F1 Australian GP revs up record corporate crowds despite escalating cost of business

CORPORATE travel bookings to the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix this weekend are up 146 percent on last year. And that is in spite of significant rises in business operating costs and reductions in overall corporate hospitality expenditure.

What is the magic formula that gives the F1 Australian GP a special place in the corporate hospitality pecking order? According to business travel organiser, Corporate Traveller, domestic corporate bookings account for 90 percent of the event, with Canberra bookings jumping by a massive 300 percent on last year. 

Corporations are paying from $1550 to $4595 per ticket to host clients for the main race day. They paid up to $6550 per person for two- to three-day passes, which were almost sold out two weeks in advance1

Air travel data showed a 146 per cent jump in bookings around the four-day event compared with last year. General admission sold out within two hours1. According to Corporate Traveller global managing director, Tom Walley, who is based in Australia, the figures demonstrate the value of investing in major events as a way of retaining key business connections and developing new relationships, even in uncertain economic conditions.

“It’s been a hard couple of years for many businesses, but our data strongly suggests that businesses across the country see value in major events like the Grand Prix,” Mr Walley said.

“This year, we have seen a massive increase in attendance by Canberra-based corporates compared with last, however, the majority of bookings are still from Sydney, followed by Brisbane, across both years. While expensive, events like this are a prime opportunity to network, nurture existing relationships and develop new business and sponsorship opportunities. Savvy businesses from all over Australia are beginning to make the most of those benefits.”

Research by Corporate Traveller, part of the Flight Centre Travel Group, compared corporate inbound and outbound flight bookings from March 20-25 to capture travel to the four-day event. It found the Thursday (March 21) is the busiest day, with 25 percent of all bookings scheduled. 

Businesses under financial pressure

Over the past two years, businesses have been hit by much of the same financial pressures as Australian households2 with multiple interest rate rises and increases in the cost of fuel and materials, Mr Walley said.

Cautious consumers and efforts to retain staff in a competitive environment of skills shortages have added to the pressure. Increasingly, he said, businesses facing profitability challenges were drawing down on cash buffers to support their operations or service debts3, with the failure rate of businesses expected to rise from 4.2 percent to 5.8 percent of all businesses by November this year4.  

He said amid the widespread downturn, the travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors might outperform other sectors in 2024. With food and drink, entertainment, and travel and experiences noted as categories where individuals were most inclined to increase their spending.5

Networking and marketing a priority

With the focus firmly on networking and brand exposure, corporate bookings between 20-25 March this year were up 146 percent on bookings for the six days before, during and after the 2023 Grand Prix (March 29 to April 3). Of those, only 9 percent were international and 91 percent were local.

Of local bookings in 2024 compared with 2023, Canberra jumped by 300 percent, Adelaide by 226 percent, Brisbane by 191 percent, Perth by 177 percent, and Sydney by 194 percent. Sydneysiders made up 36 percent of all bookings.

Mr Walley said corporate travellers have a variety of exclusive events to choose from, and none of them come cheap.  The Australian GP offers a choice of 19 exclusive experiences, including a three-day Red Bull Energy Station experience at the top price of $6550 per person. The Red Bull Energy Station is held in a two-storey facility with views of the pit exit and main straight. The experience includes dining, drinks, DJs, entertainment and appearances from the Red Bull racing team6.

The least expensive three-day experience was The Park at $2195 per ticket, including dining, DJs and an outdoor viewing deck7.

Crowd-breaking records and a stellar line-up

In 2023, 444,631 people attended the Australian GP over four days, a record attendance for Melbourne8. Higher numbers are expected to flock to the Albert Park Lake circuit this year with race-day tickets selling out in a couple of hours9. The Albert Park circuit can hold an estimated 125,000 people per day, including 44,000 seated.

“Business owners recognise the importance of investing time and money into their team and associates for long-term gains,” Mr Walley said.

“Grand Prix attendance has grown exponentially over the past couple of years as businesses recover, maintain and grow in a tumultuous economic climate. This is one expense that has the long-term potential to relieve financial pressure as well as give businesses and their employees a morale boost and something exciting to look forward to.”



Percentage change in business travel to the Australian Grand Prix 
 (29 March – 3 April 3023 & 20-25 March 2024)


% Change











All International & Domestic




[1] 2024 Australian Grand Prix race day tickets sell out in two hours (raceweek.com.au)

[2] https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/fsr/2023/oct/pdf/02-household-business-finances-in-australia.pdf

[3] https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/fsr/2023/oct/pdf/02-household-business-finances-in-australia.pdf

[4] https://creditorwatch.com.au/blog/business-conditions-ease-further-maintaining-a-slow-downward-trend/

[5] https://www.cosboa.org.au/post/resilience-amidst-challenges-cosboa-and-square-release-2023-small-business-data-report

[6] Red Bull Energy Station, FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2024


[8] Record Melbourne crowds attend chaotic 2023 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Drive.com.au

[9] 2024 Formula One Australian Grand Prix race day tickets sold out – Drive.com.au



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