My Favorite of All F1 Tracks for Spectators
If you haven’t been to a Formula 1 race yet, make 2021 the year you finally do it. Of all F1 tracks, here are three that I love, why they’re great, and with my pro tips so you’ll know where to watch F1 racing.
Circuit of The Americas
Top of my list of all F1 tracks is the spectacular facility just outside of Austin, Texas. As an American fan, it tops my list of where to watch F1 racing for a few reasons:
Flying into Austin is easy and relatively short because it’s close to the center of our country.
Austin is an amazing city with a fantastic live music scene. While hotels downtown can be pricey, there are lots of options in the outlying neighborhoods if you’re on a budget. And while you’re in town, you’ll be spoiled for choice for Texas BBQ. Black’s is my go to. They open at 11am and there’s a line out the door by 11:30.
COTA, as the track’s known, is fantastic. It has quite a bit of elevation change, and this helps tremendously if you’re a fan looking for a view. Who isn’t, right? With even the entry level General Admission ticket, there are fantastic views of the action from Haas Hill just inside the entrance gate and also from turns 1 and 2 if you feel like taking a bit of a walk to get there. For a bird's-eye view, you can also travel up the tower and get a panoramic view of the entire area. To top it all off, the organizers of this race really know how to entertain. COTA has a performance stage and big names such as Taylor Swift, Elton John, Bruno Mars, and Britney Spears have performed included with your race admission. 2021’s United States Grand Prix will see Billy Joel take the stage Saturday evening. It’s definitely fantastic value for money and thus why it’s top of my list.
Jared’s Pro Tips: Take the shuttle buses or a ride share to and from the track. Parking there, as at all F1 tracks, is outrageously expensive. You’ll spend far less on a well-organized shuttle bus that leaves from downtown Austin.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
This track, home of the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, is my runner-up for where to watch F1 racing. It’s a bit more expensive to attend, but let’s run through the good stuff first:
Montreal is an easy flight from major airports in the United States. For those of us in the Northeast, it’s also a very easy drive and the border crossing is pretty efficient in both directions.
Of all F1 tracks, the city of Montreal has the big race weekend down pat. The entire city comes alive when Formula 1 comes to town every year in June with a very vibrant atmosphere. It’s also an extremely friendly city. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French — you’ll get by just fine. Even by city standards, hotels downtown are reasonable, with plenty of other options for weekend rentals in lots of great neighborhoods, at very reasonable prices. The Metro is the best way to get to the track itself, and the Montreal Police Department are experts at keeping the crowds moving at the Metro stop for the track.
Food and beverages at the track aren’t the type of prices that you’d expect for a major event either. Even better, you can bring in your own food and beverages (including alcohol) so long as you aren’t bringing in glass. Très magnifique!
Jared’s Pro Tips: If you hang out in the Formula 1 area on Reddit, there’s an annual Reddit meetup that I started years ago. Everyone’s super friendly, so swing by and say hello.
Here’s the down (read: expensive) side. They built the circuit on a man-made island in the middle of a river. Therefore, it’s very flat and doesn’t provide a lot of great viewing with a General Admission ticket, which is not the case for all F1 tracks. Spring for the grandstands for a much more enjoyable experience. I recommend the grandstand on the inside of the hairpin (it’s the cheapest one, so it sells out fast) or one of the two at the first and second turns (these are “silver” level and mid-range in price). Also, purchase your tickets directly from the track’s website as it’s cheaper than buying from Formula 1.
Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
If there is a single track that sums up Formula 1 for me, it’s Monza. I get chills down my back just thinking of it. Of all F1 tracks, it’s one of the few remaining historic tracks on the calendar, complete with cars passing under the old banked section of track. The mighty Monza Parabolica feeding into the massive straight is where Formula 1 cars reach their highest speeds of the entire season. If Monaco is a scalpel of precision, Monza is the sheer brutality of a sledgehammer. Drivers punish their engines as the cars scream around The Temple of Speed.
With the Ferrari Tifosi, complete with their massive Ferrari banners handed from fan to fan through the crowd, the atmosphere is electric for 3 full days. To quote Sebastian Vettel, “Everyone is a Ferrari fan.” With the podium elevated just over the track, if the wind is just right, the spray of champagne kisses the fans who have rushed the track at the end of the race to see their winner.
A Ferrari winning on a Sunday at Monza with the Tifosi in full effect is the closest you will get to a religious experience at a racetrack. And you absolutely should put this circuit on your list of where to watch F1 racing live.
Jared’s Pro Tip: Go Big or Stay Home. If you’re going all the way to Italy, make it the ultimate motorsport trip. Fly into Paris and rent a fun, sporty car. Quick jaunt up to Spa to see the Belgian GP and then spend a week (or two depending on the F1 calendar) meandering south along the amazing roads of Europe arriving in Monza just in time for race weekend. Enjoy your motorsport religious experience, and then wing on home from Milan. Of all F1 tracks and trips, you can’t argue with this itinerary!
About the Author:
Jared Nichols has been a Formula 1 fan for over a decade and a car nut his entire life. He is the host of the F1 Explained podcast, where he and special guests make Formula 1 accessible to all. Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.