EDITOR’S PICKS: 5 Under-the-Radar F1 Races to Attend in 2024

Looking for inspiration for a new Formula 1 race to visit in 2024? We’ve selected five of our favorite under-the-radar races to attend next year.

The popularity of Formula has exploded in recent years, especially since a new injection of fans during the pandemic (thanks in no small part to the Netflix program, ‘Drive to Survive”), but that doesn’t mean that every race on the calendar has sold-out race day crowds of 150,000 fans like COTA, Albert Park and Silverstone.

In fact, some of the smallest attended races barely attract 40,000 fans through the circuit gates on race day. But precisely because of this lower attendance, we’d argue that attending some of these smaller races offers a much better travel and trackside experience. What smaller races may lack in terms of trackside atmosphere is more than compensated by cheaper race tickets and accommodation, less complicated logistics and fewer trackside queues.

This list is not only about attending the smallest races on the calendar, however. If it was, we would have included Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Bahrain and Baku do happen to be two of the least attended races, but the same cannot be said for Japan and Brazil, where attendance has been on the rise in recent years. Suzuka and Interlagos fly under the radar because they’re seen as being more difficult from the travel perspective, and have historically not drawn a large contingent of international fans.

The list is made up of five races that I’ve personally attended in the past two seasons, all of which left overwhelmingly positive impressions, albeit for different reasons. The fact that the five chosen races are also amongst the cheapest to attend all season (not including travel costs) is an added bonus. Arranged in order of calendar dates, here are five under-the-radar races to attend in 2024!

2024 Bahrain Grand Prix (February 29 – March 2)

The purists’ choice amongst the Middle Eastern races, the Bahrain Grand Prix was the first race to take place in the Gulf region over 20 years ago. The Sakhir circuit hardly ever fails to turn on a good race, especially since becoming a night race in 2014. And you’ll also be one of the first to see the new season’s cars on track.

With race-day attendance hovering around 35,000 fans in recent years, the Bahrain Grand Prix is one of the lowest attended races on the calendar. But that low attendance also makes it one of the most hassle-free races to attend. From excellent covered grandstands at affordable prices to exciting racing under lights, good circuit organization and trackside concerts, we think Bahrain is one of the calendar’s hidden gems. 

Stay in downtown Manama for the best selection of accommodation, often at very competitive prices by F1 standards, and don’t worry about the commute to the track. Traffic is rarely an issue if you want to drive (and there’s plenty of trackside parking available), or take advantage of the free shuttle buses to the circuit from hotels throughout the city.

Bahrain Quick Links

2024 Japanese Grand Prix (April 5-7)

Attending the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka is not only about experiencing one of Formula 1’s best-loved circuits, the scene of so many important moments in the history of the sport over the past 35 years. It’s also very much about discovering the unique culture of Japan. With limited English spoken, Japan can be a challenge for first-time visitors. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll be surprised by the super friendly and respectful locals, the incredible cuisine and the sheer efficiency of the Japanese system. With the Yen weak against most major currencies, a trip to the Japanese Grand Prix is also affordable.

If you are staying in Nagoya like most fans, you’ll need to be on top of your plans for traveling to and from the circuit. Taking the correct trains can be tricky, but you’ll be rewarded with a trackside experience at Suzuka unlike any other on the calendar. Make the most of Free Friday, where you can sit in almost any grandstand you like. And make friends with the local fans! Suzuka also puts on lots of extra activities for fans, including pit lane walks and driver interviews. Race tickets are still relatively affordable and hotel prices are competitive. For Suzuka hospitality, we highly recommend the Champions Club by F1 Experiences. Don’t forget to extend your holiday to discover more of Japan; Nagoya is connected to Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and beyond via regular high-speed Shinkansen trains.

Japan Quick Links

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix (May 17-19)

Autodromo Imola may not be as old or storied as Autodromo Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, but it’s been hosting Formula 1 racing for over forty years. Forever associated with the tragic accidents at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix that claimed the lives of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, Autodromo Imola made an unexpected return to the F1 calendar during the pandemic. It’s probably not a coincidence that the current CEO of Formula 1, Stefano Domenicali, was born in the town of Imola and attended races at the circuit as a youngster.

Formula 1 has arguably outgrown Imola (and Zandvoort for that matter). The circuit’s shortcomings were highlighted last year when severe flooding caused this year’s edition of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to be canceled. But it’s still an incredible venue for motor racing; a circuit that oozes history and old-school charm. The tifosi are some of the most passionate fans on the calendar, and the party extends into the bars and restaurants of Imola on race weekend. 

Stay in Bologna for the best choice of local accommodation; direct trains from Bologna to Imola are frequent, cheap and reliable. Extend your trip for a few days to discover the culture, cuisine, history and motor racing pedigree of Italy’s Motor Valley; the surrounding area is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Ducati and more!

Imola Quick Links

2024 Azerbaijan Grand Prix (September 13-15)

Ask Formula 1 insiders about their favorite race to attend, and you’ll be surprised to hear many of them say Azerbaijan. The race in Baku has gained somewhat of a cult following! The most challenging aspect of attending the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is probably getting to Baku in the first place. Direct flights from Europe are limited and those flying from further afield need to transit in Istanbul or Dubai. But we can assure you that it’s worth the effort! Baku is a fascinating city with a stunning mix of old and new architecture, and the best part is that the racing takes place on the streets in the heart of the city. For the best experience, we recommend staying within walking distance of the circuit.

Once you’ve made it to Baku, you’ll also find one of the cheapest cities on the F1 calendar. Tickets and accommodation are reasonably priced (though we’d recommend choosing a hotel rather than an apartment), and eating out is incredibly cheap. Whilst official attendance figures haven’t been published in recent years, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix remains one of the lowest attended races all season, making for a hassle-free fan experience on race weekend. The fanzone on the foreshore of the Caspian Sea is also one of the best on the calendar. If you are thinking about splashing out on Paddock Club hospitality, Baku is the place to do it. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix offers by far the cheapest entry to the Paddock Club in 2024, with 3-day packages starting from $5,000 USD with F1 Experiences.

Azerbaijan Quick Links

2024 São Paulo Grand Prix (November 1-3)

A calendar fixture for over fifty years, the Interlagos circuit in the suburbs of São Paulo rarely fails to deliver close, unpredictable and exciting racing. Like Japan, Brazil is one of the more challenging races to attend from the travel perspective, especially if you don’t speak Portuguese. But don’t listen to those who say attending this race is risky or dangerous; exercise normal precautions like in any big city, and São Paulo is perfectly safe for visiting Formula 1 fans.

Attend the 2024 São Paulo Grand Prix for fantastic racing and a friendly welcome at one of Formula 1’s oldest and best tracks, plus the opportunity to discover the unique culture of the largest city in South America. Tickets went on sale a few weeks ago and are completely sold out via the promoter, but we still have limited tickets available. For affordable trackside hospitality with excellent views of the circuit from the top of Grandstand B, we recommend the Champions Club by F1 Experiences

Brazil Quick Links

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