Fans angered by alcohol ban at Spanish Grand Prix

Like us, you probably enjoy drinking a cold beer or two at the track when you are watching the action. This wasn’t possible at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, where organisers angered many fans by enforcing a total alcohol ban.

The following text appeared on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya website this year, though the majority of fans failed to notice it before arriving at the circuit:

The sale of and access to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with alcoholic beverages is forbidden. Soft-drinks and alcohol-free beer will be available for sale at the different sales points inside the facilities. In order to access Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with beverages, please be reminded that following the regulations of Royal Decree 203/2010 from 26 February, the containers must be made of plastic, laminated paper or similar material and in no case may be heavier than 500 grams in weight or 500 millilitres in volume.  The security and control staff at the access gates reserves the right to take off the caps and covers of the containers. Containers made of metal, glass, ceramics, wood or any other similar material cannot be taken into the facilities.

The reasons for this year’s ‘dry’ race remain unclear, but we have been told unofficially that it was the result of a ‘licensing issue’; the venue had failed to secure the right permits to sell alcohol at the race in 2015, for whatever reason. Our request for an explanation from the Spanish Grand Prix organizers has not been answered.

Understandably, this decision angered many fans, some of whom have taken to social media and other online forums to complain. Many fans also felt ‘duped’ for not being made aware that the overpriced beer on sale inside the circuit (at up to €11 for a large) was of the alcohol-free variety. The insistence from trackside workers that the screwtop lids be removed from all drink containers further enraged many fans.

Here’s what some of you said (originally comments were posted on our Trackside guide to the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix and our Facebook page):

  • ‘A lot of people were duped last weekend into paying €11 for a non-alcoholic beer. The food offering was dreadful and I think it lead to a very flat atmosphere within the circuit. The no bottle cap rule is crazy, it makes no sense at all. We had a good weekend overall, but a very disappointing experience from the circuit. Possibly one to avoid for next year unless they get their act together.’ Steve
  • ‘I went today and didn’t know about it. We wandered in expecting to grab a beer and sit in our seats. We got to the ‘bar’ and saw the 3 beer sizes and I thought, that’s expensive. Then the guy next to me says to me it’s alcohol free, I said WTF!? Came all the way from Australia for this race and we’re totally pissed off . We’ll NEVER be back to Spain after this. I urge every F1 fan to boycott this race and plan to go to a more fan friendly Europe F1 that let’s you have a beer/wine/spirit.  At least the weather and the seats we have are awesome….’ Sos

What do you think? Would you still go to a ‘dry’ Grand Prix? Leave your comments below.


18 thoughts on “Fans angered by alcohol ban at Spanish Grand Prix”

  1. Stephen fisher

    Makes total sense now, thought my brother and I had gone proper hard core and drink loads… 2014 was the best experience I ever had so was keen to come back but was leave very flat this just wasn’t the same, this was my holiday on my birthday, I only have one and came away very flat and now feel VERY ripped off,
    Just glad the towns outside were very hospitable ..
    A BIG question mark if I will come back,

  2. Unfortunately I’m here now and only finding out about the ban. Would have given it a miss had I’d known.
    And yes we have travelled from Australia!

    1. Hi Gail. The Spanish GP is one of my favorites, despite the alcohol ban. Don’t worry about it. Insider tip – there are bars serving real alcohol just outside Gates 1 and 6. You can get a passout between the on-track action for a quick drink! Enjoy the weekend. Andrew

  3. I was there today and can confirm the sale of the alcohol free beer was very misleading. The beer said “cerveza sense alcohol”. Why not “cerveza sin alcohol” which is normally how they would say it. Even then it was setup to look and sell like the real deal. I came from the USA and had no idea. I wouldn’t have come had I known about this.

  4. We got caught day 1 at the F1 by the Heineken 0.0 beer. Terrible trap for €12 a beer. 5 good friends meeting in Barcelona from Australia and Canada and have to take pass out to drink beer. While the race and the track were great the food and drinks were horrific.

  5. It is a definite no for myself and my wife no beer and no wine left halfway through the race to get a drink what is going on we don’t have punch ups at GP or rugby only football thugs do that wake up and get the beer back after all is it not sponsored by a beer company???

  6. My friend and I attend a F1 race every year. This was the first track without any alcohol. I was thinking I would be drinking Cava and enjoying the race. We had no idea about the alcohol ban. Also as bad was the food. It took us half an hour to stand in line to buy a ticket to get some paella. There was only one paella pan for the entire half of the circuit. Needless to say they sold out quickly. They even sold out of hamburgers. Things were slowed down because we could not have bottle caps. We were told bottle caps can hit people in the eye. Really? I work in insurance and have never heard that before. Then if you order a can of soda, they have to pour it in the cup for you. Cans are also not allowed. Not to mention the people operating the concession stands were brain dead. They took about 4 minutes looking at the menu before being able to decide which ticket to give us. There were basically only 4 options. Aramark is an established company. They should be ashamed.

  7. i was there twice and i am going again this year by surprise yes it is true they banned the bottle taps and beer they will throw them away in rubblish . this is a very rubblish thing to do to the fans that they pay a lot of money to see the race and you had to buy the bootle of coke for 4 euro inside when out side it is 2.50 and the year was 2003 and 2011 so inmage this year how much they are ???? In hungary gran prix it is much better you can take anything and it was a record of people and no trouble and it was a very nice race

    1. hi Patrick, a coke (poured into a plastic cup) inside the circuit costs about 4 EUR I think. Beer is more expensive, but it’s got no alcohol in it. You can go outside some of the gates (1, 6) and get cheaper drinks including real beer, then come back into the circuit.

  8. My friend and I go to a few grand Prix and this is the first timewith no alcohol. Get the Johnnie walker stands over here …. Beautiful warm weather and no ice cold beer to go with it… WILL NOT BE COMING HERE AGAIN

  9. Was going to spend 800 euro to come here with my wife and son! but after reading this absaloutly no chance! what a way to treat fans who are spending a small fortune and cant even enjoy a drink whilst enjoying the race,

  10. Is it possible to leave the track during the F1 weekend days to get a beer outside the circuit? I mean in and out whenever I want?

    1. Yes it is John. There’s bars serving normal alcohol outside several of the gates at the circuit – for sure Gate 1 (near Grandstand G) and also Gate 6 (near the first corner).

      1. What’s the rules on bringing your own alcohol with you? Will they let you in if you have a few plastic bottles filled with beer? We’re attending this year and just want to know wether or not to bother buying beer to take or just stock up a bag with cokes and dr peppers. Thankyou.

        1. You can’t bring your own alcohol into the circuit, and there’s still no real beer served in the fanzones inside the circuit. But you have some bars right outside some of the gates where you can have a drink – even get a pass out and come back. As for bringing other drinks, you may encounter the issue where they will only let you in without bottle caps – very annoying, but ok if you put a couple of spare ones in your pocket beforehand!

  11. Hi, we are travelling on Friday, we love a drink in the sun whilst watching the f1. Is it possible to sneak alcohol in? Can’t believe it.

    1. No I don’t think you will be able to sneak alcohol in. But up to you. Don’t forget you can always go outside some of the gates where they have bars serving real alcohol. No problem to get a pass out and come back in.

  12. Absolutely appalled by the organisation of the whole thing. Extortionate prices for alcohol free beer, a severely limited selection of sub standard food I wouldn’t give to my dog, and outrageous prices for warm bottled water. The ridiculous queueing times for refreshments were unreal, on the Friday it was over an hour for a queue with less than 20 people in it… one person at each till who was pouring the ‘drinks’ (assuming they’d not run out of the cup size I wanted), wandering around to get the food, and operating the card machine. The whole thing was a shambles and let to a complete lack of atmosphere for the weekend. The circuit organisers should visit Budapest and see how they do it… the queues for drinks and for food are separate, more staff meaning one operates the fill, one gets the drinks, someone else gets the food speeds things up immeasurably. And having the beer in cans makes the process faster still. I did find a lone vendor tucked away in the trees on the inside of turn 5 who was selling the ‘beer’ in cans; he was busy but waiting times were at an absolute minimum which was good to see.
    And then there’s the lack of freely available running water around the circuit so people can keep themselves cool. Again, Budapest has this.
    I’m normally very easy to please, just get the basics right and I’m more than happy. This event sadly did not tick any of those basic boxes. Fortunately the racing in all categories turned out to be decent. One thing is for certain, as much as I love this sport I won’t be returning to Barcelona.

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