Famous venues, exciting cities, and some modern classics make this every F1 fan’s bucket list
The 2022 Formula One season is the longest in the history of the sport, with the calendar running until late November. With so many awesome venues around the world to visit, here’s our pick of the ones not to miss.
Melbourne, Australia, April 8 — 10
The season begins with a double-header in the Middle East, but for the fans trackside, the fun really starts when the circus arrives in Australia. Traditionally the first race of the year since its inaugural appearance in 1996 (2006 and 2010 being exceptions), it’s been missing from the calendar for two seasons due to Covid-19. However, authorities have used the time well, making changes to the Albert Park Circuit that should make racing faster and closer than ever.
Albert Park is a beautiful location for a race, using public roads for a 5.2-kilometer thrash around the lake of the same name. The park itself is an easy three-kilometer stroll from the heart of Melbourne, and looks out over the beachfront at Port Phillip Bay, making this one of the most lively and fun F1 events to attend. After two years of no race, fans Down Under are ready and waiting to make some noise again, and with Aussie Daniel Ricciardo coming off the back of an up-and-down season with a resurgent McLaren team in which he nevertheless scored a win, Melbourne will be rocking.
It’s a multicultural city with excellent nightlife: the Esplanade Hotel in St. Kilda hosts live music, the area around the Queen Victoria Market is the place to go for cheap street food, and Lygon Street is a strip of bars and cafes popular with the Italian community. Ferrari fans, make your way here!
Monaco, May 27 — 29
Ah yes, Monaco. An absolute anachronism in terms of race track (Sir Jackie Stewart described racing around the principality as “like trying to ride a bicycle at full speed around your living room”), but still a must-visit at least once for any F1 fan. All the cliches about glamor, danger, beautiful people, and the champagne lifestyle are true, while race day perched on ‘the rock’ overlooking the final sequence of corners is still within financial reach (especially when you see the prices of some of the grandstands — gulp!)
Accommodation-wise, it’s clear you’re not actually going to find a place to stay in Monaco itself as prices double at least during race weekend, but that’s okay. Nice is, well, nice, and is a short train ride from Monaco, while other options are to be found within 50 kilometers or so, many with bus or train services. Antibes, Bordighera, Menton and Ventimiglia are all good places to start looking, all of which can give you the glamor of a weekend on the Riviera at lower prices.
Montréal, Canada, June 17 — 19
Back on the calendar after missing a couple of seasons due to Covid-19, the street-circuit-turned-permanent-facility on an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence Seaway is one of the most popular tracks on the calendar, its mix of high speeds, tight corners and unforgiving walls making it popular with both drivers and fans. The 1999 edition of the race claimed Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and local boy Jacques Villeneuve as its victims, all of them ending their race by clouting the wall at the final chicane, leading to it being christened the Wall of Champions. 2007 saw Robert Kubica’s monstrous accident at the hairpin, but the popular Pole returned the next year to claim his one and only F1 victory.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is another of those circuits where, like Budapest below, racing and the city go hand-in-hand. Montréal is a fabulous city and one that embraces the race wholeheartedly. The track is central enough to be accessible by Metro, and in the city, Crescent Street becomes the hub of the weekend with live bands and DJs playing for fans and locals alike. The race also pretty much coincides with the final days of the month-long Montréal Fringe Festival, so arrive a few days early and treat yourself to some top-notch music, comedy, art and more before the action on the track begins.
Budapest, Hungary, July 29 — 31
Not the fastest or most thrilling circuit, the Hungaroring still manages to throw up some corking races: last year’s chaotic win for Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo’s storm through on fresh tyres in 2014, debut wins for Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button’s triumph from 14th in a wet/dry race in 2006. Ross Brawn asked Michael Schumacher for “19 qualifying laps please” to make their three-stop strategy work in 1998 (Schumacher’s reply was simply “Okay. Thank you.” before setting about what would be one of his greatest drives). It’s for races like these that 2022 will be the Hungaroring’s 36th year on the calendar.
A popular race not just for the views (the track sits in a natural bowl meaning spectators can see a lot of the action), it’s also a great weekend away full stop. The center of Budapest is only 40 minutes away on public transport with regular commuter train and courtesy bus connections to the circuit, and the great weather and cheaper accommodation attract fans from all over Europe.
Budapest itself is a stunning city, and if you either come a couple of days early or stay on for a while, you can take your time to explore the hills and grandeur of Buda, the elegant avenues and squares of Pest, and relax in the famous ruin bars after a long day of on-track action. For an F1 weekend on a budget, you can’t get much better than this.
Singapore, September 30 — October 2
Formula One’s first night race was held around the streets of Singapore in 2008 and since then it’s come to be regarded as something of a modern classic. Twists, walls, and the occasional hail-mary move by impatient drivers means the chances of a safety car are high, and results unpredictable. Hey, in 2016 Max Verstappen even rounded a corner to be confronted with a huge monitor lizard scurrying its way across the circuit!
The event was one of the first where Liberty Media, F1’s owners, went all-out to provide a full fan experience, with a huge stage featuring acts as big as Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gwen Stefani and Fat Boy Slim over the years. The fact that the circuit is made up of much of downtown Singapore also means you’re always close to everything that’s happening, and the variety of other activities — seeing Singapore by bicycle, visiting nature reserves, touring an ex-World War II command bunker, island hopping for a few days — means that the race is a focal point for an amazing extended stay.
Mexico City, Mexico, October 28 — 30
Mexico fell out of love with Formula One during the 90s and 2000s as the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez dropped off the calendar at the end of 1992. A wide, fast, bumpy circuit built in a city park and featuring the fearsome Peraltada as its final corner; however when racing activities lessened, the Foro Sol baseball stadium was built on the land, cutting the Peraltada in half.
Ironically, that section of the track is now the Mexican Grand Prix’s signature. The cars turn right to enter the baseball stadium for a slow left-right wiggle in front of 25,000 fans, most of whom are there to see Sergio Pérez. The man from Guadalajara was the catalyst for reigniting the possibility of a race in Mexico, and visiting Mexico City has quickly become something drivers and fans all love.
The circuit is almost exactly in the center of the immense sprawl of Mexico City, a seemingly endless confusion of Aztec ruins, modern buildings, colonial might, and an enthusiastic, cosmopolitan population. It somehow manages to be both laid-back and exciting at the same time, and when the racing is done, take some time to get your bearings and explore the wondrous history and art of the city. You’ll never get it done, so all the more reason to come back next year!
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