Formula 1 will have a new race in Spain from 2026 after finally confirming a long-expected grand prix in Madrid initially running to 2035.
F1 has never raced in the Spanish capital before although this will not be a conventional city street race but more of a hybrid akin to the Miami Grand Prix track, by using what F1 calls “street and non-street sections”.
The championship has found a home at the IFEMA exhibition venue and will use a 3.39-mile circuit that runs around the event complex as well as utilising some local roads.
A qualifying lap of 1m32s has been projected for the 20-turn circuit.
If so, it will be one of the longest on the calendar in terms of laptime, possibly shorter only than the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, the Baku street track, and classic Belgian GP venue Spa.
The first home to the F1 Exhibition, IFEMA Madrid is close to Madrid’s main international airport and less than half an hour from the city centre by train.
This is considered important by F1 as it estimates 90% of the 110,000-capacity crowd will be able to travel to the event using public transport, making it “one of the most sustainable F1 events of the season”.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali called Madrid “an incredible city with amazing sporting and cultural heritage” and said “today’s announcement begins an exciting new chapter for F1 in Spain”.
It also raises serious questions about the future of Spain’s existing F1 venue in the country’s second biggest city, Barcelona.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has hosted 33 grands prix since first appearing on the calendar in 1991, making it easily the most used Spanish F1 track.
But it has struggled to convince F1 it deserves a long-term place on the calendar in the Liberty Media era and is widely felt to have not matched the improvements made by other classic European venues in terms of hospitality and entertainment.
Madrid’s race starting in 2026 will coincide with the final race of Barcelona’s current contract, so unless something changes there will be at least one season with two races in Spain.
F1 does not see the Madrid announcement as a guarantee that Barcelona’s current deal will be its last.
"For the avoidance of doubt and to clarify here, the fact we are in Madrid is not excluding the fact we could stay in Barcelona for the future,” Domenicali was quoted as saying on F1's official website.
“Looking ahead, there are discussions in place to see if we can really extend our collaboration with Barcelona, with whom we have a very good relationship, for the future."
But as F1’s calendar has swollen to 24 grands prix it seems unlikely that the long-term solution will be for one European country to host two races, especially as the percentage of races on the continent has reduced.
Moreover, it appears that Madrid will be taking over the Spanish Grand Prix moniker, which would mean that the Barcelona race would presumably have to run under a different designation in 2026.
The Madrid track will be F1's seventh host venue in Spain.
In addition to the current Barcelona venue, the country has held F1 championship grands prix at Jerez and Jarama (a still-active permanent facility 30km away from the centre of Madrid) but also at as many as three street tracks - Pedralbes in Barcelona, Montjuic also in Barcelona and most recently the short-lived Valencia street race.