Miami or COTA: Which Formula 1 Race in the U.S. Is Cheaper to Attend?

So, you’ve got a week of vacation coming and the urge to cross a big event off your motorsports bucket list. You’ve already done the Daytona 500 thing, and the Indianapolis 500 doesn’t fit into the schedule because it’s your turn to host on Memorial Day weekend.

The choice is obvious. It’s time to check out Formula 1 in person. But there’s a decision to make now that the United States is hosting two races instead of the usual one. So, which will be, Miami in early May or Circuit of the Americas in late October?

U.S. Formula 1 fans enjoy an embarrassment of choices

Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on Oct. 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on Oct. 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Liberty Media, the owner of Formula 1, is making a big push to expand its racing audience in the United States. Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has become a fixture on the schedule and recently signed a contract extension to continue hosting the United States Grand Prix. F1 returns there for its 2022 date on Oct. 23.

Meanwhile, the Miami Grand Prix makes its debut on May 8. While it may seem odd not to set the American dates back-to-back, spacing the races out is intentional. They recognize that time and financial constraints would keep most hardcore fans from attending both races.

Spacing them out makes it a bit more plausible for some of those fans to indulge and get to both cities. But you’re not in that 1% and have to choose one or the other due to financial considerations. So, which will it be?

Miami or COTA: Which Formula 1 race is cheaper to attend?

Formula 1 is the most glamorous racing circuit on the planet, and we all likely suspect “glamorous” is derived from the French word for “expensive.” When rumors began flying that Las Vegas could be landing a third U.S. F1 race beginning in 2023, a development that is now a fact, VegasInsider.com went digging into costs for all 22 scheduled venues this season and built an informative chart in a PDF format.

The researchers structured their model around two nights in a hotel through Booking.com, a three-day grandstand pass, and six inexpensive meals. Transportation was left out of the equation since those numbers will vary based on how far spectators are traveling.

Right off the bat, Miami stood out in the ticket price department. While it’s not surprising that the cheapest three-day grandstand ticket for the Monaco Grand Prix tops the list at $700, Miami clocks in at a pricey $640. That far exceeds COTA’s $235, though there’s a caveat: COTA has sold out of tickets, and Autoweek.com reported that prices on the secondary market are soaring to around triple the listed price.

The advantage in hotel prices goes to Miami. The website determined the two-night stay in that more mature tourism locale with its tourism infrastructure built out has an average cost of $854 and a median of $643. Austin continues to grow rapidly and is racing to keep up when it comes to accommodations for an event that drew an estimated 400,000 spectators last fall. The website cited the hotel average as $2,067 and the median as $1,460.

The six “inexpensive” meals in both cities came in at just under $100. In total, then, Miami is a cheaper Formula 1 race than COTA, as long as there isn’t a huge difference in airfare or incidentals.

Two other North American options

Though international travel remains a tricky proposition two-plus years into the pandemic, there are two other North American dates on the Formula 1 calendar. Montreal hosts on June 19, and Mexico City is on the schedule for Oct. 30, the weekend after COTA.

Grandstand seating in Mexico City and Montreal checked in at comparable prices of a little bit over $200, but the Canadian hotels are much more expensive. Again, travel to and from the city can swing the decision in a different direction. And the language you studied in high school or minored in at college could be the tiebreaker if it’s a close call.

If all else fails, there’s always Las Vegas in November 2023. We hear that’s an entirely different world within the world.

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