Sell-Out Spanish Grand Prix Encounters Organisational Issues

The 2022 Spanish Grand Prix weekend attracted a total of 277,836 fans, with the track recording its highest race day attendance figure since 2008. However, many were left unimpressed by organisational issues over the race weekend which were branded as “not acceptable” by Formula 1.

Max Verstappen charged to his fourth victory of the 2022 season at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Dutchman’s win saw him take the championship lead for the first time this year, with title rival Charles Leclerc having retired from the lead with power unit issues. A 1-2 result for Red Bull promoted them to the top of the standings in the Constructors’ Championship.

277,836 fans passed through the turnstiles over the 4-day Spanish Grand Prix weekend. That number is up by an impressive 117,000 on the last Spanish Grand Prix weekend which fans were able to attend in 2019. The race was run without spectators in 2020 and only 1,000 fans were able to watch from the main grandstand last year.

Biggest race day attendance in Spain since 2008

The Spanish Grand Prix race day attendance figure was also well up on recent years. A total of 121,667 fans were in attendance on Sunday, making it the best-attended Spanish Grand Prix since 2008, when 128,000 fans witnessed Kimi Raikkonen’s victory with Ferrari.

Sunday attendance figures at the Spanish Grand Prix

The all-time single day attendance record at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is 140,700, in 2007 – the year in which Fernando Alonso competed with McLaren after winning the title for a second consecutive year in 2006.

Official Sunday attendance figures for the race were not published in 2018 or 2019 but it is believed that the figure dropped in 2019 following Alonso’s sabbatical from the sport. With Alonso returning to F1, the 2022 race was declared a sell-out event in March. Additional grandstands were added due to the demand for tickets.

Alonso and Sainz score at home

Attendance numbers in 2022 were doubtlessly boosted by both Alonso and Carlos Sainz’s presence on the grid – particularly with Sainz driving race-winning machinery. Despite a trip through the gravel in the early stages, Sainz recovered to fourth place in the race and recorded his best home result to date. Meanwhile, Alonso drove from the back of the grid to ninth place, scoring his first points on home soil since 2018.

Formula 1 attendances have been on the rise at almost every race so far this year. The season-opener in Bahrain attracted a record number of spectators, the first ticketed F1 race at Imola since 2006 attracted almost 200,000 and the Australian Grand Prix attracted a record 420,000 spectators over its 4-day weekend.

Organisational issues leave fans unimpressed

The high number of spectators at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix led to organisational issues over the weekend, both inside and outside the track. Fans took to social media to complain about a lack of food and water at the circuit, long queues for amenities and even longer queues for public transport away from the track. The issues were exacerbated with the race taking place in very hot conditions.

Ahead of the race weekend, organisers encouraged fans to travel to the circuit by public transport. 76 additional train services were provided by Rodalies Renfe in anticipation of the higher than usual spectator numbers. Despite this, many were left waiting over three hours for train services. Taxi services were also largely unavailable due to heavily congested traffic on the roads in and out of the circuit.

The extreme heat led to further issues with water supplies. The circuit attempted to combat these issues with an additional supply of water bottles and dedicated queues for water at bars around the circuit. However, many expressed their anger at the circuit charging €3 for the 500ml bottles with water fountains unavailable on-site.

The situation was branded as “not acceptable” in a statement by Formula 1. Race organisers, who recently signed a new contract to keep the Spanish Grand Prix at the track until 2026, have been told that the issues must be fixed for next season.

Were you at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Sell-Out Spanish Grand Prix Encounters Organisational Issues”

  1. I was there and it was truly my worst f1 visting experience though no fault of the staff out there (which are nicer and more open than some circuits).

    First of all on thursday, the track decided to close most of the toilets on the pit straight.

    Then from friday here are the main issues for me:

    – the lack of temporary structures for Food and beverage most of them were running out by the f1 afternoon session of the said day

    The size of the means were clearly lacking here at the track

    But the worst for me was how RENFE, police and the comunitat handled the train station on the evening.

    On friday there was an organised long queue but on saturday it was a complete anarchy.

    The heat was huge with a big amount of people being blocked. In such instance no free water was offered, people were passing out.

    Unacceptable, really.

    F1 is right to worry, they lost a few thousand customers on the process.

    Best regards

    Karim Eloukbani

  2. Great weekend, however it did feel tainted by the poor organisation. There were no speakers in the Pelouse area (that we were in). I think the circuit could also do more to provide shade for fans. There is literally no shade whatsoever in the Pelouse areas, unless you go under the trees and lose your track view. It was also far too crowded and the grass verges were incredibly steep – too steep to sit comfortably. Pelouse felt like “cattle class” and I would not buy the GA ticket again if I were to go back, it’s not worth it. You need to arrive at 7am (at least) on the Sunday to be in with a chance of getting a decent spot, which makes it an incredibly long day in the sun.

    The traffic was horrific and badly managed – no queue organisation, cars and taxis dropping people off in the same areas as car parking which added to the queues. There was no organisation of car parking whatsoever, we paid for a space and couldn’t find one because there was no management of the allocated spacing within each section. They were not properly checking parking passes, which meant that there were literally more cars than spaces.

    The food was terrible, expensive and the queues were awful – hundreds of people queuing at some points in the day on Sunday in the blistering heat. The queues to get into the ground and through the turnstiles were also bad, people were pushing in and it was basically a free-for-all, then to top it off there were only 4 staff members searching bags at our gate, so getting through took longer than it should have. The hot temperature was unavoidable, but having to queue for over an hour for a small, overpriced bottle of water was a clear disregard for fan welfare – we saw 3 people who had passed out over the course of the weekend. Overall, a fab weekend of racing, but the circuit needs several upgrades to prioritise fan welfare, over pure profit. Unless serious changes are committed to, we would definitely look to a different circuit to visit for the 2023 season.

  3. I went to the circuit all weekend.

    I’ve been to MotoGP many times and had never seen such a bad organization.

    At 37 degrees and they provided absolutely nothing to combat the heat.

    The classism of prices is exorbitant. € 3 a bottle of 0.5L of water, € 4.50 for a soft drink. In the afternoon they no longer had cold drinks.

    People were constantly cutting line us at the entrance queue because there were no organizers nearby or any signs.

    Also, I paid for parking. There was no organization at the exit and there were bottlenecks in which you had to fight for hours to get out.

  4. We were at the circuit as well all weekend. It is a great venue but spectators were treated so badly. Not by staff but by those responsible for transport, food and drink and spectator safety.

    I’ve never seen longer queues for all of the above. The waiting time for buses and trains must have been over 3 hours for the majority of spectators and the only way to avoid them was to leave early! Is that really what you paid for when you bought a not inexpensive ticket!

    The safety aspect was seeing security entrance staff taking sunscreen off spectators because it was in a metal container. It was 34 degrees and there was little shade. Sun screen was almost as important as the €3 water.

    I would make the organizers give everyone a partial refund on their tickets as the organization was diabolical and they should not be able to make what I guess will be a huge profit in the circumstances. That is the only way things will change.

  5. Honestly as a first time F1 goer I am shocked. This was the worst experience,
    I can’t believe I actually stuck it out for 3 days of this, at times I debated giving my ticket away or just not going back. Every night after the 3 hr commute back to my hotel I was just shocked at how inhumane the conditions were at the track for
    Spectators. The food was horrendous, a line for everything, no shade or ways to cool off. I am honestly surprised that nobody died. I almost passed out due to heat exhaustion on Sunday race day, largely because I got to the track for
    9am because it was necessary (traffic), so I was outside in the heat for 6 hrs prior to the race, not ideal. I would never go back and I’m hesitant to give F1 another chance, better off watching from my
    Own couch.

  6. I was there for my 24th birthday and I did have a very good experience and at first I thought what were the complaints all about. However having read about many others’ experiences and some things my mum experienced, I can say I was one of the lucky ones.

    Friday there was not enough staff at the food and drink stalls. Whilst I was watching one of the feeder series sessions, my mum and brother spent like 40 mins queuing to get water (and witnessed someone pass out from the heat), and then actually left the venue to get water from a nearby hotel.

    Saturday we unfortunately mistimed it and missed the start of the F3 race (the traffic wasn’t bad at the carpark opposite the main stand, that was more on us) When we were about to park I made a dash for it so I could catch as much of the F3 race as possible (my mum and brother werent as interested so let me go). I entered via the gate by the main stand and was able to catch half of that race thankfully. Half an hour after that race had finished, my mum messaged me to say she was still queuing having been there for like 30 mins. As it turns out the gates I went through were the only ones with any kind of organisation it seems.

    Sunday the queues to the toilets were massive, were like 20 metres long and lasted 10-15 mins (for the ladies they lasted like 30 mins according to my mum) and when we left the track each day we saw massive queues to get on the park & ride services.

    As I said what we dealt with was very minimal compared to others. We were lucky enough to stay in a hotel in close proximity to many supermarkets so we could stack up on bottled water and food, so were covered when we got into the venue. Others who weren’t travelling by car did not have that luxury. We were also lucky by our choice of carpark, and access to the only organised gate there was. From what I heard, the main carpark behind the main stand was the only carpark with any kind of organisation. We were also lucky that I had interest in the feeder series so we didnt park at peak times. On the whole I feel relieved I had a good birthday weekend at an F1 race but feel bad for those who werent so lucky…

      1. Lisa Marshall

        Hi Andrew, I’m looking to buy tickets for Barcelona f1 2023 for the Hubster. I’ve been a bit put off by the lack of organisation in place reviewed by fans from last year. It’s too expensive to be a disorganised disappointment. Do you know what measures, if any will be in place to avoid a repeat? Will there be sufficient transportation links to and from the city? Will there be plenty of food stands? Water fountains? Cheers :)

        1. Hi Lisa, I don’t have answers to your questions. I really hope that the organizers are better prepared for another sell out race next year. One factor that made it worse this year was the extreme heat, which is unusual for spring in Barcelona (but maybe not that unusual now with global warming). I still think that Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of the best circuits on the calendar to watch F1 (views, proximity to Barcelona etc)

          1. It was an awful Spanish Grand Prix , I have been going for 28 years. Will not go again and the organisers so greedy , why put 120,000 people in a circuit , what should hold 80,000 all about greed!! And money . Took 2 hours to leave the track and the train station terrifying, could been a terrible crush . And top it off the stewards cleared the grandstands as quickly as possible, causing very dangerous overcrowding . So unprofessional and so dangerous , never again and good bye to greedy organisers

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