Max Verstappen dominated the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix in front of a race day crowd of over 125,000 – the largest at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya since 2008.
Max Verstappen dominated the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix weekend, scoring the third Grand Slam victory of his career and extending his already sizeable championship lead. The on-track action was witnessed by 125,565 fans on race day. It’s the fourth-largest race day attendance on record since Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya began hosting the Spanish Grand Prix in 1991.
Most tickets for the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix sold out in advance of the race weekend. When tickets for the Carlos Sainz Grandstand went on sale in March, they sold out in under half an hour.
Spanish Grand Prix organisers made a number of changes to the event ahead of the 2023 race. The most notable of the changes was the removal of the chicane in the final sector, with the track reverting to its faster, pre-2007 layout. There were over 100 overtakes in the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix – compared to 75 overtakes in the 2022 race. The removal of the chicane has been attributed as a major factor in this increase in on-track action.
Fewer complaints than in 2022
Further improvements were made trackside for fans at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix. The changes came after a farcical weekend for fans at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, who experienced long queues, transport issues and a lack of food and water trackside. Last year’s issues were exacerbated by the race taking place in extreme heat conditions.
There were far fewer complaints about the Spanish Grand Prix experience in 2023 than in 2022, though it is clear from social media that certain issues still remain. Traffic jams continued to be an problem, with some fans reporting two hour queues to make it out of the circuit’s car parks. Public transport systems had also not been perfected, with many reporting delays to train and shuttle services between the track and Barcelona.
Alonso’s return to the front boosts attendance
Fernando Alonso’s return to the front of the grid is one of the major factors in the Spanish Grand Prix’s boost in attendance this year. Weekend attendance at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix was 284,066 – up by over 6,000 on last year’s figure of 277,836. It’s also an increase of over 100,000 on the last known four day pre-pandemic weekend attendance figure at the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix.
The race day attendance figure at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix, 125,565, makes it the fourth best-attended Sunday in the circuit’s history. The 2008 Spanish Grand Prix, which had a race day crowd of 128,000, is the last race day figure to exceed the 2023 attendance. The 2006 and 2007 Spanish Grands Prix are the only better-attended Catalunya races, peaking with over 140,000 fans in attendance on race day in 2007.
Sadly for Alonso fans, the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix wasn’t a vintage weekend for the home hero. After picking up floor damage, the Aston Martin driver could qualify no higher than ninth. He made some progress in the race, crossing the finish line in seventh.
It was Spain’s other home star, Carlos Sainz, who enjoyed a more successful result. After lining up on the front row of the grid, the Ferrari driver came home in fifth place. He maintained his record of picking up points on all nine of his Spanish Grand Prix appearances to date.
The partisan crowd did at least see one home victory over the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Alonso’s protege Pepe Martí took victory in the Formula 3 Feature Race on Sunday morning.
More sell-out events on the way
It’s set to be a summer of big attendances at Formula 1 races across Europe. Most of F1’s upcoming race weekends – including events in Austria, Hungary and Belgium – have very few tickets remaining. It’s a similar story for the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix; the next round of the season and the final flyaway stop on the calendar before F1’s return to Europe.
Meanwhile, speaking to Motorsport Magazine, Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle said he expects a weekend crowd of 480,000 at the 2023 British Grand Prix. That would be an increase of around 80,000 from last year, aided by the addition of 9,000 new grandstand seats. Tickets for the race weekend are mostly sold out.
The United States Grand Prix was the best-attended race weekend last year, attracting 440,000 fans. That figure has already been broken in 2023, with a record 444,000 in attendance at the 2023 Australian Grand Prix.
Other races in 2023 have attracted record crowds. The Bahrain Grand Prix sold out with a record race day crowd of 36,000, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is believed to have attracted 150,000 fans while the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is thought to have sold out for the first time in its history. In America, the Miami Grand Prix – the first of three stateside races in 2023 – enjoyed a weekend attendance of 270,000. That’s an increase of 30,000 on its inaugural year in 2022.