The Italian Grand Prix paddock was a bustling hub of activity for the final European round of the 2023 season. VIPs and assorted guests were present in droves throughout race weekend. As an integral component of the 304,000 strong crowd who turned up for the Monza weekend, these paddock guests signify the ongoing surge in F1‘s popularity.
However, this escalating popularity is becoming more difficult for drivers and teams to negotiate. F1 Initiative reported sightings of mechanics regularly battling to transport equipment, hindered by the sheer number of people present. This issue is extending beyond the track as well, infiltrating the very sanctuaries the teams rely on.
The teams’ hospitality units are witnesses to frequent intrusions. Pierre Gasly of Alpine spotted random people knocking on his hospitality room door, a space so intimate that it should be exempt from the chaos.
Although Gasly acknowledges enjoying the fans’ attention, he urges for some restraint. “I love fans, and I always love to stop by and give some time. But then it’s obviously our work environment,” he revealed in a conversation with F1 Initiative. He has called for more space for teams to fulfil their commitments effectively and on time.
Gasly emphasized, “Sometimes it’s a bit tricky to get around and make sure that we are on time for the commitments that we got because it’s minute by minute, and it’s clearly one of the busiest pitlanes.”
He elaborated on the perplexing situation, mentioning instances when random people knocked on the door inside the hospitality unit. “So [people need to] give the space we need to work properly,” he urged.
This is not a new issue; fan access has been a recurrent topic of discussion. Previous experiences like overcrowding at last year’s Mexican Grand Prix further highlight this. Gasly recalled that during his walk though the paddock in Mexico, he found his backpack had been opened.
Other drivers, including McLaren‘s Lando Norris, have also voiced their concern about the matter. Norris expressed the need for more respect from the fans, stating in Mexico, “I would say there’s not as many other sports where fans can get maybe quite as close now to the athletes.” He added, “But in a lot of the other sports, they just seem more respectful. They need to show that [respect] more often. As simple as that.”