F1 Miami — if you can't afford to pay then don't expect to play

20 April 2023 - 09:13
By Hannah Elliott
Formula 1 is a big moneymaker for the cities that host its races. Last year, the first-ever F1 Miami Grand Prix brought $350m new spending to the city via hotel bookings, decadent nights out and advertising revenue, according to data compiled by Applied Analysis.
Image: Chris Graythen/Getty Images Formula 1 is a big moneymaker for the cities that host its races. Last year, the first-ever F1 Miami Grand Prix brought $350m new spending to the city via hotel bookings, decadent nights out and advertising revenue, according to data compiled by Applied Analysis.

Formula 1 is a big moneymaker for the cities that host its races. Last year, the first-ever F1 Miami Grand Prix brought $350m (R6.3bn) in new spending to the city via hotel bookings, decadent nights out and advertising revenue, according to data compiled by Applied Analysis. Racing fans spent an average of $1,940 (R35,229) per person at the race — double what the typical Miami tourist spends, Front Office Sports reported. 

“You can visibly see how the event brings the city to life,” says Charles Khabouth, CEO and founder of INK Entertainment, which owns and operates multiple Miami restaurants including Byblos, Amal Miami and Level 6 in nearby Coconut Grove.

“I know first-hand the great impact that international events like this have on the local economy, with the influx of tourists and increased foot traffic for local businesses. The appeal of Formula 1 is undeniable.”

The spending is likely to creep even higher on May 5-7 at the Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix. Ticket prices on the official race website start at $880 (R15,980) for three-day passes and stretch past $5,000 (R90,797) per person for three-day grandstand seating that includes access to the track during qualifying rounds.

StubHub lists them starting at $416 (R7,548) per person on Sunday’s final race day; TickPick lists them for as little as $452 (R8,202), though most ask around $1,400 (R25,405). It’s the second-most-expensive price for any race on the F1 calendar, behind the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November while ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, which famously brought $70,000 (R1.27m) bottle service at some clubs during last year’s race weekend. 

F1 organisers are working hard to capitalise on growing interest in F1 on the part of US audiences, having added 3,000 seats to the grandstands this year for a total of 56,000. Official race packages that include grandstand seating and a photo on the winner’s podium start at around $1,299 (R23,568) per person; access to a separate grandstand tier level called the Champion’s Club, plus pit access, costs $3,999 (R72,557) per person for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Additional accommodations arranged by F1 at the Fontainbleau Miami Beach bring the total price to $6,149 (R111,566).

Repeat attendees at the Miami race will notice improvements to the Paddock Club, an exclusive space that offers such things as Cincoro Tequila tastings and pairings with Petrossian Caviar. The club house now offers three separate tiers with room for more than 6,000 guests in private suites that overlook team garages and bring excellent track views. Tickets for entry to these are currently running at $14,199 (R257,623).  

Meanwhile, private vendors are selling packages that include the chance to meet F1 drivers and tour the track, plus hotel transfers. Seat Unique is offering Miami F1 entry packages starting at $2,077 (R37,693) for grandstand general seating and rising to $16,600 (R301,254) for VIP seats and higher. Grand Prix Grand Tours offers packages that include race tickets, pit walks, transfers to and from the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, flights and hotel accommodations. Prices start at $2,235 (R40,560) per person. A company called Ultimate Driving Tours offers packages including helicopter transfers, trackside suites on Saturday and Sunday, and five-star hotel rooms for $20,000 (R362,956) per person. Similar packages at Grand Prix Tours are already sold out; those sold by Roadtrips cost $32,815 (R595,521)

Automakers themselves are offering opportunities to spend as well. McLaren Automotive, part of McLaren Group that owns the F1 racing team, will host the McLaren Race House, a multilevel, open-air structure at which McLaren Automotive CEO Michael Leiters and retired F1 driver Bruno Senna (the nephew of three-time F1 champion Ayrton Senna) will hold court. A three-day pass to the McLaren Race House offers circuit views and commentary from McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, lead driver Lando Norris and former F1 champ Mika Hakkinen. On the Saturday night, guests will have exclusive access to view new McLaren cars. Tickets start at $8,495 R154,164).

Oracle Red Bull Racing offers special hospitality packages that include Paddock Club access, pit walks, gift bags and garage tours starting around $899 R16,314) per person. All packages for the Miami race have sold out, according to its website. 

Race access is just the beginning for the money to be spent in the Magic City. True to form, Miami will be bursting with special hotel packages, parties, private dinners and $100,000-a-table clubs (R1.8m) , all orientated to make F1 attendees believe that the best race of the year happens in Florida. 

More than 65 restaurants representing the best local eateries will span the F1 campus, including those led by award-winning chefs Michelle Bernstein, Brad Kilgore, and Lorena Garcia. Some big headlines have gone to the dinners served at Carbone Beach. A pop-up restaurant (based on Carbone in New York City) that Mario Carbone developed especially for the Miami race in 2022, it attracted such celebrities as David Beckham, LeBron James and the Williams sisters last year, plus a host of Wall Street power players. This year, seats at Carbone Beach will double to 400 per night. Champagne, vintage wines and tequila bottles will dress each table; ice sculptures will chill trays laden with toro and uni. Carbone himself will be cooking each night, according to a previous Bloomberg report. 

“The Tomahawk rib-eyes are already ageing,” Jeff Zalaznick, a co-founder of Major Food Group, which operates Carbone, told Bloomberg. It’ll be “more caviar hand rolls than anyone can eat,” he said. Tickets cost $3,000 (R54,444) per person, which includes food, drinks and entertainment. Tables start at $24,000 (R435,553), which can be requested via wait-list on the Carbone website. 

Across town, Massimo Bottura is hosting collaborative F1 dinners for far more, at $6,000 (R108,888) per person. His Once Upon a Kitchen event promises extreme levels of culinary talent in one room: Bottura, the chef of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant based in Modena, Italy, will be joined by Juan Manuel Barrientos of Miami's Michelin-starred El Cielo and chef Bernardo Paladini of Michelin-starred Torno Subito in Dubai. After the six-course dinner, a nightly after-party will be mixed by electro-house DJ and producer Benny Benassi.  

Hospitality giant Mathieu Massa just opened the 23,000-square-foot Queen Miami Beach, a $40m (R726m) Japaneserestaurant and lounge. Organisers say the place is sold out every weekend — and has booked two separate entire-venue buyouts during the F1 races, contracted for just under $500,000 (R9m) for 400 guests and $800,000 (R14.5m) for 300 guests. 

“F1 Miami isn't just a race, it's an opportunity for our city to showcase the best of what we have to offer,” says Mathieu Massa, CEO and founder of Mr. Hospitality, which owns and operates Queen Miami Beach, Marion and El Tucan. “As the exhilaration of the races builds outside, Queen will provide the ultimate luxurious atmosphere inside, where guests can unwind and relish in a high-energy dining destination inspired by the halcyon days of 20th century European supper clubs.”

Revellers will have ample opportunity to dance off dinner at parties and nightclubs around the city. E11even, one of the most popular clubs in Miami, will host a slew of famous talent during race weekend: Rick Ross, DJ Snake, deadmau5, a surprise guest and Tiesto will each perform for a night from March 3 to 7. Tickets at the door cost $30 (R544) to $100 (R1,814) per person, depending on the night; table packages start at $5,000 (R90,746) and go up to $200,000 (R3.6m) — plus tax and tip — for velvet rope access to the main pit that will accommodate 100 people with food and beverages all night. LIV, another longtime nightlife hotspot, will host Zedd, Tiesto and Maluma. Tickets there start at $75 (R1,361) per person; tables start at $4,000 (R72,596) and reach $20,000 (R362,984) for one located on the dance floor. At the party where Diplo and Claptone will perform at the Toejam Backlot in the Wynwood Art District, general admission tickets cost $125 (R2,268) while backstage lounge tickets run to $500 (R9,074) apiece. A “skybox” table costs $35,000 (R635,229), including space for 30 guests, at least 12 bottles of alcohol and Champagne, a dedicated host, private security and waitstaff. 

The most exclusive and desirable events of the weekend will be truly priceless. Many parties and galas at the race are by invitation only. On May 3, Italian manufacturer Laffite Automobili will launch five electric hypercars during a private event trackside, open only to invited friends of the brand. After the debut, those guests will dine together at Villa Azur, a French-Mediterranean hotspot on Miami Beach; if you’re not on the supercar guest list, the restaurant is taking special reservations for F1 weekend. Plan early to reserve the best tables. Elsewhere, Khabouth’s Sofia restaurant is partnering with Miami Supercar Rooms and the CP Group to host an invitation-only brunch that will merge fashion and speed with participating brands such as Dolce and Gabbana, Ralph Lauren and IWC Schaffhausen, he says. After brunch, guests will be invited to shop privately at those retailers.

Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy, the Ritz-Carlton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team are offering motorsport fans nearly a dozen packages that include such experiences as a sleepover on the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team yacht and a hot lap around a race circuit in a high-performance Mercedes-AMG car driven by a Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team driver. (Members use points earned from travel and everyday activities to bid on the packages.) The Mercedes team party on May 5 will be strictly private, but if you can figure out a way to get in, it’ll be worth it. Lewis Hamilton, the sport’s biggest star, seven-time world champion, and the more charismatic half of the Mercedes driving team, is sure to be there. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com