With just under 450,000 attending the 2023 Australian Grand Prix over the weekend, have you ever wondered what it’s like to not have to worry about trekking for drinks and the bathroom and not sitting within the crowded confines of a gap in the fence?
We wanted to give you an idea of what the F1 experience is like when cost is no object and you want the best seats in the house.
Most people will catch public transport or park nearby the track and walk in. Spend enough money and you can get a helicopter transfer from the airport or from the city to an oval adjacent to the track. Prices aren’t outrageous (especially in the context of the recent sport of gouging customers that taxis take part in) either, starting from around $250 one way from the city.
These transfers also give you an amazing look over the track as you make your way in.
With enough connections, you can also snag parking at the track – but the downside of this is the incredibly long queue to leave when everything is done and dusted, with all exit routes crowded by pedestrians.
One of the most prestigious and convenient spots for easy entry and exit is the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge. It’s located at turn 10 and it’s attached to an existing structure with direct access to Queens Road. That means when you’re done, you can get in your private transfer and leave before any of the crowds have made their way to the road.
The corporate facilities
So, you’re at the track, what happens now? You’ll want to splash some cash on an invite-only corporate facility.
We had the chance to check out the Porsche Pavilion, Casa Ferrari, the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge and the Formula One Paddock Club. There are many more corporate facilities around the place but these are the ones we were invited to check out.
Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge
So I mentioned before that the Star Lounge has its own road entrance – something you won’t find at other corporate facilities.
The Star lounge is invite-only and those that are invited to purchase a ticket will pay in the thousands for access. Access also depends on which day you purchase (and this applies to the rest of the corporate venues) with some people only there for the Friday, while others will purchase access for the entire event.
As you’d expect, that access gets you unlimited food and drinks, along with access to toilets reserved for that location.
Depending on when you attend, you may also get to do a meet and greet with a number of Mercedes-Benz personalities, including drivers.
It’s also arguably one of the best spots on the track for action. Turn 10 is an exciting spot to see cars come fly by and the Star Lounge offers both an outdoor seating area, along with an air-conditioned interior space with a large television and sound system.
Outside you’ll find a number of new Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG models to gawk at in between races.
The food is on point too with 400 Gradi operating a pizza oven on site – you’ll have the freshest and best-tasting pizzas at the Formula One.
Get in early and you’ll also be able to score a pit and paddock tour with transfers in a buggy through to the invite-only portion of the track.
The three-storey Ferrari structure sits on the front straight adjacent to pit exit and is the place to be for an indoor/outdoor vibe with uninterrupted atmosphere.
Casa Ferrari is also invite-only with a weekend pass costing in the thousands of dollars. Guests are ushered in through a priority entrance at Gate 1 before being met at the door.
Once inside you’ll be living up a weekend of unlimited food and drinks, Aperol Spritz being the cocktail of choice to keep you cool when the sun comes out.
Each level has a different vibe with the rooftop being the prime viewing position.
An outdoor area has a stack of couches and lounges to laze on when the sun comes out. Highlight of our visit was the gelato and mini pizzas.
Ferrari also used the event to house the new Ferrari Purosangue, which was available for guests to look at and sit inside throughout the weekend.
Like the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, Ferrari brings drivers through during the weekend.
Unlike Casa Ferrari and the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, the Porsche Pavilion is accessible by both Porsche customers and those without a Porsche in the driveway.
This year tickets sold out within 48 hours, with a full event pass costing in the thousands.
At the entrance to the pavilion, Porsche parked the only 992 Porsche 911 GT3 RS in the country for visitors to hop in and poke around.
The Porsche Pavilion has grown in size this year. It’s 20 per cent bigger than last year and like the others includes unlimited drinks and food.
Inside you’ll find an enormous screen to watch the race, while the outdoor area includes elevated seating across turns one and two – it’s an awesome place to spot action at the start or (the many) restart of the race.
Keep an eye out for Mark Webber and Porsche Carrera Cup drivers too. Mark frequents the Porsche Pavilion for Q&A sessions, while drivers are seen stopping by in the lead up to their races.
Porsche also had an EV activation within the precinct that was free for anybody with a general admission ticket to access. It offered a virtual nature walk through a dark air-conditioned room that led through to an open space that had a Porsche Taycan on display.
Formula One Paddock Club
If you can’t secure an invitation to one of the branded corporate facilities, the Formula One has its own paid premium facility.
Priced at around $6000 for the full weekend, the Paddock Club gives you access to unlimited drinks and food from Friday through to Sunday. You can also assign your day tickets to other people if required, meaning somebody can go in your place if you can’t make it.
The Paddock Club is positioned directly next to the Formula One paddock with a section that looks over the pit area and fronts the straight.
Inside the club itself is a huge bar area with a DJ, large screen and commentary throughout the weekend. You’ll also spot a recording area for the F1 coverage with drivers often in and out of the area.
While buying a pass for the weekend doesn’t give you access to the actual Formula One paddock, you can organise a guided tour of the paddock area. This gives you temporary access to walk through the paddock and see the ins and outs of the team operations.
During these tours you’re almost guaranteed to spot any number of drivers or team owners as they move between pit garages and their hospitality areas.