Five Best Formula One Grand Prix events to attend in 2023
This article was originally published on Forbes.com on February 15, 2023.
The Formula One calendar continues to expand with a record 23 races planned for 2023. Among those races are several marquee events, where the destination is twofold: (1) attending the race weekend from practice sessions on Friday to the main race on Sunday and (2) visiting the host city or region as a vacation destination unto itself. Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is one such event. It plays host to the Formula One season finale in November, and it’s just an hour’s drive from the Middle East playground of Dubai.
But this is just one of the 23 races. So it begs the questions: Which are the best F1 races for Americans to attend and why? How does one go about coordinating the travel, tickets, accommodations, transfers and extracurricular activities? For a group of two to 20 people? Fortunately, there are companies like Grand Prix Grand Tours that offers turnkey packages that include flights, transfers, lodging and tickets. These are offered in multiple tiers depending your budget. Which means that you attend pretty much any F1 race you want from a single source. It couldn’t be easier.
The following are my top five picks based on the destination, race quality and historic significance.
1. The United States Grand Prix: This is a pretty obvious choice for Americans. The USGP takes place in Austin, Texas, which is a worthy destination on its own for the live music and BBQ. It’s centrally located, making travel easy from any of the other 49 states, and it takes place over the weekend of October 19th – 23rd. What else is going on that weekend in the US? Nothing. There are zero conflicts. The venue at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), though, is what makes this race so special. The track was specifically designed for F1 racing. As such, it consistently proves to be one of the best events of the year as voted by fans. My first F1 experience was the 2018 USGP, where Kimi Raikkonen won the final race of his career—with Ferrari, of course—and it was voted the best race of that season. For 2022, I’d rank it third behind Silverstone and Brazil.
2. The Monaco Grand Prix: For 2023, the Monaco Grand Prix takes place over Memorial Day Weekend from Friday May 26th to Sunday May 28th. This historic race in the principality of Monaco gets a fair share of criticism for being largely processional. Today’s F1 cars are too big to allow for passing on the narrow street course. As such, the true race happens on Saturday during qualifying. It’s also a challenging race to watch in person because you can only see a small portion of the course from any given point. That said, the dirty secret of attending any F1 race is that you end up watching most of it on TV. And that’s fine because it’s more about the collective energy of actually being there and watching the race with tens of thousands of fellow F1 fanatics. But that’s also how attending Monaco is unlike any other Grand Prix (I’m told). Nowhere else do you get this level of glitz, glamour and celebrity than Monaco in May.
3. The Italian Grand Prix: This is Monza aka the Temple of Speed. It is Ferrari’s home race, where the faithful tifosi show up in force and storm the track for the podium ceremony. If Ferrari wins? It’s absolute madness and would be one of the best F1 moments imaginable to actually experience live. Regardless, Monza should be among the top three Grand Prix to attend in an F1 fan’s lifetime. The Italian GP is traditionally timed right after the summer break. For 2023, it will take place over Labor Day Weekend, September 1st – 3rd. If Leclerc and/or Sainz look like they could challenge for a title after the first few races, this could be the year to be at Monza.
4. The Canadian Grand Prix: Montreal is an historic North American city with a distinctly European vibe and unique Quebecois culture. It’s also incredibly clean with world-class dining and nightlife. One of the best times of year to visit is mid-June i.e. the 15th to 18th for the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Some memorable moments from the Canadian GP include Jenson Button coming from last to win in 2011 and Lewis Hamilton’s very first victory in 2007. That year, Robert Kubica also had one of the most spectacular crashes in F1 history coming down the back straight. Whether it’s a wet or dry race, the Canadian GP consistently delivers epic racing.
5. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: The bad news is that the F1 series championships—the Constructors’ and Drivers’—are typically decided before the last race of the season. Of course, the 2021 season was a huge exception. Additionally, the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi doesn’t usually deliver great wheel-to-wheel racing. That said, it’s the grand finale event for a sport where every race is like a Super Bowl. It goes off with fireworks shows in all directions, the drivers doing donuts all over the track and the teams breathing huge sighs of relief while celebrating team victories—all under the lights at night in 70-degree weather. For 2022, this event took place the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, but for 2023, it’s November 23rd – 25th i.e. Thanksgiving weekend.