The best seat in the house?
As the inaugural Indian Grand Prix draws near, F1 aficionados and casual bandwagoners alike have started clamouring for tickets to the historic sports event. Unfortunately for the paying public, the harsh reality is that those high priced grandstand seats don’t offer much in the way of a viewing experience.
For a three-day Rs 35,000 grandstand seat, fans get the pleasure of seeing nothing more than the sight of cars screaming past them on the pit straight before disappearing from view. The rest of the action needs to be followed on a giant TV screen above the pit complex.
If the majority of the action is to be followed on a TV screen, then one has to question the wisdom of purchasing a grandstand seat at all. In this writer’s (very) brief experience of spectating at and covering motorsports events, grandstand seats are not the way to go.
It makes far more sense in terms of getting the bang for your buck to get a natural or picnic stand seat or a seat that overlooks a series of corners or a crucial overtaking zone. Not to mention the fact that your wallet won’t feel so empty. Should it come to braving the elements in terms of rain or wind, it’s all part and parcel of the motorsports experience.
However, if its a proper viewing experience of motorsports that you want, then you need to look beyond F1. As much as it pains me to say this (being a huge F1 fan), championships like MotoGP offer far more in the way of access to spectators for a far better viewing experience.
Take for instance, the general admission weekend passes for a MotoGP event. On average such a pass will set you back by around Rs 3,500. A full thousand more than the cheapest ticket available for the Indian GP (which have long since sold out). However, the general admission pass will allow you to roam all over a circuit’s different vantage points throughout the weekend. Including raceday, something that is not available at most F1 circuits.
If you’re willing to shell out another Rs 2,500 then you can get access to the paddock for one day at a MotoGP event. Multiply that figure by three if you want access for all three days. By getting to the paddock (the area between the pits and the team buildings) fans can expect stars like seven-time champion Valentino Rossi and former Superbike champion Colin Edwards to happily oblige signing autographs or posing with fans for photo-ops.
Then of course the whole atmosphere at a MotoGP event is far more relaxed than at an F1 race where you are constantly reminded that one man’s will controls the running of the event.
F1 may be the pinnacle of motorsports, but in terms of a viewing experience for the people willing to shell out money and get out of their comfort zone to watch it, it’s anything but. And that’s something that F1’s powers that be should rectify post haste.
by Vinayak Pande