Of course the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is sold out, they’ve only got 50,000 seats

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F1's newest track has a small capacity of just 50,000

Yesterday the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix organisers put out a press release patting themselves on the back for selling out their first Grand Prix. Several other F1 sites obligingly regurgitated it for them.

Although it’s nice to hear the phrases “F1 race” and “sold out” together for once, I think a little more attention should have been paid to how low the bar was set with just 50,000 tickets available.

If that number of fans turned up for Manchester United’s next football match more than one-third of Old Trafford’s seats would still be empty.

A typical F1 race day crowd is well in six figures – 50,000 is exceptionally modest for an international Grand Prix track.

The British Grand Prix boasted 120,000 fans on race day this year. The total three-day crowd was 310,000, yet Bernie Ecclestone calls this a race F1 can do without.

Singapore managed 100,000 for its first Grand Prix last year, though it has the advantage of holding its race in a city.

I’m not against Abu Dhabi having a Grand Prix and I don’t expect them to match the kind of demand for tickets you see in Britain, at least not right away.

But I do think the pinnacle of international motor sport should be aiming for a bigger audience at one of its 17 races this year than you get at a domestic football match.

This is a dispiriting trend among most of F1’s newest venues. Istanbul had 32,000 fans on race day this year, Sepang had 30,000 – and they only got to see half a race.

High ticket prices are to blame for falling attendance at many circuits. But the root cause of the problem is the huge sums Ecclestone charges race promoters to run Grands Prix.

FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo has drawn attention to the problem before, but the FIA under Max Mosley never bothered to get involved. Will that change under Jean Todt?

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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88 comments on “Of course the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is sold out, they’ve only got 50,000 seats”

  1. Prisoner Monkeys
    26th October 2009, 6:22

    I don’t blame for them only building 50,000 seats. It’ll spare them the embarrassment in future years that Turkey has suffered. I don’t rightly know how easy it is to access Abu Dhabi – I know it’s growing as a tourist destination – but as the championship has been settled (as nice as it is to see the battle go down to the final roud, it doesn’t always happen), I can’t see too many people being dedicated enough to go. So Abu Shabi gets full stands, more people will be watching on televsion becuase they’re not going to the actual, physical race, and everyone wins.

    Except maybe Romain Grosjean. I’m not expecting him to win anything except maybe another first-lap retirement.

    1. Terry Fabulous
      26th October 2009, 9:25

      Romain Grosjean! HA!

  2. The great problem is that Bernie Ecclestone requests a lot of money to the circuits in order to run a GP. As long as Ecclestone could find another country that holds the GP if Canada, UK, Germany cant GP tickets will be really expensive because someone will accept his charges.

    1. It’s time that Bernie Ecclestone did the decent thing and retired with all the other old cronies! F1 will be a lot better for it. He’s the TV rights guy and can’t even provide HD coverage of this sport! I thought F1 was supposed to be the cutting edge of technology !!

  3. FIA under Max Mosley never bothered to get involved. Will that change under Jean Todt?

    There is a fine line between being an optimist & being a fool. I think we are all fooling ourselves by thinking that Jean Toad will bring in sweeping changes to the sport. I see the situation only worsening. We are all in for rude surprises & non-ferrari followers are screwed for the next 5 years(period).

    As for Abu Dubai, there are so many pleasant places on this planet, dunno why Bernie has this “Fetish” for deserts? He shamelessly proclaims to the world that F1 can do without a “British GP” & at the same time recommends Knighthood to be granted to Ross Brawn!!! Why would he care about that? As if he really respects “HONORS” granted by the Queen.

    Bernie is a disgrace to F1 & to Britain. All he thinks about is $$$!!!

    So where do you plan to host the next new gp Bernie?

    Maybe the Gobi desert in Mongolia? Or perhaps Atacama desert? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he goes ahead with that!

    1. Ah, great to see that the MP4 bile flows so well, so early on a Monday morning. :D

      Bernie probably respects “Honours” quite a lot. He has one, after all.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      26th October 2009, 10:11

      I’m sorry MP4, but I don’t think there’s anything right in your post except for the spelling.

    3. A SAHARA GP will be good if Ghadafi would agree :-)

    4. There is a fine line between being an optimist & being a fool. I think we are all fooling ourselves by thinking that Jean Toad will bring in sweeping changes to the sport. I see the situation only worsening. We are all in for rude surprises & non-ferrari followers are screwed for the next 5 years(period).

      If you think you know too much, why are you sitting in front of comp, just commenting and talking becoz you have a voice!! Give the man sometime, then come to conclusions!! Evolution is always better than the so called ‘sweeping changes’ revolution that Mr.Ari Vatenen proposed. Maybe better things could happen, maybe not. But this ‘I am cool cos i hate ferrari’ or ‘McLaran is the car of the pure gods’ theorists need to shut up!! ppl like Schumi, or Ferrari, or Macca or Williams for some reason. So millions of Ferrari lovers can’t be wrong. Please make an educated comment. Cant stand reading your crap every other story n this esteemed site.

      1. Amen to Linksys blue.

        MP4 – Get a grip, man

      2. Could not agree more to you, Linksys blue

      3. ‘so millions of Ferrari lovers can’t be wrong.’ Really……

    5. Maybe this baseless self induced wannabes are the reason the ‘free-speech’ and fair-for-all stuff never works in this world.

      1. Well, sorry to say guys, he’s right at times. First of all, the new tracks suck, they’re crap, most of them. And who the hell wants a race at Abu Dhabi? Only extra-rich people are gonna be there, so you cannot possibly compare this type of event with a Manchester United match, sorry Keith, that was just insane of you.

        And yes, I feel another 5 years of boring Ferrari dominance coming this way; I’d hate it if I wasn’t one of the biggest Alonso fans. I actually dislike Ferrari as much as I dislike McLaren, but it’s great to see them fighting hard. I don’t understand how can Todt be running for this thing; he worked for Ferrari and his son manages Massa… No good can come out of that. Hope Ari Vatanen wins and that he’s crazy as his fellow Finn Rosberg, and changes a lot of stuff and we can go back to see some wheel to wheel, spectacular accidents, people running out of fuel, great overtakes and hopefully a lot of guys fighting for the title (like Rosberg-Hamilton-Massa-Alonso-Vettel-Button with Kubica trying to steal some wins from them…)

        1. Hey Keith, what’s the stats on attendence in Bahrain and Turkey and China? I ask because, while I agree that prices are too high and should be dealt with, I believe it’s a bit unfair to deride the UAE for a low attendence. The season is over already, the track is new, publicity has been low for the race (the recession really hurt them), the country has no racing history/legacy and sporting events there, which are catered to a small number of wealthy people (and tourists) usually have small attendance numbers. To compare it to countries like Great Britain and Brazil is a little unfair, and maybe these three that I mentioned would give a more accurate reading.

          Furthermore, I believe Abu Dhabi will always have low numbers, unless it is moved to the start of the season, possibly.

          1. Hey Keith, what’s the stats on attendence in Bahrain and Turkey and China? I ask because, while I agree that prices are too high and should be dealt with, I believe it’s a bit unfair to deride the UAE for a low attendence.

            It’s not an easy thing to get data on. You’re basically stuck with what the circuits themselves report. They’re likely to be over-estimated, but even if the figures for Sepang and Istanbul quoted above are 100% accurate, they’re depressingly small.

          2. Good point Keith I’m sure they do round up figures a little bit..

            According the Bahrain International Circuit’s website, they said that 94,000 attended in the 2009 GP, while the latest F1 Racing magazine-Middle East edition-mentioned that 90,000 attended this year’s GP. They said it said it was “especially exceptional” given the global economic downturn.
            The 2008 Bahrain GP was close to 100,000 which is the best figure so far.. Not bad for a tiny island..

        2. Flig, I’d forgotten about Nicolas Todt. Yet another reason why Jean Todt’s rule of F1 is compromised before he even begins.

      2. Free speech and fair for all not working?
        Huh? I hope you mean that only within the context of F1.

      3. Everyone on this board or any other is entitled to an opinion, whether it be MP4, or Linksys blue, It does’nt matter if it is crap, or factual, what you don’t like you don’t have to read or get involved in…I would say Linksys that once you let go of the right to free speech, and the right to reply, will that be fair to anyone?

        1. Moderation’s the word I missed last time around!!!

  4. i think there aiming for consistency. if they can get a constant 50,000 that would be a good score for its first few years in F1.

    1. Well unless they build more seats it’s hardly going to go up is it?

  5. Remember that the City of Abu Dhabi only has some 900,000 inhabitants, and the United Arab Emirates a mere 4.7 million. ‘Only’ 50,000 seats doesn’t surprise me.

    Marc has a point, too.

    1. And that’s not bad at all either for a country’s first race in a location that will be expensive for international travellers to go to and stay in.

      Thing is though, we’d still rather have large numbers of fans going to a GP than larger percentages of the population, balanced with the location of the GP, coming out on top of the traditional ones.

      Kudos to Abu Dhabi for not being over-optimistic for its first race, and it looks like it might be in the top tier to decent Tilke tracks, but surely a better option for this and other tracks would be to build more seats and reduce the ticket prices accordingly? You’re more likely to get 1,000 people buying £50 tickets than 500 people buying £100 tickets. Of course, there may be issues with the location of the place, such as Turkey which is poorly serviced by transport links (even Silverstone is no easy place to get to), but if that’s the case then maybe they should have though about investing in that before holding a GP few want to spend all that effort to get to.

      As impressive as 50,000/4.7m is, I’d rather have a race with some atmosphere. Sadly, with Bernie increasingly holding races far from the reaches of traditional F1 fans, whilst these countries are trying to build up their own F1 tradition (and that’s being optimistic about it – most likely for most of them it’s a tourism cash cow), current F1 fans can’t afford to go to these places. So we’re stuck with 50,000 in the middle of the desert.

  6. The other question is how many of those seats have been sold as part of a package with the hotel? Are these going to be 50,000 true F1 fans, or just those who can afford a) a ticket and b)to get to Abu Dhabi?

    1. Lots of fans are priced out of attending any GP… I hardly think Abu Dhabi is special in this regard.

      You could replace “Abu Dhabi” in your post with “Spa” or “Monza” or “Nurburgring” and still have a good point.

  7. The Valencia GP was sold out too. At least on race day. With “only” 70,000 seats. I guess most (new) countries don’t have such huge numbers of seats available anymore?

    In the case of Valencia they sold 35,000 tickets in the last few days when it turned out Alonso was coming after all. Before that the Schumacher rumours helped them to an extra 3,500 tickets sold.

  8. Expecting the GP to get more spectators than an Old Trafford football match seems a bit hopeful.

    Anyone who follows a sport other than football will at some point ask, “Why isn’t my sport as popular as football?”

    But people can watch what they want… it’s up to them.

  9. The 50 000 figure must include people who will be staying at the rather impressive looking hotel.

    The Yas Marina website (www.yasmarinacicuit.com)states that:

    “Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the circuit from the comfort of permanent, covered grandstands and VIP facilities.”

    1. Exactly. Unfortunately, even the traditional GPs are increasingly become “see and be seen” events for the wealthy, but Yas Marina seems to be specifically built for that purpose.

  10. I think that’s a bit negative. Do we know what the average size of a stadium is in Abu Dhabi? Maybe this is a large capacity for Abu Dhabi. I think it is good that the venue is sold out and I think we should take positives rather than negatives from it. I do agree that they should definitely keep Silverstone or a British GP though. That is just ludicrous if it is lost.

    1. Probably for the first time I do agree with you, S Hughes! :)

      1. Probably for the first time I do agree with you, S Hughes!

        Exactly my words.

  11. One of the biggest challenge for Todt will be to fight against Bernie which Max couldn’t.Secondly I don’t blame them because there are few F1 fan in Abu Dhabi than in Britain.Yes I do agree about the number in Britain yet Bernie is saying no British GP.Bernie needs to stop taking huge amount of charge from the venue.

    I think is Abu Dhabi can keep the consistency then they may increase its capacity by 5000 per year.

    1. Hopefully Todt’s much-feared tenacity could work wonders if used in the right way, ie. bullying Bernie to provide HD, keep Brit GP and lower ticket prices. Wishful thinking?

  12. Hmm, Have you cared to find out how many people attended the first ever Belgian GP or the Silverstone GP whenever it was held.

    Out of a population of 9 lakh, 0.5 lakh are attending. Thats a ratio of 1:18. Which is very very impressive. And its just their first race.

    Don’t look for the tiniest of reasons to rant off against the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and other asian races in general.

    1. I share your sentiments regarding the British GP. It will be ridiculous to lose it. With 2 WDCs on the grid, it is stupid not to have.

      Having said that, kudos to Silverstone officials for standing up to Bernie. Bernie will eventually have to succumb to their lower rates, coz. if another race is lost (after French) Bernie will go down the same road as Max did. With 2 WDCs on the grid and British GP being home to 7 of 10 current teams (i think), the silverstone officials have sufficient bargaining power.

      Bernie is just getting rattled since he is unable to force his will on the race organizers like he does with other nations’ officials.

      But trying to justify a British GP by comparing the seating capacity of Abu Dhabi and Silverstone or comparing number of people attending a football match to that attending a formula one race is just puerile.

    2. I agree with you 100%.

      1. means 100,000, Indian numbering system unit

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    26th October 2009, 10:09

    The numbers of attendees ‘live’ is irrelevent. It’s the TV audience that matters. Abu Dhabi wanted the last race on the calendar, and the Championship decided there so that the worldwide TV audience would be huge, thus bring recognition (and interest too, they hope) to Abu Dhabi).
    If they thought they could have safely filled more seats, they would have built them. But nothing is worse than seeing empty grandstand seats in the background of TV coverage, doesn’t matter what the sport is.

  14. Its good they filled 50k seats ‘atleast’!! Lets see how the track is, and the race is, anyway, this aint the final next year, so not expecting a repeat.

  15. I think it is a good business plan – they can always add more seating if necessary.

    Also, tracks should form a FOTA of their own to fight for better conditions, maybe they should request a deal where the profits are shared with FOM instead of paying a fee which grows bigger every year. Drivers said people in Istanbul are really passionate about F1 and whole town is buzzing – they just can’t afford the tickets which are sky high for them. Australian GP has tickets for general admission which cost only 10 € more and glancing on average pay in Australia and Turkey you can see that Australians can afford going to F1 race much more easily. Nothing bad can come from lowering prices of admission to F1 races, I know that I would spend a fortune on merchandise on race so they better leave me with some spare change to buy it ;)

    1. I think it is a good business plan – they can always add more seating if necessary.

      I don’t think the quality of their business planning is that important. They don’t need the money from spectators because they have massive government support. Not every circuit has that luxury.

  16. I agree that boasting about a sell-out of 50,000 tickets is hardly something to shout about. Other promo sillyness from the Abu Dhabi organisers include saying it will be a “historic” race because it is the first race in Abu Dhabi. And the winning driver will be extra-proud because he will be the first winner at a race in Abu Dhabi. Huh?

  17. One of the many comments I posted on James Allen’s page that was never published – funny how every comment I’ve ever posted disagreeing with him is blocked – is that this is another track for the rich to see and be seen at. Corporate boxes where they can do business while they ignore what happens on track. It has precious little to do with motorsport or the fans. Sad.

    1. Maybe James Allen decided there are enough web sites full of F1 fans complaining or being cynical :)

    2. this is another track for the rich to see and be seen at. Corporate boxes where they can do business while they ignore what happens on track. It has precious little to do with motorsport or the fans. Sad.

      Agreed – it is depressing.

      1. Agreed again.

  18. When I read the announcement that the GP was sold out, I thought well that’s good but the capacity was only 50,000.

    Apart from people in the VIP areas I don’t think Bernie would mind if there were no fans at the actual race and everyone watched on TV.

  19. But I do think the pinnacle of international motor sport should be aiming for a bigger audience at one of its 17 races this year than you get at a domestic football match.

    I think to consider a ManU match to be just another domestic football match is stupid. ManU has an international fan following and is one of the biggest football clubs in the world. And I also agree with others, that comparing F1 with football is also not fair as we all know football is by far the most followed sport in the world.

    1. That’s all undoubtedly true but how many games are they playing this year? Many of them more significant than yet another Premiership match. Versus just 17 rounds (this year) of an world championship tournament. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for F1 to expected over 75,000 at each race. When you compare the size of a Grand Prix circuit to the size of a football pitch, less than that starts to look a bit thin.

  20. All 50,000 seats are grandstands rather than general admission aren’t they? In which case Abu Dhabi may have more grandstand seats than many other circuits, including Silverstone.

  21. One and a half billion and only 50k seats….money to burn

  22. bernie doesnt care if grandtstands are empty as he already has his race fee and i doubt todt cares either.
    whats worst is no one in f1 i.e. media will speak out about this for the fans as they are too scared of bernie.
    when have you ever seen an arcticle in autisport or f1 racing about the cost of going!?
    its a disgrace, the fans voices cant be heard

  23. Having races in Asia doesn’t bother me. But it does bother me when they remove proven race sights and replace them with unproven race sights.
    Britain, France, Canada, U.S.A. should be on the circuit every year without question marks. F1 needs Europe and North America before it needs Asia and the middle east. Let them develop their own racing league if they want one so badly, but as far as I am concerned, if they can’t draw over 100,000 fans, then they shouldn’t be getting a race.

    1. but as far as I am concerned, if they can’t draw over 100,000 fans, then they shouldn’t be getting a race

      You are joking, right????

      If Bernie starts working based on your logic, we will be left merely with 3 or 4 races a year!

      1. I was being a bit overly dramatic, but I’m sure you understand my point. Why go to places that haven’t proven themselves when we know of lots of other venues that will draw largerly crowds?

        1. F1 needs Europe and North America before it needs Asia and the middle east

          100% agreed! Moreover they don’t even understand the sport in the middle east & India :P

        2. F1 is a major buisness enterpsise and they need more races in Asia and developing countries (like Russia, for example) to increase their profile and help the engines suppliers and sponsors sell more products (especially cars). To restrict it to already established markets is somewhat ridiculous and oversimplified in a commercial sense, like selling a tv to someone who already has several of them. Eventually he will grow tired of them, or not… a rather big risk.

          Even if attendence in these places do not go up (remember that the F1 exursion to asia and the middle-east in still new), the exposure will be benefitial.

          The real problem is getting drivers from those countries on the grid, and good ones I mean, not a paid seat.

          1. Good to see someone who appreciates the business side of Formula 1.

            Formula 1 goes to Asia because it MUST go.

            And 20, 30 years down the line, Singapore, Sepang, Istanbul, Shanghai are going to become the “traditional tracks”. These tracks need to be given a chance before being rejected for good.

            Even the Valencia tracks hasn’t seen a rainy weekend yet, just wait for one, even Valencia will throw something other than a snorefest.

          2. Well then, set aside a 3 races per season in Asia, and rotate which tracks get them each year until the fan base has become large enough.
            You CANNOT take away races from people that already love the sport.
            Yes, North America and Europe are already developed countries that have exposure to the F1 manufacturers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need or want the races.
            Besides, if going to places like North America and Europe makes the Manufacturer teams leave, then good. Ferrar and McLaren will stay no matter what, but I would rather see them and 10 other independant teams on the grid.
            Would you take away a plate of brocolli from your son/daughter whom you know loves and then place it in front of their younger sibling whom doesn’t know if they like it yet? No. You would just place a couple pieces brocolli on their plate and wait see what they think.

          3. F1 is a major business, but the decision on which countries get to host a Grand Prix in recent years is more to do with who is prepared to pay Ecclestone the most, not where the sponsors main markets are or countries with potential new fans.

            The manufacturers and sponsors wanted Grand Prix in North America but both the US and Canadian Grand Prix were cancelled because they would not pay Ecclestone what he wanted (hopefully we will have Canada back from next year though).

            While I think F1 should remain it it’s traditional countries, not just in Europe but Canada, USA, Brazil, Australia and Japan, I think it should also have races all over the world. So I would have Grand Prix in Africa, Russia and India before another Grand Prix in a Middle East Country such as Abu Dhabi especially when it is relatively small compared other countries, and especially before any country got a second Grand Prix such as Spain with Valencia and the dullest race of the year.

  24. Having races in places like Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrein and Abu-Dabbi has a lot more to do w/ global politics than just money.

    From the attendance in Turkey, not only this year but in the past as well, we can safely conclude that the place has no business hosting a GP. But the government is willing to foot not only the bill for the race, but also any occasional penalties, like the 5 M Euro they paid a few years ago for misconduct, when the trophy presenter was the “president of the Turkish-Cypriot” nation, an entity not recognized by any world government, body or organization (except of course the Turkish government).

    I agree that 50,000 seats is a disgrace and bragging about selling out 50,000 seats is a joke.

  25. This year Turkey only had 30,000 people at the track, so 50,000 is not that bad. Also consider that these 50,000 pay a lot because they are not “usual” fans, they are people who can afford to pay 2,000$ for a night in the hotel… So, not many people but good ones ;-)

    1. Are you saying that only “Rich” people are good enough to see sporting events?
      I’m sorry but sports have always been meant to enterain everyone, especially the poorer folk. “…not many people but good ones” I’m sorry but that is completely insulting.

      1. How about the FIA or FOM or FOTA conducting some sort of worldwide examination to test people’s knowledge of F1? Something like a GRE! The top 2000 or so get to visit every gp for free :) The topics can range from history of f1 to the technical aspects. Wouldn’t that be great? :D

        1. And I’m pretty sure that many of us, the f1fanatics will sail through the exam. :D

          1. That is a beautiful dream. I think we should get free tickets; we’re all clearly suffering from a serious addiction so they can ease our pain and cravings :P

  26. I’m one of many American F1 fans who religiously attended the US GP, but now it’s been thrown out indefinitely, and I simply can’t afford to go to Canada (and who knows how long they’ll keep their date anyway?). I really hope the same thing doesn’t happen to British fans. I’m all for building an Asian fan base, but let them watch on TV for a while, instead of taking a gamble and building new circuits that disappoint attendance-wise. We in Europe and North America have the tradition, the most fans, and our GPs deserve top priority.

    1. I agree but like I said earlier this has a lot more to do w/ global politics than anything else.

  27. Will that change under Jean Todt?

    I have 100% confidence that it will. ;)

  28. Britain gets a big turnout for it’s GP. After reading this article I see that Singapore got a big turnout as well, although lets track it over the next 2 years. It’s attendance numbers will fall. I thought average GP attendance numbers were around 50K on race day. (Give or take lets say 10K)
    Speaking from experience the USGP had an initial attendance of about 250K. That was race day only. Probably close to 400K for the weekend. That number fell in subsiquent years. Plumiting after the tire fiasco. (Although Michelin paid for tickets the following year, thank you very much.)However, race day average attendance still was about 150K. Indy looked pretty empty with that number due to the fact that the Indy 500 gets about 400K on race day. The probablem with F1 at Indianapolis, (part of the problem), was that ticket prices were very favorable compared to Euro and Asian pricing. $150.00 US for main straight “penthouse” seats. (I am not factoring in the prices charged for Paddock Club admission) Other good seating ran from $45.00 to about $80.00 US. Guess what? The track could’nt make money at those price points. Increasing the ticket prices would have driven people away also, so it became kind of a catch 22 situation. This and the staging fees charged by FOM caused Tony George (Pres. of IMS) and Bernie to be at loggerheads in reaching agreement for a new GP contract. So there you have it. Yes, pricing and profit is the key here. Yeah, Bernie, FOM and ultimately CVC are certainly entitled to make a profit. But so is the track owner. In the USA we do not have government subsidised F1 races. (Although everything else here seems to be subsidised these days.) It is free enterprise that is supposed to make our economic system work. Therefore, if the track owner can’t make the numbers work they will back away. Can Jean Todt cause this to change? I doubt it. However, from where I sit anything would help. I’m willing to give the guy a chance now that he gets to sit in the big chair. (No pun intended) :-)

  29. Ecclestone is the puppet, not the puppetmaster. CVC partners call the shots and BE dances to their tune.
    Their tune is big money and those who are prepared to pay this over-commercialised piper.

    So we have a massive conflict of interest.

    To F1 enthusiasts, the F1 season is about high quality racing in the best race cars on the planet, with drivers to match. With classic tracks and huge totally committed crowds and atmosphere it would be good to package and sell as Christmas presents. In other words F1 as it once was and still should be. A fantastic thing in every way.

    To CVC partners F1 is simply a highly polished grand opera in 18 acts and the strongest marketing tool they have is the glamour, high cost, exclusivety and ‘see and be seen’ jet set characters. Crowds don’t matter, in fact they’re a nuisance. All this means the average fans wishes will totally ignored and all the classic races will eventually be lost so that a (very ) few super-rich people can have their own private race tracks in the middle of a desert or somewhere equally unattractive. And provided these rich playboys can pay CVC’s staggering costs, that is what we will eventually end up with.

    CVC partners have quietly stolen our wonderful sport from under our noses and it’ll be bloody hard to buy it back.

    Sorry to write such a gloomy prognosis guys ! Somebody contradict me…please !

    1. Ecclestone is the puppet, not the puppetmaster. CVC partners call the shots and BE dances to their tune.

      CVC partners have quietly stolen our wonderful sport from under our noses and it’ll be bloody hard to buy it back.

      CVC play the tune now, but I’ve never seen a “puppetmaster” paying a fortune to his “puppet” for being able “to move the strings”.

      What CVC is doing now, it’s just a consequence of that fortune they have to paid. So at this point, I’m afraid is “your puppet” who “move the strings” of your “puppetmaster”.

  30. Totally agreed. Ticket are too expensive. Even as a die heart fans of F1, I would seriously consider whether to attend and watch it live, despite finding it better to be watched over TV coverage.

  31. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    26th October 2009, 21:49

    I read in The Sunday Times that about 35,000 people turned out to see Jensen Button do a few laps of a car park somwhere in kent, in a merc, when he returned from brazil. Thats a higher turnout for one driver and no f1 cars, than for all 20 at Istanbul and Sepang. Istanbul has argubly the worlds greatest corner so its disgraceful that theres such a poor attendence.

  32. Like they say in commodities markets, the cure for high prices is high prices. Bernie couldn’t care less whether the circuits or CVC makes money, he’s already cashed out long ago. Best thing for him actually is to run this thing into the ground then buy it back on the other side for half or less of what he sold for. That’s the way to play the game isn’t it?

  33. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    26th October 2009, 21:56

    Football match attendences are restricted because the size of a pitch is only about 100m. But an f1 track is a couple of km long so surely ther could be higher attendences.
    Theres proably the same number of people at queens park rangers matchs as at Istanbul.

  34. I found it interesting that they only had such a relatively small capacity of tickets, especially for the inaugural event, but, arguably, it’s the better choice than overestimating attendance numbers, which, as some races indicated this year, can leave a strange impression, too.

  35. Canada has a capacity of 100,000 only limited by the surrounding water and they have no problem selling out on a year to year basis, even though ticket prices are up near $150-$600/weekend. Yet, they can’t afford to pay bernie (who asks for far too much)… so my question would be who’s the moron working out the ticket prices? The last race in montreal I was at I met people from as far as california. The fans are willing to travel and pay $400/night for accommodation and $600 for a flight, do you really think they care about another $100 for the tickets. If that means bernie gets his money for his divorce and North American gets back its race on the calendar, I say so be it.

    I agree with everyone who is frustrated with Formula 1 giving up on proven markets. Bahrain was a flop, even though it is a wonderful circuit, now they are racing in Abu Dhabi which is only 300km across the bay.

  36. Keith,

    I think there were quite a few more people at Sepang this year…more like 90,000. Sepang has been averaging that kind of crowd for quite a few years I believe…the stands look empty because the bloody place has a capacity of 150,000!!! Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

    Whatever said and done, MotoGP at Sepang last week drew 60,000, which is an amazing crowd for that event. The tickets are so much cheaper compared to F1. A grandstand ticket for the MotoGP costs more than 10 times less than that of F1!

  37. “I’m not against Abu Dhabi having a Grand Prix”

    Good for you. Because you ignore their input in motorport, and because you would be against Britain having a race for being incapable of financing a track. The collapse of Donington is a disgrace, and your argument falls flat here. Since dragging spectators was going to be so easy, it should have attracted investors.

    As for formula one: it is only the “the pinnacle of international motor sport” because it is highly publicized and requests a lot of money. It is only the motor sport which is the most talked about. Its popularity is often based on gossips or internal fights, to the point that the F1 world often forgets that the FIA has more to do than deal will the sole interest of one open-wheel category.

    But how many F1 fans have actually put their nose inside a cockpit?

    Who cares about 100,00 or 300,00? And what does that mean exactly? In 2008 there was an inquiry after the Australian gp, since the organizers were alleging 300,00 spectators. This even went to court, and rightly so, since advertizing an inaccurate popularity is a fraud.

    But ok. Let’s say that they are three times more people going to Silverstone than Abu Dhabi. Let’s see what happens in the future, when formula one will have physically moved towards Asia, and in doing so it will be able to survive. For your own pleasure.

    It is the story of the cows who presented a petition to their farmer, since the animals were far superior in number. Or is it pure propaganda?

  38. The real problem is that all of the new tracks are paid for by governments, not business ventures. Abu Dhabi could never pay for their investment on 50K seats, and if the attendance base is not there why build the seats???

    As pointed out in an earlier comment, why build 100K seats and have most of them empty like Maylasia?

  39. 2. The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary.


  40. The SEATING might be 50,000, but every one of those yachts in the harbor had 50+ people on them…

    I’d wager there were another 40,000 out on the water…

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