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Boosted by Verstappen, Spa boasts record crowd for Belgian GP

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Formula 1 has confirmed a three-day attendance figure of 265,000 fans for last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, an outright record for the race.

Spa has enjoyed a boost in popularity since the arrival of Max Verstappen in F1 at the start of 2015, with tens of thousands of fans making the trip across the border from his native Netherlands.

An estimated 80,000 fans came over from Holland for this weekend’s race, aiding the surge to a record crowd for the race in Belgium.

“It’s been a busy and exciting weekend for all of Formula 1 and I think the thousands of spectators at this amazing circuit, as well as the millions that watched on television and on line, all enjoyed the show and saw just how spectacular this sport can be,” Ross Brawn, managing director for motorsports at Formula 1, said.

“It was also a special weekend for me personally, as it was a pleasure to be able to pass on the congratulations of the Schumacher family, in addition to my own, to Lewis Hamilton after he equalled Michael’s outright record of pole positions.

“It was also wonderful to see Michael’s son Mick, driving his father’s Benetton on the circuit where he scored the first of his 91 Formula 1 wins in 1992: these moments make Formula 1 special.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.