Once again the Monaco Grand Prix lived up to expectations. We had the anticipated first corner pileup that fortunately resulted in no injuries, but did lead to the retirement of some strong podium contenders like local favorite Romain Grosjean.
This incident was followed by a straightforward race where all the passing relied on the teams pit stop strategies. Sebastien Vettel had the only strategy that really differed from the rest of the grid: The others started on super soft tires, whereas he started on the harder tires, allowing him to stay on the track longer and do a few laps free of traffic. The tactic resulted in him overtaking two cars after everyone was done with their pit stops.
The weather kept the crowd waiting for a shakeup of the positions, with rain looming over the second half of the race. It started coming down in the final laps, but just on certain portions of the track. This did, however, make for a few nail-biting moments as Nico Rosberg, and Fernando Alonso caught up to Mark Webber and put the pressure on him. But Webber held on, kept his cool and was able to become the sixth different winner in six Grand Prixs, as well as a two-time Monaco GP winner.
The last decade has seen Formula One branded as rather boring, with the same winners time after time (be it whether Schumacher and Ferrari or Vettel and Red Bull). But this season is bringing the sport back to life; it is nearly impossible to predict the next race’s winners. Hopefully the remainder of the season will continue to be balanced, and we will end up with one of the most exciting Grand Prix in Austin this fall since we are the second to last stop of the season.
The teams get a weekend off until next week's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. So rather than a race preview, I’ll discuss why I have already bought my Personal Seat License at Circuit of the Americas.
Like many of you, last year I signed up on the Circuit of the Americas website to receive e-mail updates for tickets, events, etc. Then it was announced earlier this year that the first round of ticket sales would only be for Personal Seat Licenses (PSL), something were not used to seeing in motorsports.
But this is not a new concept in sports: the University of Texas football stadium has a similar system, as well as the Dallas Cowboys. Basically, you purchase your right to buy a ticket every season for a pre-determined number of years which, at the Circuit of the Americas, is 15 years. The price of the PSL does not include the cost of the season pass, which you have to purchase every year in order to retain.
Not only was the first round of ticket sales going to be limited to PSLs, but you had to sign up in advance for this first round and pay a $100 deposit. I’ll admit that all of this commitment had me thinking twice, but ultimately, I went ahead and put a deposit down. Then in February the pricing of the PSLs came out, and at first glance, I was blinded by the high prices of certain sections. At this point I figured I would just wait for general admission tickets to be released.
But then in April after much discussion with some friends about what we were going to do for Formula One, we scheduled a meeting at the Circuit of the Americas ticket sales office in Austin. Our thought was there must be reasons why the PSLs are priced the way they are and maybe we were not fully understanding the advantages from reading the Circuit of the Americas website. During this meeting we realized that we had not looked at the layout in enough detail and eventually found some seats that not only provided great views but were also affordable.
We also discovered that once we amortize the initial cost of a PSL over 15 years (and the annual season pass over the year), it’s actually reasonable if you can afford the upfront cost. As an Austinite the PSL made most sense; Circuit of the Americas plans to host a dozen other events every year, though events like concerts won’t be included in the season pass.
As a PSL holder you will get first right of refusal before the concert tickets go on sale to the general public. Anyone who’s tried to purchase an Austin City Limits 3-day pass over the past several years knows that large-scale music events in Austin tend to sell out instantly.
Also, if you cannot attend an event to which you have a ticket owing to your season pass, you are allowed to sell it. I suspect this is how Ticketmaster is already selling Grand Prix tickets on their website.
To sum things up, if you’re on the fence about a Personal Seat License, I would suggest contacting Circuit of the Americas and letting them review the advantages and disadvantages of a PSL according to your needs. It isn’t for everyone, but I know I have no regrets — and I enjoy the comfort of already knowing where I will be sitting.