wear to the Formula One Paddock Club
Full On F1 – Amber Lounge, Monaco
So far we’ve stayed within the realms of the extravagant, but the Amber Lounge concept ushers you noisily into the celeb filled inside track of F1.
Not only can you expect all the bling, bells and whistles of the Paddock Club but also your own ‘trackside race viewing celebrity yacht’ – we had no idea a yacht could be a celebrity but then what would we know, and the idea of bobbing in Monaco marina whilst the chaps whizz by in their cars does have its appeal.
Of course you’ll be sipping champagne and then floating fuzzily to the Amber Lounge Fashion Show with F1 Drivers and WAGS – all for charity, of course and then as they describe it, “the atmosphere around you seamlessly transforms (that’ll be the champagne) from dinner to dancing.” And you’re now part of the uber-exclusive after party set, shimmying away to ‘international DJ sets’ in the company of Amber Lounge’s ‘friends’ who include: Bono, David Beckham, Kylie Minogue, Jeremy Clarkson and no less than three Tamaras, one of whom at least, is an Ecclestone.
It’s all the brainchild of Eddie Irvine’s sister Sonia Irvine, a chance to rub shoulders – really just shoulders – with the grid girls and indulge in a little of the F1 playboy lifestyle. Happening in Monaco, Singapore, Austin and Abu Dhabi.
Weekend prices on an enquiry basis. Yacht hospitality and race viewing for the weekend £3,950. No mention of flushing toilets though…..
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