The Formula 1 season got off to a record-breaking start, with organisers of the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix reporting a race day crowd of 36,000 – the largest attendance in the event’s history.
Max Verstappen stormed to victory in the season-opening 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, leading home team-mate Sergio Perez in a race that was dominated by the Red Bull team. Aston Martin lived up to the pre-season hype, with Fernando Alonso taking the final spot on the podium. Alonso supplied most of the evening’s entertainment, with some sensational overtaking moves on his way to the 99th podium finish of his Formula 1 career.
Bahrain International Circuit has reported a record-breaking race day attendance at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix of 36,000. It’s the largest single day attendance figure in the event’s history and is up by 1,000 on last year’s reported number.
Race organisers reported that tickets were sold out on the Tuesday before the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, however limited numbers remained available via reseller websites. The total weekend attendance at the event was 99,500 – up 1,500 on the total attendance at the 2022 race.
A history of Bahrain Grand Prix attendance figures
The Bahrain Grand Prix has one of the more modest attendance figures of any race on the Formula 1 calendar. That’s largely due to the lower capacity of the circuit, with only the Azerbaijan Grand Prix generally attracting fewer fans over the race weekend.
Attendance figures have reached six figures at the Bahrain Grand Prix only twice. Contemporary reports claimed that weekend attendances in 2008 and 2010 reached 100,000.
The lowest race day attendance figure came in 2006, when the season-opening 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix attracted only 22,000 fans to the track.
Early races at Bahrain International Circuit had a crowd made up largely of Bahrain nationals, with 54.5% of the 2005 race crowd being from the host nation. International attendance at the event has increased in recent years. An estimated 34.5% of tickets for the 2022 race were sold to international visitors, with race organisers reporting a large increase in visitors from the Netherlands, owing to Max Verstappen’s successes.
Speaking about the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix attendance figure, Chairman at Bahrain International Circuit, Arif Rahimi noted the continual rise in international visitors to the circuit:
“Our sell-out crowd over the weekend reflects the incredible popularity of Formula 1 across the world. What is especially encouraging is that we are attracting more fans than ever before from overseas and also bringing in a new generation to the sport. Moreover, the passion of the Bahraini fans is as intense as I have ever seen.”
The Bahrain Grand Prix will remain on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2036 after race organisers signed one of the longest-ever contract extensions early last year. Tickets for the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix – at which the event will celebrate its 20th anniversary – are already on sale via the circuit’s website.
It’s believed that next year’s Bahrain Grand Prix will not be the first race of the season, out of respect for Ramadan. The race weekend is likely to fall later in the year, while Saudi Arabia will take up the honour of hosting the first race of 2024.
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix the most sustainable ever at circuit
Over the race weekend, Formula 1 and race organisers announced that the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix was the most sustainable race ever held at the track. In line with F1’s net zero 2030 goals, Bahrain International Circuit constructed a solar production facility last year. The facility generated enough energy to cover all circuit usage over the F1 weekend, “with significant capacity to spare”.
Further measures have been taken to reduce energy consumption at the circuit, including the replacement of all lighting to LED lights, plus new building management systems which efficiently monitor air conditioning. The measures are expected to save 30% in energy use at the track over the course of the year.
Formula 1’s Head of Sustainability, Ellen Jones, said that similar initiatives will be in place at other races throughout the 2023 season:
“It is great to see how the Bahrain Grand Prix has embraced sustainability, demonstrating the direct action we are looking for from our promoters in Formula 1 as we continue towards our goal of being Net Zero by 2030. Last year we issued guidance to all our Race Promoters to help assist them in best practice when running a sustainable event looking at key areas such as energy, plastic & waste, wellbeing & nature and local fan travel. We are looking forward to seeing these initiatives in place at events throughout the season, starting with the season opener in Bahrain this weekend.”
Formula 1 set for more record-breaking races in 2023
Ahead of the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 announced a total attendance of 5.7 million across the 22 races held in the 2022 season. The figure is up 36% on 2019, the last full season in which crowd numbers were not impacted by coronavirus related restrictions.
With 23 races on the 2023 calendar, attendance figures are expected to rise even further this year and could exceed 6 million. Tickets for some races have already sold out, while limited numbers of tickets remain available for other popular events on the calendar.