COTA General Admission Tips & View Guide for F1

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

COTA general admission views for the US GP

The COTA general admission tickets give fans some of the best value circuit access for the Formula 1 and biggest events, being a lot cheaper than grandstand tickets.

This article provides some hints, tips and information for general admission pass holders on race weekend, including an overview of all the viewing areas, what to bring, food and drink policies and more.

Contents

COTA general admission tickets

2024 COTA F1 General Admission ‘Grounds Pass’ tickets start at around $300 for a 3-day ticket.

This is the cheapest way to access the US Grand Prix, but with it you have no access to grandstands. Your tickets only get you access to the General Admission viewing areas (see sections below for details).

However, GA tickets often sell out on the official website, and if they are still available there, they’re only offered as 3-day passes.

So I would recommend buying tickets through StubHub instead, where there’s loads of GA tickets available and they can be bought in even cheaper single-day ticket options.

I have used StubHub a number of times for buying F1 tickets over the last 12 months, including  a single-day ticket to the Las Vegas GP, and have always had a great experience.

As a comparison, the cheapest grandstand seat tickets are $750 for the lower rows in the main grandstand at COTA, or the Turn 6 infield grandstand. The lower rows always have slightly worse views than the higher rows, but prices go up hundreds of dollars for sitting in the higher rows.

The general admission pass is usually great value in comparison to the grandstand seats. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the COTA hospitality options.

Wondering whether there’s any point attending on the Friday as well? Well there’ll be a practice session and qualifying session on the day (as it’s a Sprint weekend). Plus a host of other track activity from support races to demonstration runs. 

See the COTA F1 schedule in full for more details on what’s going on over the weekend.

COTA ground pass GA viewing area

Friday will be the quietest day of the weekend. It gives you an extra day when the circuit is at its least busy to get familiar with the venue and scout out some of the best viewing spots. More on that below.

The full 3-day pass isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of walking to be done, and with the Texas heat you’ll probably be pretty wiped out after a couple of days. Saving your energy for the Saturday and Sunday can be a sensible choice

COTA General Admission viewing

If you have COTA general admission grounds passes you don’t have access to any bleachers or grandstands over the weekend. Instead you can view the action from any of the grassy areas around the circuit. Read my guide on COTA entrance gates to work out the best place to get in to the circuit.

Luckily Circuit of the Americas is one of the best tracks on the F1 calendar for general admission viewing. The elevation changes around the track allow for some great vantage points, plus most of the grassy areas have a bank alongside the edge of the track that helps see over the catch fence.

The map below shows the COTA general admission viewing areas in blue.

Note that for other events such as the MotoGP and Nascar the grandstands at turns 2, 4, 6, 9 and 19 are likely to be missing. The space they take up can instead be used for general admission viewing.

COTA general admission viewing areas and grandstand locations

On the map above the COTA general admission viewing areas are clearly marked, however in reality there’s rarely any defined boundaries around these areas (except the fence next to the track!) So you’re pretty free to roam around these areas to try and find your favourite spot.

The best thing to do is spend the non-race days walking around the circuit and scouting out all of the different places to watch the action from. 

Be prepared to get your steps in though, it’s a big circuit and can be hilly in places. Most walking paths are dusty or gravelly so wear something suitable on your feet. 

COTA general admission zones

Then, come race day on the Sunday, head for your favourite spot as early as possible and claim your space. If it’s a popular spot such as Turn 1 it will be absolutely packed so be prepared to try and protect that space all day. Plus you’ll need to get there as early as possible, well before the gates open.

Giant TV screens are usually only in place for people sat in grandstands, so if you want to see one you’ll need to be alongside a stand. 

The only exceptions are at Turn 11 and the infield viewing area on the back straight; both have additional screens for the general admission fans.

Turn 1 general admission viewing area

Turn 2 general admission viewing area:

Turn 6 general admission viewing area:

Turn 11 general admission viewing area:

Back straight infield general admission viewing area:

Turn 16 general admission viewing area (at 5:17):

Turn 19 general admission viewing area:

Best General Admission viewing area at COTA

For a great view that covers a lot of the track the Turn 1 area is probably be the best, with views of the whole start / finish straight, Turns 1 and 2 and visibility of turns 17, 18 and 19 across the track. 

Most other people seem to think the same, however, and come Sunday it gets ridiculously busy here. Think sardines in a tin kind of busy.

You’re also close to the podium so will have quick access to get a spot close to the front to watch the US GP trophy being lifted at the end of the race.

The general admission viewing area at Turn 6 gives great views of the cars coming through the incredibly high speed ‘esses’ where they experience maximum downforce at the circuit. 

The cars are impressive to watch here, and if you get the right spot you can see from Turn 2 all the way to Turn 6. You can also catch glimpses of them down the back straight. Another very busy area, however.

Turn 6 at COTA for the F1 race

USGP” by Joe McGowan is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

One spot definitely worth checking out is the area from Turns 17 to 19. Being on the other side of the track this is usually a bit quieter as it’s a longer walk if you’re parked south of the circuit, but the grass banking gives great views of turns 17 to 19 plus you can see across the track to Turn 1.

COTA grounds pass viewing area F1

Getting to COTA

The likelihood is you’ll be driving to the circuit for the F1 weekend. This brings its own set of challenges when it comes to parking, so check out our full COTA parking guide for information and tips on how to save money and beat the worst of the traffic.

The other option is to use COTA’s park and ride service. Again there’s a few things to know about using this, so read our COTA Shuttle and Park & Ride guide for more info.

Commentary broadcast

It can be hard to hear the commentary through the loudspeakers. So there’s a couple of other options for finding race commentary at the COTA F1 weekend: 

  • ESPN usually broadcast commentary for the qualifying and race on 102.7 FM
  • Speed City Broadcasting provide qualifying and race commentary on AM 1370
  • Pay for and download the F1 TV app (but cell signal is so bad this isn’t likely to work)

What to wear to COTA

See our guide on what to wear to the F1 at Austin for tips, suggestions and examples on what to wear.

What to bring to COTA

Below is my list of things that I would consider taking to the F1 at COTA. For more information on what to wear, see our guide to the Austin F1 dress code.

General

  • Tickets / wristband
  • Lanyard for tickets
  • Money – cards & contactless payment all worth bringing. COTA is cashless, there are no ATMs. Not all vendors use Apple or Google pay so bring a card too.
  • Bag / rucksack – max size 12x12x20 inches
  • I.D. for buying alcohol

Weather protection

  • Sun cream
  • UV protection lip balm
  • Sun hat / cap
  • Sun glasses
  • Rain protection – it rained at the 2015 race, anything’s possible! Poncho, waterproof shoes, tarp
  • Small hand-held umbrella for shade or rain
  • Shoes suitable for walking – paths are dusty

Electronics

  • Fully charged phone
  • Battery bank / power pack
  • Still camera with zoom lens
  • Video camera
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Spare memory cards
  • Portable radio with headphone socket to find commentary broadcasts
  • Headphones to plug in to the radio 
  • F1 app on your phone to keep up with the action (unlikely to work due to bad cell reception)

Spectating

  • Folding camping chair(s) – essential!
  • Collapsible wagon
  • Ear plugs or ear defenders, especially for young kids
  • Binoculars
  • Blanket
  • Small cushion (equally useful on grandstand seats)
  • Baby stroller
  • Stadium back seats (if you have bleacher tickets)
  • Some merch or memorabilia for the drivers to sign at autograph sessions

Food / drink

  • Water bottle – rules state one factory sealed 20oz bottle each but that doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced. People use hydro flasks and other bigger refillable bottles, there are water stations all over.
  • Camelback (should be empty)
  • Trash bag – don’t leave any litter!
  • Tissues / wet wipes
  • You’re not supposed to bring your own food or alcoholic beverages in to the circuit. Enforcement of that is pretty lax on the Friday and Saturday but stricter on the Sunday.

COTA prohibited items

The items below are prohibited by COTA. For more detail see their venue policies here.

prohibited items for COTA general admission ticket holders

COTA bag policy

The COTA bag policy is that no bags bigger than 12x12x20 inches are allowed. The bags don’t have to be clear.

A small to medium size rucksack is usually fine and will get in to the venue without any issue. All bags are now screened for weapons on the way in and most are searched.

Food and drink at COTA

As the rules above state, you’re not allowed to bring your own food or alcohol in to COTA. On Friday and Saturday the bag searching is pretty relaxed and generally the security is only on the lookout for glass or beer bottles, so a lot of people get away with it. Sunday is always stricter.

Generally it depends who’s checking your bag. Try and bring some supplies, but nothing that you’d be too annoyed with if it gets thrown in the trash by security. Small snacks should be ok.

There are countless food and drink vendors around the circuit, a lot of which are individual food trucks which means prices can vary. But queues can be huge, with waits of over 45 minutes not unusual. Sometimes the vendors run out. And unsurprisingly nothing is cheap. 

Food and drink queue at COTA F1

Expect to pay $12 for a beer or an iced coffee, $40+ for a whole pizza or $25 for a burger and fries. Some vendors are cheaper and more reasonably priced, you just have to search around.

If you really want your own food (and it will probably be better quality than most of the vendors on site), you can always leave it in your car and go back for it at lunch, if your car is nearby.

There are water stations dotted around the circuit but these can have big queues and have also run out in previous years. To be safe leave some extra water in your car, you can always go back for it if you need.

F1 merch

There will be what seems like hundreds of F1 merchandise stalls around the venue. These will be super expensive. $100 baseball caps and $120 t-shirts are not unheard of.

If you really want some merch, buy it cheaper online before you go.

COTA F1 merchandise vendors

Austin F1 concerts

There will be live music throughout the weekend with headline acts performing each evening after the racing has finished.

See our guide to the Austin F1 concerts for the lineup, schedule and more info on tickets.

COTA F1 driver autographs

There is no longer an autograph signing session at the US Grand Prix at COTA as it used to be mayhem.

Instead the drivers will appear on the Germania Amphitheatre stage in the F1 Fan Zone at various times across the weekend to give some interviews and wave to the crowd.

COTA track invasion

The Formula 1 event at Circuit of the Americas is famous for the track invasion once the race is over. This is one of the most exciting parts of the whole weekend – tens of thousands of fans swarm on to the Grand Prix track layout at COTA and head towards to the podium at the start of the pitlane.

COTA list some official places where you can enter the track, these being either side of the main grandstand, Turn 1 and Turn 19. But in reality people end up jumping fences and squeezing themselves on to the circuit wherever they can.

You can usually spend a good bit of time on the track after the race until you’re kicked off. It’s a nice way to spend another hour or two, looking at all of the shreds of rubber left on the circuit, rather than sitting in traffic.

COTA F1 track invasion

US GP - What to Expect

I’ll send you my 6 must-know tips for attending the COTA F1 race so you are fully prepared, know what to expect and get the most out of the event.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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chuy

hello i have a question for the austin race, the grandstand are 590 vs the GA 475, the price different is worth dont it? turn 4 .. any section 14 – 17 .. if so which one will you suggest me? thanks alot!

Pedro

Just to be clear if you buy a grandstand ticket. It still gives you access to GA? Bc I wanted to do GA for a Friday but also have a seat for Sat and Sun. TIA

joe

Hi, I have a question too.. how come my GA ticket has a number on it? for example, it says Sec GA14. Are there different GA sections and am I only allowed to be in section 14?
And approx. how long does it take to walk from turn 1 to 3? This will be my first time going so I do not know the etiquette – do people with GA tickets walk to different GA spots during that race?

Kat

Forgive me, first time to an F1 race so excuse the dumb question. I thought GA included food and drink, if so what is it usually?

Angelica

Hello I have a question where can a look for other parking options ?

Melanie

Hi, I’m looking to buy Turn 1 tickets, but wondering if you have any suggestions on whats the best section to get? And even row.. lower or higher up? Thanks!

Kevin

My son is in a wheelchair. Where are the best accessible seating areas and would GA be an option?

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