The Spa-Francorchamps event was told by F1 in no uncertain terms to improve its fan offering in the wake of a disastrous, rained-out 2021 edition, with its heritage as one of F1's most historic and exciting circuits no longer sufficient to stay on the calendar.
Spa bought into Liberty Media's vision of what a modern grand prix should look like and pulled out all the stops to reinvigorate its event, aided by a government-backed 80m euro investment plan to bring the ageing circuit into the 21st century.
With improved facilities, new grandstands and off-track entertainment, the 2022 edition impressed F1's bosses, earning a fresh one-year extension for 2023 on the morning of the grand prix.
Groundhog Day now looms again for organiser Spa Grand Prix as, much like last year, its chances to agree to a fresh, one-year deal hung in the balance with efforts to revive the South African Grand Prix.
After that Kyalami plan was declared dead in the water for at least 2024, reports suggested Belgian's short-term future is secure, but talks with F1 on 2024 are still ongoing ahead of the late July event.
Meanwhile, Spa is continuing to double down on its efforts to improve its fan experience for the 2023 edition, which is as good as sold out. The only tickets still available on the event website include an "experience in the sky" lunch served atop a 150ft crane as guests enjoy unparalleled views of the Ardennes circuit.
"We have raised our capacity from 100,000 to 110,000 spectators per day, with an extra 10,000 grandstand tickets compared to last year," the event's commercial director Stijn de Boever told Autosport.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13, the rest of the field at the start
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
"We have two new grandstands opposite the endurance pits, one uncovered stand with 3,000 seats and a covered grandstand with 4,000 seats.
"As requested, we have improved security and facilities to accommodate these extra 10,000 fans, with larger fan zones and more comfort.
"We're going in the same direction with more entertainment options off the track, with new artists which will be announced over the coming weeks."
"There will also be new car parks and new zones to make coming to Spa a smoother experience. Cars without parking stickers won't be allowed in the immediate vicinity of the circuit, so fans lose less time."
As Spa continues its efforts to impress both fans and Formula 1 itself, questions marks over its long-term future remain, with Liberty Media continuing to chase new events around large metropoles. Later this year it is also gambling on taking on the promotion of the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix itself.
Calendar spots for European races are set to remain scarce, amid suggestions that Audi would be willing to back the revival of the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim when it officially enters as Sauber's works partner in 2026.
However, media reports that the Belgian Grand Prix and Zandvoort's Dutch Grand Prix are set to alternate races from 2025 onwards are understood to be premature.2023-06-09T12:00:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd