Formula 1 faces an important question: how do they keep a generation of people engaged in a sport they cannot afford to participate in? ATRL’s Immy Cousins suggests that the answer lies beyond the limits of the race weekend.
Since the inception of the popular Netflix series Drive to Survive, there has been a much greater focus on making F1 for the fans. The sport has always been heavily weighted as entertainment for fans, but the practicalities of attending races are inherently prohibitive. Not only is this due to the time and money needed to participate, but fans are looking for new ways to engage with the sport. This is where experiences like the recently-opened F1 Arcade come in.
The F1 Arcade launched on the 12th of December 2022, a few steps from St Paul’s Cathedral. The bar presents an unmatched experience for fans and non-fans alike. It combines the high-octane thrill of the F1 experience with high-class food and drinks without the price tag of a race weekend ticket. The small touches added to the venue include conceptual decor lighting as well as motoring-themed cocktails, such as ‘Box Box Box’ or ‘The Drive-In’ which even features Ferrari Trento sparkling wine, as seen in the F1 podium celebrations.
“This is all the glamour of a Grand Prix weekend in your city, all year round. The cutting-edge technology, high-class food and beverage, coupled with a jaw-dropping venue design sets a new level of quality.”
– Adam Breeden, Founder and CEO of F1 Arcade
The venue also hosts driving simulators, providing a further opportunity within the sport that many cannot access. The simulator set-up delivers a tailored game specifically for the venue, allowing for various racing modes, competition formats, and levels for all abilities. With the attention to detail placed on the concept construction, there is no doubt it takes the classic Arcade we all visited when we were younger to the next level. The development of this kind of venue not only provides the fan community with a hub of entertainment beyond their living room, but it also values the high-class experience of a dream visit to a Grand Prix and delivers it at a more accessible vantage point.
The glass ceiling for fans is being recognised and appreciated by their sport. During the most recent season specifically, significant steps have been made to blend the approachability and connections between the fans and the actors of the sport, in doing so, breaking the fourth wall. The only way to develop and maintain the sport and its community over the coming years is to reduce the divide between the sport, the elite viewers and the regular fans.
Whilst F1 are creating their own experience away from the track, teams within the sport are also curating their own events beyond the race weekend. During the 2022 season, Williams Racing set up pop-up stores local to the circuit where various events were held, where they hosted free-to-attend Q&As and Meet and Greets with team members. Anyone could attend and experience the engagement with the team and community without having to be within the boundaries of a circuit.
Not only are the team widening the race weekend experience outside of the circuit, but they also continue to increase fans’ access to the team facilities. This comes with the recent announcement of the team opening their sim lounge at the Grove Facility for public Esports events.
With the fan community growing, the sport continues to enable and constrain a regular fan’s opportunities. Criticism towards the price of Grand Prix tickets continues to increase whilst other events and experience hubs targeted at the fans are rising. Suppose the appreciation and tailoring towards the fans continue. In that case, one could hope that F1 will become more than a sport we watch 23 weekends a year and instead a way we can socialise and connect not just online but as a global living community.
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