IN an exclusive interview with El Mundo, Madrid Community President Isabel Ayuso confirmed that the capital will hold a Formula One race in 2026, with or without the government’s help.
The interview, published on Sunday, preceded today’s official announcement from the Community of Madrid and the FIA — F1’s governing body — which finally confirmed the event would move to the city.
The contract for the current Spanish Grand Prix — held at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona in Montmelo, Catalunya — is set to expire after 2026, putting Madrid at the front of discussions for the race’s replacement.
In the interview, Ayuso clarified that Montmelo’s contract will not affect Madrid’s standing.
“Whether Formula One leaves Barcelona or not has nothing to do with Madrid,” she told the newspaper.
“I’d prefer that it’s held in Madrid or another Spanish city before leaving the country,” she continued.
According to the Madrid president, Pedro Sanchez’s government has provided no support in the event’s planning, leaving it to be funded primarily by private investment.
Ayuso predicts the Madrid Grand Prix will contribute as much as €450 million to the local economy and create some 10,000 jobs.
She also highlighted the unique advantages of hosting the event in Madrid, including its proximity to hospitals and the airport, and the city’s cosmopolitan nature.
“Madrid will have F1’s best Grand Prix,” she said.
The Spanish Grand Prix
The FIA’s coming announcement will confirm the specifics of F1’s newest race, the details of which have been the source of speculation for months.
Though Barcelona has renewed its contract with the FIA through 2026, there is uncertainty as to whether F1 will remain at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona — where the Spanish Grand Prix has been held since 1991 — beyond the 2026 season.
In an El Pais interview on December 5, Generalitat de Catalunya spokeswoman Patricia Plaja didn’t confirm whether the race would continue past 2026.
“On the Government’s part we are working to make the 2024 Grand Prix wonderful,” she told the newspaper.
“Not only that, but the contract is valid until 2026 and we are continuing to work to extend the relationship as much as possible.”
Still, the commencement of a new F1 race in Madrid means it’s unlikely that the Barcelona Grand Prix will continue indefinitely, although there is the chance that the two races will coexist for one year, El Pais noted.
Madrid’s return to the F1 calendar would mark the first time the capital has held a race since the 1981 Madrid Grand Prix at the Jarama Circuit in San Sebastian de Los Reyes, about 32 kilometres north of the city centre.
But this time, the race won’t be held on a historic track in the city’s outskirts, as is the case for the current Spanish Grand Prix.
According to reports from Spanish media, the Madrid Grand Prix will most likely take the shape of an urban street circuit, winding through the city streets like the F1 tracks in Miami, Baku, and Las Vegas.
A similar style racetrack was built in Valencia for the Spanish leg of the European Grand Prix between 2008 and 2012 — the last time Spain held two F1 races simultaneously.
For the 2026 Madrid Grand Prix, Italian company Dromo will design the track’s layout, putting legendary racetrack architect Jarno Zaffelli in charge.
Zaffelli is known for his work designing or renovating numerous tracks on the current F1 calendar, including the Circuit Zandvoort — home of the Dutch Grand Prix — and the famous Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore.
Though organisers have remained tight-lipped, Spanish media has reported that the Madrid street circuit will likely run a route in the north of the city, connecting the IFEMA events centre to the Valdebebas neighbourhood.
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