F1 introduced this week (23 January) that Madrid will host the Spanish GP from 2026, however why is the transfer occurring and has the collection visited Spain’s capital earlier than?
These are all questions which have been raised for the reason that information, plus many extra like what’s the circuit like, and does it imply the way forward for Barcelona – the present Spanish GP venue – is unsure?
The transfer is a part of a long-term contract for Madrid which expires in 2035 and the plan is to race on a hybrid 3.4-mile circuit that includes road and non-street sections, topic to FIA approval.
It has sparked controversy from the F1 group as a result of Madrid provides to the checklist of non-permanent tracks which have joined the calendar in recent times like Jeddah, Miami and Las Vegas.
This implies in 2026 there’ll possible be a minimum of 9 non-permanent circuits in an F1 season, which might be virtually a 3rd of races if the calendar stays at 24 rounds.
That could be a giant enhance from 10 years in the past when there have been simply 4 short-term circuits – Australia, Monaco, Canada and Singapore – on the 2014 calendar, suggesting that city tracks are one thing Liberty Media, the homeowners of F1, are pushing additional in direction of.
The place in Madrid is the F1 circuit positioned?
The 2026 Spanish GP might be held within the space of Campo de las Naciones, which is inside Madrid’s municipality however round 18.6 miles north-east of the town centre.
Its circuit might be constructed on the fairgrounds by IFEMA Madrid’s conference centre, which already hosts varied exhibitions and occasions from music live shows to theatre reveals, whereas Actual Madrid CF’s coaching advanced can be close by.
In the meantime, Madrid’s airport can be native to IFEMA, so consider it just like the London E-Prix which occurs on the grounds of the ExCel Worldwide Exhibition and Conference Centre simply three miles east of Canary Wharf and a mile stroll from London Metropolis Airport.
Madrid F1 circuit observe information
Madrid’s circuit might be a hybrid 3.4-mile observe, topic to FIA approval, the place its 20 corners – all of differing speeds – contribute to a predicted lap time of 1m32s. It’s going to function each road sections working by means of the IFEMA exhibition constructing space and non-street elements which might be but to be constructed on the land adjoining, the place the 2 bits might be related by a pair of tunnels drawing comparisons to Miami.
The lap begins with a brief run to the chicane of Turns 1 and a pair of earlier than a quick Flip 3 bend takes the circuit clockwise. A reasonably lengthy straight takes drivers into one other proper bend taken flat-out earlier than a sudden left chicane at Turns 5 and 6.
Vehicles are then taken by means of the primary tunnel earlier than going uphill to a bit of present roads from Turns 7 to 9, which begins with one other chicane earlier than a fast right-hander.
That sequence is adopted by an extended straight taking drivers to the steep, 180 levels Flip 10 bend that’s banked in the same approach to the ultimate nook at Zandvoort Circuit. Designers hope a primary overtaking spot is what follows with the sharp, left-handed Flip 11 which is rapidly adopted by a pointy right-hander.
Subsequent up is a really quick and twisty sequence by means of Turns 13 and 17, which runs by means of the second tunnel and again into the principle exhibition centre the place drivers should navigate a collection of high-speed bends.
The lap is then slowed proper down for its ultimate three corners, much like Sochi Autodrome’s ultimate sector, to finish the lap.
Picture by: Motorsport Images
A bull combating poster on a information stand in Jarama, ambiance
Why is F1 transferring to Madrid?
F1 is transferring to Madrid for a lot of causes. The primary is clearly monetary, as Madrid can have put a package deal collectively that was laborious for F1 to show down.
Secondly, F1 has mentioned that sustainability is an enormous issue in selecting Spain’s capital as a result of, over the previous 5 years, IFEMA Madrid has lowered its carbon footprint by 78% which is according to F1’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
As well as, all of IFEMA’s buildings use 100% licensed renewable power and so they need to implement zero waste disposal in any respect websites by 2026.
However, maybe the largest purpose for F1 selecting Madrid is its accessibility. Since Liberty Media took possession of F1 it has pushed for extra city tracks making it simpler for followers to attend and Madrid’s circuit can have an preliminary capability of 110,000, earlier than growing to 140,000 over the primary half of its contract.
The venue can be nicely served by public transport because it has its personal metro station on the identical line as Madrid airport simply three miles out from IFEMA, so followers can theoretically be on the observe shortly after arriving in Spain.
This contrasts Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya, which is 26 miles from the town’s airport and visitors getting out and in of the venue has usually triggered controversy.
In the meantime, many different non-urban tracks like Spa-Francorchamps – whose F1 contract is barely till 2025 – is 49.7 miles from its nearest airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport, which is definitely in the Netherlands and never Belgium thus why Liberty Media needs extra metropolis circuits.
Picture by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
Max Verstappen, Crimson Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, the rst of the sector in the beginning
Will Barcelona be dropped from the F1 calendar?
The Spanish GP transferring to Madrid from 2026 has inevitably triggered doubt over Barcelona’s future, the place its Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya has hosted the occasion since 1991.
So, do F1 suppose it is value visiting Spain twice a yr? Stefano Domenicali does because the F1 CEO instructed the championship’s official web site “the very fact we’re in Madrid is just not excluding the very fact we may keep in Barcelona for the longer term”.
Nonetheless, slots on the F1 calendar are actually at a premium because the collection is at present experiencing a growth in recognition, the place the variety of venues curious about internet hosting a grand prix exceeds the quantity of races that may be included on the calendar.
As well as, Madrid joins Melbourne and Bahrain in having a new contract which goes beyond 2030 so that’s one other problem posed to Barcelona in attempting to rearrange a long-term cope with F1, whereas the venue additionally doesn’t match Liberty Media’s mould of wanting tracks in city areas.
Due to this fact, many obstacles confront Barcelona in its struggle to remain on the calendar, however Spain has emerged as an enormous market not too long ago with double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso and grand prix winner Carlos Sainz each hailing from the nation, whereas the collection has signed a contract with DAZN, who broadcast the collection in Spain, till a minimum of 2026.
So, it definitely isn’t out of the query for Spain to host two grands prix within the season because it has carried out in earlier years by means of the European GP. This was an occasion launched within the Nineteen Eighties the place the race visited a rustic that already had its personal grand prix, so in 1994, it was hosted by Jerez whereas the Spanish GP was in Barcelona.
Jerez hosted the European GP as soon as extra in 1997 earlier than the occasion returned to Spain in 2008 with Valencia, which remained on the F1 calendar till 2012. So, there have been seven instances within the historical past of F1 that Spain has hosted two races in a season which means that tally may enhance, however it will likely be an enormous job for Barcelona to make it eight or extra.
Picture by: Motorsport Images
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F310B, leads the sector in the beginning
Has F1 visited Madrid earlier than?
In 2026 Madrid will finish a 45-year absence from the F1 calendar, having final visited the capital in 1981. Madrid hosted the Spanish GP 11 instances between 1967 and 1981, though two of these – ’67 and ’80 – had been non-championship races which means it was not a part of any collection so drivers weren’t racing for factors.
The Jarama circuit, within the Neighborhood of Madrid however roughly 18.6 miles from the town centre, was constructed for 1967 and the unique observe was a really twisty format largely crammed with quick bends as 12 corners helped full a 2.12-mile lap.
Jim Clark gained the primary Spanish GP to be held on the Jarama circuit, however the next yr Graham Hill took victory when it wasn’t a non-championship race and a part of the F1 calendar for the primary time. From 1969 F1 started to alternate Jarama with Barcelona’s Montjuic Circuit, till a deadly accident – Rolf Stommelen crashed into the spectator space inflicting 4 followers to die – in 1975 ended Montjuic’s keep on the calendar, leaving Madrid because the everlasting host from ’76 to ’81.
Jarama additionally delivered many historic moments in its time on the F1 calendar, together with Niki Lauda’s first grand prix victory in 1974.
Lauda began from pole in moist situations, however he misplaced the result in Ronnie Peterson at race begin earlier than re-gaining place by means of the pit-stop window. He later crossed the road 35.6 seconds forward of Clay Regazzoni in a Ferrari 1-2, as Peterson retired with an engine failure whereas the 1974 Spanish GP additionally ended six laps wanting the scheduled 90 as a result of it hit the two-hour most.
Lauda was once more combating on the entrance in F1’s subsequent go to to Jarama. The Ferrari driver was initially declared the winner of the 1976 Spanish GP, as his championship rival James Hunt was disqualified in post-race scrutineering as a result of his McLaren automotive was discovered to be 1.5cm too vast. Nonetheless, McLaren later appealed the choice and Hunt was reinstated as race victor as a result of the 1.5cm distinction was “minimal”.
Many extra memorable moments occurred in Jarama after Hunt’s victory, like Mario Andretti claiming back-to-back wins in 1977-78, whereas the 1980 Spanish GP was a non-championship occasion as a result of it occurred on the peak of the FISA-FOCA struggle – an enormous dispute between Jean-Marie Balestre’s governing physique and the Bernie Ecclestone-led band of constructors.
Picture by: David Phipps
The sphere heads in direction of the primary nook in the beginning of the race
Williams’ Alan Jones gained the 1980 Spanish GP, however Jarama was again on the F1 calendar for 1981 for what proved to be the final time. The 1981 Spanish GP was a spectacle on-track because it gave Gilles Villeneuve his ultimate grand prix victory, however solely 25,000 followers attended resulting from excessive ticket costs and a bomb menace from terrorist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, often known as ETA.
So, with considerations over security and funds Jarama dropped off the F1 calendar – as did Spain till 1986 with the addition of Jerez – and has not returned since.