Record Attendance at 2022 Belgian Grand Prix as Spa is Confirmed for 2023

The Belgian Grand Prix attracted a record crowd in 2022 with a weekend attendance of 360,000. There was further good news for the Spa circuit over the race weekend, with Formula 1 confirming that the Belgian Grand Prix will remain on the calendar in 2023.

Max Verstappen dominated proceedings at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix. After setting the fastest time in qualifying by over half a second, the Dutchman served a grid penalty which dropped him to 14th on the grid. Despite that, Verstappen went on to lead almost three quarters of the race distance and won by almost 20 seconds. His presence on the grid has been one of the leading factors in the Belgian Grand Prix’s growing attendance figure, which was at a new record level in 2022.

The official attendance figure for the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix weekend was 360,000. The 2022 attendance figure is up by 147,000 compared to 2021, when attendance was capped at a maximum of 75,000 per day due to pandemic-related restrictions. The last Belgian Grand Prix to run at full attendance was the 2019 event, which 251,864 fans attended. The 2022 figure is up by over 100,000 on that number.

Multiple factors have contributed to the Belgian Grand Prix’s rising attendance figure in recent years. While the discontinuation of the German Grand Prix is one such factor, the “Verstappen effect” is undoubtedly the biggest.

In 2016, Belgian-born Verstappen’s first season with Red Bull, 25,000 fans visited the Belgian Grand Prix from the Netherlands. One year later, the total weekend attendance exceeded 250,000 for the first time since 2001, when Germany’s Michael Schumacher was driving the all-conquering Ferrari.

The new record figure in 2022 comes despite fans leaving the track disappointed last year due to weather conditions preventing racing action from taking place. A number of special events took place on Thursday at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix for fans who attended the 2021 race.

Spa continues trend of record 2022 F1 attendance figures

The Belgian Grand Prix is the fourth race this year to have had a weekend attendance of 300,000 or more. The Australian Grand Prix leads the way for the best-attended weekend, with a record 420,000 passing through the Albert Park circuit’s gates over the four days.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone also attracted over 400,000, with its Sunday attendance of 142,000 being the best of the season to date. Meanwhile races in Canada (338,000) and Austria (300,000) also saw large turnouts. Even the less-attended races on the calendar have had strong crowd figures in 2022. The Bahrain Grand Prix’s modest 35,000 strong race day attendance was a new record for the event.

Large crowd numbers are expected at a number of upcoming races, including the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas and next week’s Dutch Grand Prix, which will be open to a full-capacity crowd for the first time since its return to the calendar.

Belgian Grand Prix saved for 2023

One hour prior to the start of the race, Formula 1 confirmed that the Belgian Grand Prix will remain on the calendar in 2023. The news came after Spa had been at the centre of media speculation over its tenure on the schedule. The track was one of four which had not had its place on the 2023 calendar confirmed.

The one-year contract extension is welcome news to most F1 fans, with the iconic circuit having been one of the most enduring venues on the schedule. Spa was present in Formula 1’s inaugural season in 1950 and 2022 marked the 55th running of the Belgian Grand Prix at the track.

Track improvements for 2022 Belgian Grand Prix

Organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps invested heavily in improving the circuit and its facilities over the winter. While work was undertaken to improve safety for drivers on track, organisers were also keen to improve the experience trackside for fans. Among the changes is a new vast grandstand at the famous Eau Rouge complex, which no doubt will have helped boost the attendance figure.

Reports suggest that F1 bosses want the circuit to continue improving the facilities in order to strike a long-term deal to remain on the calendar. Areas of particular improvement include the paddock area and the traffic management system, which struggled to cope in 2022 with the inflated number of race attendees.

South Africa not expected to return in 2023

It is believed that Spa’s place on the calendar has been saved after plans to bring South Africa back to the calendar in 2023 fell through. The South African Grand Prix has long been expected to return at Kyalami following an absence of 30 years but it appears that the event will now not return until at least 2024 following the breakdown of contract negotiations with the race promoter.

While the French Grand Prix is not expected to return next year, Monaco and Mexico are tipped to sign new contracts to remain on the schedule. Meanwhile, China and Qatar are likely to return and a new race in Las Vegas is confirmed to take place towards the end of the year. The provisional 2023 calendar is expected to be revealed next month.

Were you at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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