I attended the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this year for the first time. Despite being a Formula One fan for several years now (and yes, prior to Drive to Survive), this was the first F1 race I ever attended in person which is long overdue. I had attempted to go to the 2020 Australian Grand Prix and we all know how that panned out. (Cancelled – It was cancelled because of COVID)
Not only have I always wanted to attend an F1 race, I’ve always wanted to do the pit lane walk. I’m going to explain how to attend the pit lane walk and share tips to ensure that if you’re thinking of doing the pit lane walk that it will be absolutely worth it for you.
The pit lane walk is an exclusive event that partakes on the Thursday preceding any F1 track action and is generally an add-on for purchase. It gives you 30-60 minutes of exclusive access to walk up and down the pit lane and look into the garages of each of the teams. You may even see teams practising their pit stops or even see drivers, team principals and other key personnel. We saw Sergio Perez at the Red Bull garage!
Every F1 race will do their pit lane walk differently so I can only say from my experience in Melbourne.
How to Access the Pit Lane Walk and How Much Did It Cost
In 2023, the pit lane walk was an exclusive add-on only available through Access23 program. It cost $199 for the base token which gained you access to the program mainly for presale access to the 2024 GP as well as some rather non-essential perks such as free GA tickets for Thursday (which was useless because I already had tickets for Thursday-Sunday). You had to pay an additional $150 to add the pit lane walk opportunity and there were 2 time slots one at 2PM and one at 4PM. I chose the 4PM mainly because that was the more popular option and allowed me more time during the day to explore the grounds.
$350 for the pit lane walk is outrageous if you ask me but the demand for the sport is only increasing year on year which frustrates me because it makes going to the grand prix as an F1 fan pretty inaccessible. However, given it was my first F1 weekend and therefore, having never done a pit lane walk I knew I had to do it at least once.
If you have a hospitality ticket, pit lane walks are generally included as an F1 experience but bear in mind these tickets cost thousands of dollars.
As mentioned, access to the pit lane walk varies for each grand prix and some of them are very accessible. At Silverstone in 2023, the pit lane walk is only via ballot. At the Austrian GP in 2022, tickets for the pit lane walk were only 10€. At the Canadian GP in 2022, the pit lane walk was free. Many races will have entry for the pit lane walk as long as you hold a certain ticket (e.g. 3 day pass).
Now having done a bit of research on pit lane walks at other GPs, I feel royally mugged off but going back to my point at how much the sport has blown up, F1 organisers can afford to charge outrageous prices because the demand is there. Look at Miami and Las Vegas.
What to Expect
The pit lane walk is essentially a scheduled time to walk along the pit lane. This is why it is always done on Thursday before any F1 track action and the team are still setting up their cars. This will be the closest you’ll be to the F1 cars during the race weekend. You’ll get to see F1 personnel working on the cars and being present in the garages.
You are only allowed to be on the pit lane for a scheduled time so plan accordingly so you’re able to go through all the F1 garages in time.
And expect huge crowds!
- It can be pretty packed along the pit lane walk. Popular garages such as Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari will be very packed and popular drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc will be very busy. Plan accordingly so you’re able to go through all the garages and set your expectations lower on those popular garages in terms of seeing any action/getting good unobstructed photos.
- The pit lane walk can be very expensive so it is important to make sure it is worth your money. Set some goals in mind of what photos you want to take to ensure you won’t end up being disappointed. My main goal was to have a picture at the Mercedes garage because I was wearing a Mercedes shirt. Lewis Hamilton was insanely crowded so George Russell had to do. I also really wanted a photo in front of Charles Leclerc’s garage. Unfortunately, this is the photo I looked the nicest in.
- Don’t spend too long at the earlier garages and set enough time to see each garage. Yes, you’ll be able to see a lot more at a Williams or Haas garage but given you only have a set amount of time on the pit lane, you don’t want to end up having to rush the remainder of your walk and end up not seeing the popular garages such as Redbull or Ferrari.
- If you have a kid, it does not hurt to ask personnel if your child can get a closer picture with the car and go past the barricade. I did notice at least 2 children being allowed to go past the barricade to get a picture. F1 personnel are really accomodating but note I think this would only really work for lower-placed teams such as Williams.
Is it Worth it?
If you’ve never been, definitely do it at least once. For me, just stepping onto the pit lane and seeing the garages and cars so close was such a surreal and special moment for me. I could not recommend it highly enough if it’s your first time – as long as you manage your expectations.