The game begins to change: Formula 1 announces fan festival for Spanish GP
Posted By: Editor   |  11 May 2017   |  11:36 am GMT  |  59 comments

Further signs of the new management of F1 under Liberty Media starting to open the sport up to fans are evident at the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend; it will be the first to feature a ‘fan festival’ to celebrate the season’s first European race.

In line with the F1 administration’s stated aim to ‘bring the fans closer to the sport’ (which has always been the mission of the JA on F1 website on the information side, as long time readers will know), the fan festival aims to provide added value and more engaging touch points with the sport.

A dedicated fan TV channel for those attending will screen live interviews from experts, with current and former F1 drivers to make appearances as well.

For the first time, a two-seater racing car will take one winner around Circuit de Catalunya at top speeds of nearly 190mph. Numerous other competitions will offer prizes such as Paddock Club passes and photo opportunities with F1 teams up and down the grid.

In the pitlane, a fully functioning garage will show spectators how F1 teams set-up their cars for the race. This fan zone will also boast racing simulators, a 200m zip-line, pit-stop challenges and live music.

At the Paddock Club, those with access will see an exclusive range of show cars and an engine display from the Mercedes team for a deeper inside into its inner workings. A tour in the drivers’ parade truck will take those members around the track for a closer experience.

Accommodation packages also include the choice to stay at the same hotel as a certain team’s, if requested.

Sean Bratches, Managing Director of Commercial Operations at F1 said “Formula 1 is undergoing a major evolution.

“The Spanish Grand Prix is a landmark moment in the brand’s history.

“From the outset, we have focused on getting fans closer to the action and broadening the appeal of the sport. The launch of this weekend’s Fan Festival marks the beginning of this journey and we are excited about bringing races to life in this way over the course of the season and beyond.”

F1 Experiences has launched a new website along with this announcement. The website implies that the fan festival will carry on at every upcoming F1 race in the calendar.

Does this new approach to fan engagement from F1 excite you? Leave a comment in the section below or on JA’s Facebook page.

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I’m a recent follower of Formula One and i just wanted to say how impressed and thrilled I am with your new approach. Simple things like Will Buxton’s 2 seater ride around the track, interviews out on the track instead of inside, and more complete explanations ofthe track layout and other information all make the sport much more comprehensible and exciting for us, especially novice, fans. It’s a complicated sport, but well worth learning. By the way, I live in Indianapolis and have been attending the 500 since 1958, so I’m especially excited to see Fernando Alonso there this year. I think this could be great for both Indy Car and Formula One. Well done!



Was it Alonso being announced at Indy that made you take a look at F1?


The opposite seems to be true as well, many F1 fans are looking into the Indy 500 , primarily due to the Alonso effect. I hate to admit I am one of them.
Growing up watching the Indy was a big thing for me, today not so much, however having Alonso there has had an effect.
A 38sec lap measured in “speed” on an almost flat oval needs little in the way of explanations. Its pure speed and can be very exciting when there great drivers involved. In my opinion its really down to that simple equation.

For F1 I think Ross gets that, and I sincerely hope he finds a formula to have the best drivers in the sport represented in F1. Currently we do not.


We are here, have been 3 times before, and there appears to be nothing really ‘extra’ for free for the fans as such – just more ways for the promoter to make some cash. Never saw anyone on the zip wire thing!?It’s all good, but what it really needs is a open pit lane, aka Le Mans. Also – food and drink that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg and take 45 mins to get would be good. What about more Fan stands for individual drivers – gets the atmosphere going abit more? Verstapen and almost stands full of cheers all the time. On a side note – the applause alonso got from everyone in the stands when getting into q3 was great!


Its basically fluff.

You can’t be negative on it but its more on the reactive side than on the proactive. Corporate types need to provide something for the sake of providing – looking like they are doing something. Is it good for the sport of F1? Well I guess the more important question is – is it bad for F1. The answer is no.

I am more interested in what Ross will bring – that should be more beneficial to the sport. Maybe give Claire some cash so she can hire a proper racer ?


This reminds me of all my years in customer service – new management comes in with all these new things you have to do for the customers all day, ontop of all the other stuff you already have to do and you’re like “well where’s my payrise then”, and they’re like “I don’t give a $#!@”. Poor Kimi lol


Seems like the stuff Montreal has been doing of its​ own accord for years. There’s nothing wrong with it.


your right, but its the whole city that gets behind it, not just at the track, Its a party and its been that way for as long as I can remember.

Montreal has soul. If it was in Toronto it would be a dud. This concept plays a big part – Monaco is the same thing.


The numbers are still nowhere near clear enough. The rules need to go further but it’s a step in the right direction.


Bernie ran a burger joint like a 5 star restaurant. Liberty will run a 5 star restaurant like a burger joint.


Is this really anything different to the existing offering at the AusGP in Melbourne? Not to say it’s not great that the other races are at least matching that level of fan engagement! It just doesn’t seem like anything new, in comparison to Melbourne.


It all sounds a bit like the Australian GP?
Come on Europe….catch up!!


I remember in the early noughties, the general admission area was full of F1 showcars. There was one from every team, right down to Minardi. Fans would line up to take a close look at an F1 car, or get a Pic. Then about 10years ago, the showcars disappeared. At this years Australian GP, I saw a lone Red Bull show car. I must say, the Oz GP do an outstanding with offtrack displays of classic cars, historic racers, BMX, food trucks, street performers, live music, etc… But not a lot of it’s F1 specific. They do a pitlane walk for early bird grandstand holders at 8am one day, and about 10,000 people turn up to get a closer look at F1. F1 fans are a passionate bunch.


Ah, “live music”. Why this insistence on foisting someone else’s choice of loud music on us wherever we go? They do it at rugby, cricket, even tennis these days and it’s a massive irritation. I’ve been at motor racing events where I’ve had to put earplugs in BETWEEN the races in order to dull down the pain of blaring music. It doesn’t add to the atmosphere, it distracts from the impact of the event itself. No wonder people complain about the lack of noise from current F1 cars if they are used to their eardrums being bombarded by artificial noise. Bah, humbug.


@Simon Lord. I’m with you all the way on this one. No further comment need be added!


Spain – F1experiences cost – starting at $1029. General admission ticket cost for the Sunday only – 115 euro. Grandstick tickets for Sunday, cheapest one is 225 Euro. Closer to the fans? give me a break. At those prices, they’ll have to bring back 18000rpm engines for me to consider it worth it. I’ll never forget standing in Monza in 2004 having to wear ear plugs, and the noise actually vibrating the internals of my Nokia phone. What an experience. Now that was worth 300 euro.


In Australia, a Gen Admission ticket is $100 but cheaper ($85 at the door-60 euro). It obviously doesn’t get you in the pit complex, and you don’t have reserved grand stand seat, but it gets you access to all the festival events, bars and entertainment. Albert Park isn’t the greatest track in the world, but it’s pretty decent value and a great time!


The Australian GP has had a Minardi 2-seater for quite a few years now, and has also often had large concerts at the conclusion of the race. Also one of the few circuits to have almost non-stop action on track as well.

About time some of the other venues caught up…


BigHaydo, I just posted the same.
I would have thought it was down to the promoter and not Liberty Media?


Do these people actually pay money to go through the gate?

Andrew Halliday

I’ve just walked around the new version of the F1 Village and I must say, it’s disappointing. There’s a bit where you can take a photo standing on an F1 podium and another bit where you can get a photo waving the chequered flag in front of a giant photo of an F1 car crossing the finish line. The new bar is a joke – you can order Heineken 0% or… Heineken 0%. As a regular attendee of F1 races I actually found it insulting. It’s just a silly gimmick and won’t in any way increase my enjoyment or access to F1 throughout this weekend. Plus, once I’ve had my photo taken on the podium etc, will I really want to have the exact same photo taken at other races that I attend? The idea of a 2 seater F1 hot lap and pit lane access have their merits, at a cost, however the Fan Village gets an uninterested shrug from me. Having said that, I’m here for the racing not the gimmicks and I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching the F1 on track action.


Well put Andrew.
Anyone recall the mud pit at Watkins Glen ? Was that not the prequel to a “fan zone”?
They should be serving scotch…. neat – what the hell is zero beer for ?


I guess/hope it’s just a start.


I’ll have a Heineken then!


@ LKFE hahaha @0% it would have to be the beer you have when you’re not having a beer.


@ Andrew Halliday…thanks for that. Sounds like ‘cheap, silly and nasty’ like Los Vegas on a stick! All plastic.


Thanks for the feedback


These are big changes, F1 certainly needs it. It sounds like it is being turned into a Nascar or NHRA event here in the states, when we see the U.S Army doing pull up tests with potential recruits the circle will be complete.

I think most of it is great, but I also hope it keeps some of it’s exclusive and snooty charm, F1 didn’t get to where it is by being a Nascar event.


Will Honda engineers be invited to the Mercedes Benz engine exhibit?


Beat me to it 🙂


This has made my day, and stopped me worrying about being awake at 4am to get my flight to Spain tomorrow!

It’s a good question about the openness of this, I notice that the F1 Experience packages have all sold out, so expect those to get preference. I’ll post what I find when I have WiFi. I only have a GA ticket so will have time to wander around 😉


They may need to invest in some brollies, Barcelona just got hit by a thunderstorm this afternoon, after a couple of hours sun and a rainy morning.


I decided this week to pick up Murray Walkers auto biography for the third time. In it he talks about being invited and attending his first ever Indy 500 in 1993.
He mentions the thing that most blew him away was the easy access to not only the drivers but also the pit-lane and the teams, something which was far from the case compared to Formula One.
Good to see Liberty and Chase taking these measures to engage fans in ways we have never seen before.
Looking forward to seeing what else is implemented to draw back the millions of lost fan the sport has lost in the past decade especially with the way the sport is broadcasted in the future.

Rob Cunningham

I agree with you. Surely it’s not difficult. I and my young boys love this sport. Opening up access should not be difficult. Can they not follow what WEC do?


I was hoping fans be invited to lay down rubber at pit exits.
Surely that is an opportunity missed Mr Carey…


Let the party begin!!
Good incentive!!
Great to see some action behind the talking. Well done liberty!!


Is this available to all attending fans or do you have to purchase this extra? Will there be a cost involved? When is this actually taking place?


yes, available to anyone that pays $4240 for a 2 day paddock club pass!!
I might have to pawn one of my Rolexes.


So it’s only available to paddock club passes? Nobody else?


Good stuff, in that FOG itself carries the ball, unlike BE’s reign. That’s a welcome change, because you can’t always rely on the teams to sell the product to the masses. I went to the first four USGP’s at Indy and an abiding memory is the initial lack of effort to sell the product. It got better by ’03, but especially for that first race, the overwhelming vibe was of condescension by the teams toward those of us “in the Colonies.” The team personnel in merchandise/autograph arenas, Arrows excepted, were unenthusiastic. McLaren blew the opportunity to do what they are doing now, leverage their considerable non-F1 history to engage new fans. I don’t recall Johnny Rutherford being present or even mentioned at the McLaren area.
On the whole, It very much came across as, “we’re F1, that’s all you need to know,” and I remember Nigel Roebuck lamenting that attitude.

But now it appears that Liberty is actually going to market the product, rather than simply “hold the commercial rights.” Such an obvious concept, but so radical for F1. These are early days for that, but if it’s the shape of things to come, all kinds of interesting possibilities spring to mind. I’m looking forward to it!


I like the intent but the Paddock club is for the rich, not your average fan.

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