Max Chilton thinks F1 could learn from IndyCar's open fan culture
After three seasons racing in the USA, British driver Max Chilton has learned to embrace IndyCar's approach to fan experience. The former Formula 1 racer believes that America's more welcoming approach is something that grand prix racing should aim to emulate.
"IndyCar is very open and it's basically access all areas apart from the pit lane", said Chilton speaking to GQ magazine. "Anyone can walk around the paddock, so I think that gives fans real value for money."
While F1 does have larger attendance figures as a whole, which can in part explain its lack of access, IndyCar is able to offer close access to fans even at its flagship event: the Indy 500. With a reported crowd in excess of 300,000 spectators at the track on raceday, the Indy 500's attendance was only surpassed by three grands prix in 2017: Mexico (337,000), Britain (344,500) and Canada (360,000), albeit that these races took three days to accomplish these numbers.
"I'm a golf fan, and if I've bought a ticket to watch a tournament I want to be able to get within a few metres of the action. With F1, it's like you have to get your binoculars out to see the guys", explained Chilton.
This season, he will headline Carlin Racing's first foray into a senior open wheel championship alongside teammate Charlie Kimball. A British driver with a British team in America's premier open wheel championship; yet another sign of the series' potential for international expansion.
"It's got the legs to grow, and it is growing", said the Briton. "It used to be really hard to watch IndyCar unless you were on a weird website and streaming it, whereas now it's shown on [British broadcaster] BT without ad breaks. It's really approachable for a lot more of the public and Fernando Alonso coming over for the Indy 500 last year gave it a massive boost."