JANUARY 18, 2009

Cost-cutting in F1?

One area where there is no cost-cutting at all in Formula 1 is in the price of the hotels at most of the races. Teams are now getting into their bookings for the coming year and are finding that hotel costs are rising more than ever. The worst culprit amongst the races has always been Monte Carlo where hoteliers take advantage of the popularity of the race by demanding seven-night minimum books at vastly inflated prices. The F1 circus loves Montreal, but in recent years the Canadians had gone down the same path and so the loss of the race was not quite as sad as some in the city believed.

Bahrain has a tradition of over-priced hotels and this year there seems to be little difference with $500 a night with a four-night minimum being a relatively cheap option. Melbourne has suffered similar price hikes in recent years while new races Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Valencia all seem to think that F1 teams and fans can afford to pay whatever they care to charge. The top-end hotels in Singapore got their fingers badly burned in 2008 as many of the rooms close to the track were left unsold because of the iniquitous demands being made.

The fear in F1 circles, apart from the costs to the teams and the other members of the F1 circus, is that fans will stop coming to races now that there is less money about because the price of the tickets added to expensive hotels and air fares make the investment necessary too much to make it enjoyable.

In some sports, hotel prices are carefully regulated to make sure that the hotels do not bite the hands that feed them, but in F1 it seems that the hoteliers want not just the hands but the arms as well...