Five Things You Need to Know About Attending Your First F1 Race

F1 Track And Spectators. Photo By Kristin Shaw
F1 track and spectators. Photo by Kristin Shaw

Formula One races are already fun, but can be even more fun if you follow our tips.

Many of us fell in love with the world of Formula One (or F1, for short) through the Netflix series, getting to know the life of this glamorous and exciting and maybe even a little mysterious sport. The drivers are polished, their lives are full of excitement and cars are glorious machines: expensive one-seaters built just for the purpose of careening around a track at high speeds.

The 2021 season ended with a thrilling throw down between Lewis Hamilton driving  a Mercedes-Benz and Max Verstappen driving an Acura for Red Bull Racing; Verstappen won the series, bumping previous winner Hamilton from the podium.

The whole thing left us breathless and ready for the next season which gets underway in March.

F1 Races are Bucket-List Destinations

If you’ve followed NASCAR and think all auto racing is the same, well, driving around a track is really the only thing F1 and NASCAR have in common. NASCAR is full of Americana, but F1 is a global series of races run around the world. Every team has a global flavor and every location is a bucket-list worthy destination.

The only stop in North America for this year’s F1 season was in Austin, Texas. Both the crowds and the cars came roaring back to in-person events with enthusiasm, and it was quite a sight. This was my first year at an F1 race, as a guest in the Acura suite, and I learned a lot about how to attend one of these spectacular events in a way that’s going to be the most fun for you. Here are my five top tips to know:

Related: Athena Racing Classes Help Girls Pursue Their Dreams

F1 Family Friendly Area. Photo By Kristin Shaw

F1 Family Friendly Area. Photo: Kristin Shaw

1. F1 races are family friendly.

I can’t speak for F1 races around the world, but in Austin there was plenty to do for kids and families. A whole kid zone is dedicated to off-track fun with rides and games and kid-friendly food. I took a long walk from the VIP area in search of ice cream (it’s a powerful craving, right?) and found it near the carousel. If you’re willing to sit on the lawn, families can get in for about $50 per ticket. Depending on when you arrive, you may end up in a space that sees the cars come around the track in a narrow window. But there is plenty of action and big screens all around you. Several years ago, Formula One races were so loud you’d have to wear noise-cancelling headphones or you’d bust an eardrum. Today, all of the engines are powerful V6s, and yes, it’s loud but not as much of the ear-splitting variety.

Related: 6 Surprising Reasons You Might Love NASCAR Racing

F1 Rides Of A Different Kind

F1 Rides of a different kind. Photo: Kristin Shaw

2. Plan ahead and have backup transportation.

This year in Austin, racegoers experienced long delays for shuttle buses to the parking lots, and in some cases they had to walk two or three miles to get to their cars. I believe that was an anomaly due to the unexpected resurgence of crowds.

Related: Meet Real Housewives with Hybrid Engines: A Girl’s Guide to Formula One

Acura Nsx Front 3/4 Picture. Photo By Kristin Shaw

Acura NSX Front 3/4 Picture. Photo: Kristin Shaw

That said, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid understanding of the lay of the land and where you’ll park in relation to where you’re going to sit.

Acura Nsx Interior Photo By Kristin Shaw

Acura NSX Interior Photo: Kristin Shaw

3. Learn the Formula One driver’s names and numbers ahead of time.

It’s a lot more fun to watch the race when you know who you’re seeing in your window of the track. You may or may not want to pick a favorite and when it comes down to the last few laps it could be anybody’s race. F1 is fast and fun and unpredictable, just like any other sport.

Also, it’s fun to know which automakers are bringing vehicles and how they’re teaming up. For example, Acura returned to F1 this year with Red Bull Racing and drivers Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The AlphaTauri squad, which is Red Bull Racing’s development branch for young drivers, also sported the Acura logo on their suits and helmets. Acura has had a presence at F1 since the 80s and its parent company, Honda, has powered F1 racecars for a long time. When Verstappen was the first to cross the finish line for Red Bull Racing with the Acura logo emblazoned on his car, everyone in the Acura suite erupted in cheers. It was a great moment.

Related: Tons of Women Will Be Racing on a Circuit Near You in 2021

F1 Acura Victory Toast. Photo By Kristin Shaw

F1 Acura Victory Toast. Photo: Kristin Shaw

4. Come prepared.

Pretend you’re going to the beach because you’re going to be in the sun. That means you’ll need a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a water bottle, and light snacks for each person (if the track allows). You’ll also want to take a look at the FAQ section on the website of the track to see what the restrictions are and if only certain types and sizes of handbags and backpacks are allowed. If rain is in the forecast, you’ll want to pack a poncho, too. Umbrellas will most likely be prohibited.

A portable radio with a set of earphones is a good idea – you should be able to follow the action trackside on an FM or AM station. Binoculars will help you see the car numbers as they whiz by. And toss a Sharpie in your bag just in case you have the chance to get an autograph from one of the drivers before the race.

And as I mentioned, while it’s not as loud as it used to be, it’s still loud. Pack a set of earplugs or a noice-canceling headset.

Related: The Exhilaration of Acceleration: 9 Things to Know Before Your 1st Track Driving Lesson

F1 Curve. Photo By Kristin Shaw

F1 Curve. Photo: Kristin Shaw

5. If you have the means, get VIP tickets.

VIP experiences range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, but if money is no object then it’s worth looking into what is available. Look for packages that include close-in parking or even a shuttle from a hotel or other venue. There are suites all around the track and those come with catering and drinks; this would be a blast for a girls’ trip if you pooled your resources with 20 of your friends and got a suite where you can take shelter from the sun and be served by an attentive staff while engaging in a global sport with lots of international flare, even in Austin, Texas.

Netflix has made the intrigue of F1 even more fun; seeing it in person, though, doesn’t compare. The 2022 season can’t start soon enough.

Related: 6 Surprising Reasons You Might Love NASCAR Racing

Acura F1 Suite. Photo By Kristin Shaw

Acura F1 Suite. Photo: Kristin Shaw


Have a thought or comment? Share it with us on social media! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And be sure to sign up for our email newsletter!

Car Shopping

Need a new car? Whether shopping for a new car or a used car we recommend using our car shopping service

Tire Shopping

Need new tires? We recommend Tire Rack

Car Repair

Need to get your car repaired? We recommend Repair Pal. Exclusively just for Girls Guide to Cars readers, call (877) 323-1708 to speak to RepairPal Car Genius for FREE automotive repair advice and if needed to find the right shop for you!

Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw