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Formula One on the cheap

On Friday Thijs and I decided to watch the free practice session at the Formula One circuit in Shanghai. Problem was, we did not have tickets – not even a ticket to park my car. The one day tickets were sold out online, so we decided to just drive to the F1 circuit and take it from there.

Luckily it was not very busy, so I could drive to the circuit without being stopped by police (on race day, tomorrow, that won’t be possible). Close to the circuit there were touts selling parking tickets. We stopped to negotiate with one of them, but he demanded RMB 500 (EUR 50) just to park my car. I found that a bit steep, so decided to continue to the main entrance of the circuit. That turned out to be a smart idea, because 300 meters from there I found a dirt road leading to an old factory. There were no signs that I could not park there, so I just left my car on the side of the road.

We then walked to the stadium and talked to several black market ticket sellers. They only had the most expensive tickets and demanded RMB 1000 just for the free practice. A bit expensive we thought. We then met another tout who had VIP passes to the Grand Stand. He offered to take us in for RMB 500 in total (EUR 50 for 2 persons). I did not think that would work, but I only had to pay him when we would be on the Grand Stand, so we gave it a try. And yes, it was no problem. I think he knew the guards, because they just let us true. Once at the Grand Stand he took away the VIP passes, so if we would leave we could not go back in. But that was not a big deal, because we did not plan to stay the whole day anyway.

We watched the first free practice from the best seats in the house. Very cool, especially considering the extremely low price that we had to pay to get there. After that we watched the Porsche Carrera cup practice, which is always a bit lame after first watching the F1 cars. After an hour and a half we decided to go out again, to watch Ho-Pin Tung perform some tricks in a BMW F1 car. Very interesting to see him do this, the sound and acceleration (even on the short track) was amazing. The crowd loved it as well: afterwards there were at least 100 people waiting for his signature. We decided not to wait for him to finish, but drive to Sheshan (less than 30 minutes at speeds of 160-180 km/h, inspired by F1 🙂 to have lunch at the Le Meridien hotel.
At night we went to several parties to celebrate that F1 is in town. We started in the Blue Frog where we also met Matthijs van Basten Batenburg, a Dutch lawyer working in Shanghai. Then we went off to the Glamour Bar (where 2 red Ferrari’s were parked in front of the entrance), and later ended up on the rooftop terrace of Bar Rouge (RMB 200 entrance fee!). We met Ho-Pin there again in the early hours of the morning – drinking a cola of course, no alcohol. I also got a call from Yanik Cantieni, a good friend of mine who is CFO of DaimlerChrysler Indonesia and co-founder of, who flew in for the F1 with some friends. He was at a different party, but I hope to see him later this weekend. We ended the night at Park 97. It was not very busy there anymore when we arrived around 3 AM, so I decided to call it a day (night) and get some sleep.

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