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Formula One's corporate hospitality area the Paddock Club has hardly changed in format since it was launched in 1984. It offers well-heeled F1 fans (usually guests of teams and sponsors) the opportunity to watch the race in a deluxe environment with a gourmet buffet, champagne bar, and tours of the pits. Tents are adorned with fresh flowers and even the lawns on which the marquees are built must make the grade. Fresh turf is often flown in from England and rolled out on site. This year prices range up to £3,960 for a two-day ticket in Monaco but those who are prepared to pay extra can get an even more premium experience - the platinum club.
The original premise behind this new development was to fill a gap in the market. It is believed that since the activity in the F1 Paddock Club is not directly business focussed, tickets are becoming harder to claim as tax deductible expenses. Accordingly, the Paddock Club organisers discussed plans to create a club where the very top guests could network in a business-like environment at every race. It is a similar club concept to the Formula 100 sponsors organisation which is 33% owned by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt and hosted an event in September last year.
The original plan was for the new club in the Paddock Club to be sponsored by F1's official partner, the investment bank UBS, which would give it the name the UBS Club. However, a source close to the bank says "its called Platinum Club not UBS," and adds that it "was up and functioning at the China GP I believe." It is work in progress which will presumably gain more momentum as it continues. Whilst it may seem to be a frill for the rich, it could be an important step in making F1 even more accessible to businesses which is ultimately a positive move for the sport.
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