Belgian GP set for sell-out thanks to 'Verstappen effect'

The Belgian Grand Prix is set for its biggest crowd since the Michael Schumacher era, as 'Max Verstappen mania' shows no sign of calming down.

Belgian GP set for sell-out thanks to 'Verstappen effect'
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For the first time since Schumacher's glory years with Ferrari, Spa has sold out all grandstand seats and only has general admittance tickets left for Friday and Saturday.

Belgian GP promoter Andre Maes said that predictions are for a sell-out crowd of more than 250,000 for the weekend, something that has not happened since 2001.

"It's correct that all the grandstand seats are sold out. Not just for Sunday, but for the entire weekend," Maes told Motorsport.com.

"At the request of the authorities, and for security reasons, we are forced to limit the amount of tickets sold. This number we have practically already reached, with over 260,000 spectators likely across the three days."

Belgium's ticket sales have been helped by arrival of Stoffel Vandoorne and the absence of the German GP from the calendar this year, although Maes says the impact of Verstappen is much bigger.

Last year many grandstands turned orange, with an estimated 25,000 Dutch fans flocking to the Belgian Ardennes to cheer on the Red Bull star.

"The Max Verstappen effect continues to be a reality. It's far more important for us than the disappearance of the German Grand Prix," Maes explains.

Schumacher car demo

The 2017 Belgian Grand Prix is the 50th edition held at Spa-Francorchamps, and fans have been promised a bigger show that before.

Part of the new on- and off-track entertainment includes a demo run of the 1992 Benetton B192, which Michael Schumacher drove to his first of a record six wins at the venue.

"Novelties are a fan zone which has two to three times the number of attractions compared to previous years", Maes adds.

Despite the increase in spectators, the grand prix made a 8.62 million Euro loss in 2016 compared to 6.78 million Euro in 2015.

According to Belgian business newspaper L'Echo, the deficit grew because of increased security measures and a contractual hike of the race fee, which grew by four million Euro due to a strengthening dollar.

Since 2007 the difference is paid every year by the regional government of Wallonia. A study by audit firm Deloitte revealed the economic benefits of the race are north of 27 million euro.

Motorsport.com understands the organisers have started early talks with Formula 1 on a new contract as the current deal runs out after the 2018 race, although Maes declines to go into further detail.

Asked about the state of talks, he said: "Our relations with Liberty Media are excellent."

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