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I am addicted to Formula 1. I love it, and go to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix here in Melbourne each year. At this year’s race, the organisers introduced a new corporate entertainment area called Traction.

The Traction area is located on the outside of turn 4 of the circuit; an amazing vantage point. Traction is meant to be the place to be seen for cool young people who are looking for another overpriced party. Interest in the F1 is not required; in fact, it’s marketed as a party at the F1 for people not interested in F1. What?

I usually watch the race from the inside of turn 4 in the general admission area. In previous years used to look enviously at the corporate wankers in the elevated marque opposite ignoring the race from the best possible position. This year I watched young party princesses ignoring the race. While I was there to experience the event itself, they seemed indifferent to why they were in the middle of Albert Park surrounded by screaming F1 cars.

What is more interesting is that for 2007 Traction has been granted an equal opportunity exemption from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to sell discounted tickets to women to encourage more women to attend the race. However, this is not for all entry tickets – it is only for Traction. The GP wants to attract more women (about 15% of GP attendees are women according to this Age article.

The official press release [PDF] says “The Traction facility is a way of getting younger people, especially females, not traditionally interested in motor sports to experience the event in a high quality, social atmosphere.” The image on the Traction homepage shows 7 attractive twentysomething women and 1 man of a similar age. It is clearly marketed at women. The photos in the gallery show a generic party atmosphere. There are no pictures of the area’s view of the circuit, racing cars or even a map showing where on the circuit it is located. For race fans, position is crucial. This demonstrates that Traction is all about the party and nothing about experiencing F1.

To me, this is a complete waste of a prime viewing position and a farce of failed logic. If they want to make a significant increase in women attending the race, all tickets should be priced lower for women. Traction is a relatively small space and it alone will make no significant difference. For the sake of argument let’s say Traction can take 500 people. They state their aim is to have a 50 / 50 gender balance. That makes 250 women their target audience. Using the 15% average number of women who would normally attend (ie 75 out of 500), all this effort will increase the number of women attending the F1 by 175 (the difference between 75 and 250). Wow. I’m underwhelmed, how about you?

Given that on race day the crowd figure in 2006 was reported on the official GP site as 103,000, of which approximately 15,000 would be women, this 175 advance in numbers is simply absurd. It fails to achieve the objective of making F1 more interesting to women. Interest in sport is purely subjective and quite arbitrary. I like motor racing, you like football. End of discussion. To each his or her own. What is really going on?

Economically, it also makes no sense. In 2006 the Traction ticket prices were: Friday, 31 March: $200; Saturday, 1 April: $250; Sunday, 2 April: $250. Again, based purely on race day, 500 x $250 is $125,000. Discounting tickets reduces profits. Attracting women to a party does nothing to attract them to F1.

I want to go to Traction in 2007 in order to enjoy the amazing view of the race I would have from their position, but being surrounded by bimbo party idiots may well drown my enthusiasm in resentment. This is another example of the dumbing down of the world. If you’re not interested in F1, then PLEASE DON’T GO TO THE RACE. I can’t stand hearing your uninformed babble and constant complaints about the heat / cold / wind / rain / noise / waiting / food. F1 is for F1 fans. Most of them are in general admission. They want to see the race, not go to a DJ show.

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