Grand Prix chiefs at Austin are to offer Formula 1 fans a radical new ticketing initiative, following a successful trial at its recent MotoGP event.
In a bid to give fans greater choice when it comes to choosing grandstands, the Circuit of the Americas has created a new 'Flex Pass' system – which will allow spectators to switch grandstands on different days of the weekend.
It was felt that there was a gap in the market for spectators – between the general admission flexibility that did not guarantee a viewing areas, and the normal grandstand option that only allowed a specific seat for the whole weekend.
Geoff Moore, COTA's chief revenue officer, said that the trial of the system had been such a success at MotoGP that it was a no-brainer to offer it for those wishing to attend October's F1 race.
“It was well received, sold very well and we sold out of the inventory that we set aside for it, so everyone was happy,” he told Motorsport.com.
“We have done same thing with Lone Star Le Mans that is coming up in September, and we have now decided to try the same thing for F1.”
More choice for fans
At a time when race promoters find themselves having to deliver more to attract audiences, Moore believes that giving fans the kind of choice its 'Flex Pass' offers is a positive step.
“I think it is the natural evolution of giving fans more choice and more control,” he said. “With a general admission ticket, while we have some great areas, unless you are here at 7.30am then you may not get a good spot.
“The one thing that always make me proud is when drivers talk about coming to this track and how much they enjoy driving the different sections of it – so if you wanted to get a good view of drivers in the Esses, Turn 5 is a great place to do it, but others may prefer to watch from Turn 11 in qualifying.
“Then some people want to be in main grandstand for race day. They want to see the grid ceremony, start, podium, have best access to the track invasion and see pit stops.
"With our new ticket, you can now do that."
F1 event now more established
Moore says that Austin is benefiting from a new acceptance of F1 in the United States – which will be further boosted with the return of the Mexican GP and the arrival of the Haas team.
“I don't know if anything will match the social phenomena that 2012 brought, in terms of excitement, anticipation and drama,” he said. “2012 was a pretty special year. We are in a more normalised environment now – but we are being looked at differently by fans and sponsors who know we are here to stay.”
Speaking about the impact of the Mexican GP on the Austin audience, Moore said: “I think in the end what is going to happen is it will raise F1 awareness on this side of the world. The more F1 races that are happening here, when people are awake and paying attention, is ultimately a good thing.
“Whenever there is a new kid on the block it tends to generate a lot of excitement and gets a lot of attention, I enjoyed that when it was us; and I don't enjoy it as much when it is someone else. So they are the hot thing right now and that is ultimately a good thing for all of us.”