Formula 1: Everything you need to know about attending a race in 2021

Millions of F1 fans around the world can’t wait to return to the track this year, but it’s going to be difficult during the first half of the season.

 Main image: Thursday at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix ©


Almost one year ago, the first race of the 2020 Formula 1 season in Melbourne was cancelled at the last minute due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 season wouldn’t end up beginning at the Red Bull Ring in Austria until July, and the vast majority of the 17 events that Formula 1 did successfully run last year were held behind closed doors.

Last November, Formula 1 announced plans for a record 23-race calendar in 2021. Many keen observers felt the calendar was overly optimistic given the ongoing threat from COVID-19. It was no surprise to see updates announced to the 2021 calendar last month. Formula 1 was never going to undergo a 2-week quarantine to race in Melbourne and the 2021 Australian Grand Prix has now been moved to November, between the Brazilian Grand Prix and the new race in Saudi Arabia.

With less than three weeks until the beginning of the 2021 season in Bahrain, how are the prospects for returning safely to the track as a spectator this year?

It seems increasingly likely that attending many early-season races will be compromised by ongoing travel restrictions around the world. It’s probably going to be possible to attend a race in your home country (or by driving across some borders in Europe perhaps) but flying long-haul to a race on the other side of the world seems unlikely before later in the season.

Bahrain tickets finally on sale, but there’s a catch

A limited number of tickets are finally on sale for the opening race of the season in Bahrain on March 26-28, not including hospitality or the Formula 1 Paddock Club. To attend the race in Bahrain, spectators will need to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recently recovered from the virus. Such restrictions are unlikely to be the norm in 2021, however.

Three weeks later, the European season begins at Autodromo Imola, but organizers have not yet announced details of whether fans will be allowed to attend the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. After the cancellation of the Vietnam Grand Prix, the third race of the season has finally been confirmed to take place at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal – as with last year, a limited number of spectators are expected to be able to attend the race in Portimão but ticket sales have not yet begun.

In May, the F1 calendar begins to resemble what it has looked like in recent seasons with the Spanish Grand Prix on May 7-9 and the Monaco Grand Prix on May 20-23. Tickets for the race in Barcelona are now on sale, but the offer is limited to just a handful of grandstands with extensive social distancing policies in place. The construction of Circuit de Monaco is also underway, and thousands of tickets have already been sold for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, which has been confirmed to take place with fans in attendance.

The issue for international fans hoping to attend one of these early-season races continues to be the ever-changing international travel restrictions. Citizens from the UK are still not allowed to travel internationally until at least May 17 – and this date may be extended. The need to quarantine on arrival in many countries, or when returning home from certain countries, is a further complication.

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix to be held behind closed doors

Late last week, it was announced that the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku will be held behind closed doors. It’s the first race of the record-breaking 2021 season to be confirmed as having no spectators, though it seems likely that it won’t be the last.

The organizers are hoping to run the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix with a limited number of spectators, but tickets are not yet on sale and the Canada-US border remains closed. Returning to Europe, tickets are now on sale for the races leading up to the summer break in France, Austria, Britain and Hungary. It’s worth noting that the promoter of the French Grand Prix is only offering the possibility of transferring your tickets  (rather than refunds) should the race be postponed or cancelled this year; so far this is the only race we know in 2021 of that will not offer full refunds for a force majeure event.

The prospects for a large number of fans being able to attend the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this year have also been increased by the UK government’s strong progress on the vaccine rollout and plans to remove all restrictions by June 21.

International travel looks more likely in the second half of the 2021 F1 season

As major countries vaccinate large numbers of their population and international travel opens again, it’s reasonable to be more confident about attending fly-away races in the second of the season.

Following the summer break, the 2021 F1 calendar kicks into high gear with three triple headers and 12 races in 16 weeks between the Belgian Grand Prix and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 10-12. Tickets are already on sale for the Belgian Grand Prix (August 27-29) and the return of the Dutch Grand Prix one week later (September 3-5), but ticket sales have not yet begun for the Italian Grand Prix (September 10-12).

After a short break, Formula 1 resumes with back-to-back races in Russia (September 24-26), Singapore (October 1-3) and Japan (October 8-10). Of this triple header, tickets are only on sale for the Russian Grand Prix.

The next triple header sees Formula 1 head to the Americas for three races in three weekends, beginning with the United States Grand Prix at COTA (October 22-24) and followed by the Mexico City Grand Prix (October 29-31) and the Sao Paulo Grand Prix (November 5-7). Tickets are already available in Mexico, where the home support for Sergio Pérez is expected to be even stronger this year now that the Mexican driver is with the leading Red Bull team.

General ticket sales have not yet begun for the final three races of the season; the rescheduled Australian Grand Prix (November 18-21), the brand new Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on a street circuit in Jeddah (December 3-5) and the traditional season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (December 12).

How will the trackside experience look in 2021?

The trackside experience is likely to be heavily compromised in the first half of the season, though a return to some kind of normality is possible later this year. As well as the requirement to be temperature tested at the gate, wear a mask at all times within the circuit and observe social distancing, it’s likely that many trackside activities such as pit lane walks and driver autograph sessions will not take place. We also don’t expect there will be any access to the Paddock for corporate or hospitality guests until at least the Belgian Grand Prix in late August.  

Some races in the early part of the season also have heavily reduced ticket offers, with tickets for many popular grandstands and General Admission areas not available. Access within the circuit is also expected to be restricted, preventing you from checking out different vantage points away from your nominated seat.

Learn more about the current fan experience in Jane’s report from the 2020 Portuguese Grand Prix.

How can I protect myself when planning an F1 trip in 2021?

We’d normally recommend planning your trip as early as possible to take advantage of early-bird ticket deals and secure the best local accommodation, but it seems prudent to adopt a wait-and-see approach this year given the continuing uncertainty over exactly when life will return to a ‘new normal’ after COVID-19. If you do decide to plan an F1 trip (especially during the first half of the season), we recommend making sure your reservations for tickets, accommodation and flights are flexible or fully refundable in the event that local regulations change, or the race is postponed/cancelled.

Before you do go ahead and start booking your trip to a race, we also recommend checking official government websites from your own country and the country where you are planning to travel, as different regulations around vaccination, testing and quarantine currently apply.

Attending a race in your home country (if you are lucky to have one) will be the safest way to see Formula 1 in 2021. Driving rather than flying to a race (e.g., across open borders in Europe or from the USA to Canada) is another way you can both stay safe and more in control of your travel plans.

We recommend booking your race tickets from our partners, Grand Prix Tickets, who source directly from the race promoters and clearly state refund and rebooking conditions.

We also work closely with F1 Experiences, the Official Experience, Hospitality & Travel Programme of Formula 1. Official Ticket Packages are now available for the majority of races this year (even for many of the races we’ve indicated above where general ticket sales have not yet started) and F1 Experiences offers a 100% transfer guarantee and refundable booking options for additional peace of mind.

Our accommodation partner also offers free cancellation on most bookings, which is an option definitely worth taking up in 2021.

Which race are you planning to attend in 2021? Leave a comment below.


28 thoughts on “Formula 1: Everything you need to know about attending a race in 2021”

  1. I am trying to find price of general admission tickets for Sunday Oct 24 at COTA in Austin F1 race.

    1. We should know more very soon about ticket prices for 2021 and when ticket sales begin. I don’t have the single-day prices from 2019 to hand, but they would have been only a bit less than the 3-day price, which was $175 early bird / $195 regular price. Hope that helps

  2. concerned_fan

    COTA held a NASCAR race this weekend with what looked like full fan capacity. I did not attend, but I notice from watching the televised summary of the race, it doesn’t seem that any of the drivers or crew wore masks or followed any precautions for COVID-19. This is a big contrast to what I saw from watching the Formula 1 Grand Prix De Monaco 2021 on television this weekend. It looked like the Monaco stands were about half full or less in some areas of the track. The races in Italy, Portugal, and Spain seemed to have very little to zero amount of fans in the stands.

  3. We stupidly bought tickets for the Austrian Grand Prix back in December expecting life to be back to normal but have just been informed we’re not entitled to a refund as the event is still going ahead yet there are no flights from the UK due to Austria’s no land rule and it’s on the amber list for the UK so not essential. Gutted, frustrated and annoyed at booking tickets. Think carefully before booking as it’s a lot of money to loose.

    1. Really sorry to hear that Nicky. Have you thought about trying to sell the tickets on a market like StubHub? If you’d like us to put a post on our social media with the details as well, we may be able to help you sell them. Feel free to send me an email: [email protected]

  4. Hi, I just booked ticket for Belgium race in august and I did not check if we have to be vaccinated to attend, I currently cannot be vaccinated due to fact I’m pregnant. Am I still able to attend if I have not been vaccinated.

    1. Hi Carly, the general rule of thumb for attending F1 events this year is that you will need to be either recently recovered from COVID-19, fully vaccinated OR show a negative PCR test that’s less than 72 hours old. So yes, if you bring a test result you should still be able to attend. Good luck with your new arrival :)

  5. Hi, I wanted to know when will the tickets for the 2021 Italian GP will be available? And also, will there be fans? Thank you.

    1. Hi Orestis, still waiting for an update when tickets will go on sale for the Italian GP. I do believe the race will be run with fans (maybe with some restrictions).

  6. Hi, it’s our first time to a Grand Prix & we’re heading to Silverstone. How early should we be there for on Sat & Sun and what is the dress code for the Champions Club?

    1. Hi Pauline, you can learn more on this link. Smart casual dress for the Champions Club is fine. Here are the opening times for the Champions Club at Silverstone in 2021:

      Saturday: 09:45 – 19:00
      Sunday: 10:30 – 18:00

  7. Hi, I am thinking of booking tickets (general admission) for Hungarian Grand Prix. Do you believe they will be so crowded and is there any possibility to cancel the event now or this kind of tickets? I don’t remember if there was a race with general admission in 2021 and how was that.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Filia, I do believe there will be quite a large crowd in the General Admission in Hungary this year. But there are big open spaces to watch the action, so I’m sure you can find less crowded spots to watch. The recent Austrian Grand Prix had General Admission, and so too will this weekend’s British Grand Prix. I don’t believe there will be any cancellation or restriction of people attending the Hungarian Grand Prix this year. Go for it and enjoy!

  8. Antonia Iulia Cîmpan

    Hello, I am going to attend the Hungarian Grand Prix, and I’m from Romania. Citizens from my country do not need to present a negative CoVid Test at the border or proof of vaccination considering the fact that we are in an area with very few cases. Taking into consideration that travelling to Hungary doesn’t require a CoVid Test, my question is: for participating at the race, is it necessary to show a negative CoVid Test or proof of vaccination? Thank you very much!

  9. We are from the USA, fully vaccinated as of April, purchased Spa GP VIP tickets in May, and we just received an email that says non-EU or non-UK spectators are not allowed to attend, even if fully vaccinated (even though we can enter Belgium without the need to quarantine). It makes absolutely no sense.

    The COVID Safe Ticket apparently only works if you are a resident of the EU or UK per the Spa GP website…. it would make too much sense if a US or Canadian visitor could just take a PCR test and input the code to get clearance to attend. Heaven forbid governments use any sort of rational approach in allowing visitors/spectators outside the EU/UK….They are allowing unvaccinated EU residents to take a COVID test (on site) and get a code to attend, but will not apply that same logic to non-EU resident (vaccinated) ticket holders.

    1. Not that I can find yet – but the standard for attending a race this year is to either be fully vaccinated, recently recovered or provide a negative test for COVID-19. Have you got your tickets yet? The event will only run at 50% capacity and tickets are now completely sold out.

  10. Hello!
    We are attending the Italian GP this weekend and as I understand the gates open at 9 am, we will not be able to make it until a little bit later, around 10 am because of our flight.
    Is there any restriction related to entry onto the circuit after the gates open?
    Thank you!

  11. Hello,
    I am flying from Delhi tomorrow to Sochi to watch the race and i have bought ticket from Viagogo. How can i check if the tickets are genuine ? I have negative covid report with me.

  12. Hi everyone,

    after the fiasco of the Belgian GP and the fraudulent way they ran 2 laps to try and say that that had a race…to avoid refunds so that the Big wigs – Stefano Dominicali and the rest can get away with all that money is really sad. In effect you get this perception of a Ponzi Scheme.

    – The Belgian GP was poor.
    – The Au Rouge corner stand was horrible and almost 5 miles from the drop off pointy.
    – There were poorly build pedestrian bridges that were not safe and there was at least one person who suffered injury in the wet condition.
    – The paths from the poorly constructed gates – basically barriers – were loose and middy gravel for almost 3 miles to the actual Au rouge stand,
    – The seats at the au rouge stand were basically so narrow that you could not even fit half your ass on it.
    -So again… the traffic and internal coordination of the people entering was dire irrespective of the weather.

    On Saturday we just got a bit of the qualifying. We walked out after the race and had to wait 1 hour for our pick up. Instead of taking our bus to the parking area we asked our pickup to come get us otherwise that would have been another nightmare- it took us 30 seconds to get in the car as it was already stationery in traffic. We left the area and it took us 1 hour to clear the 4 km out and we finally got home – Brussels at 10pm. The Belgian Police are real cow boys… they put their sirens to pass us as they drive through existing traffic to Spa and again sirens through existing traffic to leave spa… so they really never help solve the traffic problem. You don’t need police to solve a traffic problem… just better organisation.

    The police are basically directing traffic … there should be some use of strategy… allow cars to drop passengers and go – taxis or even private car drop offs that are not parking near the circuit. This will allow drop offs nearer La Source. But you can model the whole thing ahead of the next one as you have cameras everywhere.

    On Sunday we left Brussels at 9am in the morning and after a stop 20 minute toilet stop …we were at 11am to 4km from the circuit and that took 3 hours to get to the circuit (that is 1.5 KM per hour). But had instead of going to the parking we got him to drop us off at Rue Emile Goedert… at the top of the hill and its sad that you do not allow cars or taxis to drop people off down the hill and leave as it does have police men who can allow cars to stand for 30seconds and leave and that would allow more parking for spectators. That would have cut our walk down by 1 hour and also reduced people taking the buses… to and from the parking areas and less buses causing congestion. A girl who had booked the yellow parking was turned away as she did not get a slot as they had overbooked and she had to take the bus to the new parking slot. She was really annoyed with F1.
    Would you know the distance from Rue Emile Goedert to the Gold 3 stand? Gosh its like walking for miles through rough terrain.
    There is a restaurant at Rue Goedert on the main street near the round about who has put scaffolding to allow more capacity on the sidewalks and this creates congestions for spectators passing through and walking down the hill.
    We then had to walk down the hill and for some stupid reason around the roundabout at La source as it just had gaping police men there to allow the VIPs in… which is really sad as they are not worth the trouble.

    We then slushed down the hill and there were some red bull umbrellas that helped with the respite from the rain.
    The path is loose gravel and mud all the way down. YOU could just have a road as seen in the parking alongside to allow people to walk down the hill instead of all that mud and loose stone.

    The stewards should be in two lines fonts one to ask people to have their doc s/tickets ready…. and its easier to have signs saying walk to the left to allow movement in both directions.
    We got to our seats at 2.45 pm and obviously missed out on the driver’s parade.

    The extra stadium seating that was put near that dire fighter plane was unnecessary and not even 20% capacity.
    That should have been the drop off point.
    And then you had a two-way pedestrian bridge that some village idiot thought was a great idea just to allow access for service and other VIP cars. A person was injured that yesterday evening and an ambulance had to be called probably further exacerbating the traffic.
    The toilets are dire and every so often a truck needs to come in amongst the pedestrians to suck all the shit out not to mention those 4-wheel (quad) motorbikes that weave in and out of the crowd causing further disruption… and splashing and lushing mud all over the pedestrians and their shoes.
    They were actually closing down and instead of prioritising crowd safety and doing all this after they were trying to move around… and you should see the trouble disable bodied fans go through… it’s really sad.

    The seats are uncomfortable and so tightly fitting and a lot of the fans got wet. The stands need to have seats about 8 inches higher from row to row as we still could not get good view and the area under the stands are dire… like walking through mud and stone.
    You need to take the drivers through these areas for them to see the shit their fans ensure … more as a result of a first time visit and being ignorant to the experience. They do not race as one. The Au Rouge stand was like scaffolding over a building rubble site and the toilets … gosh absolutely dire.

    Spoke to Daniel M and Matt K at the [email protected] site but they have no idea that they are just selling tickets for a really horrible experience…. all they say is sorry, we apologise… but they still take your money.

    Tell you what Mr Stefano Dominecali.. give me a page on the Belgian website on the F1 page and I can provide pictures and a true hand experience of what crap the experience really is? Up for it?
    Also, and if you want to discuss and make things better let me know and I will give you a more detailed view of all the crap we went through… The drivers don’t race as one…they need to see the difference in standards and the daylight robbery the fans get to what they pay for…. and if some idiot still wants to come along you may as well charge them double.
    If you get the opportunity/… walk around the circuit today and have a look.

    Hamilton was right … The Belgian GP was a farce … sad that none of you in the F1 team were brave enough to say that.

    SO MY MESSAGE TO ALL YOU FANS OUT THERE….DO NOT BOOK ANY F1 TICKETS ever… you may as well just watch it on TV and that too on catchup… forget all this live SKY and other subscriptions to watch it live… just a waste of time.

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