8 Apr, 2024 @ 11:36
1 min read

F1 row in Spain: Environmentalists blast plans to parade sports cars through the streets of Barcelona ahead of Grand Prix in June

ENVIRONMENTALIST groups have blasted plans to host a Formula One roadshow in Barcelona city centre ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in June.

F1 cars, which can reach speeds in excess of 200mph, will drive along the Passeig de Gracia boulevard after plans for the exhibition were revealed last week. 

The bustling thoroughfare will become home to VIP boxes, hospitality, food and drink stalls – an F1 Fan Village will also be installed in Placa Catalunya as authorities look to whip up enthusiasm for the annual Spanish Grand Prix, hosted at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 23.

The layout of the F1 Live Show along the Passeig de Gracia boulevard in Barcelona.

However, the plans have provoked the ire of local environmentalist groups who claim the exhibition is ‘absurd’ and will worsen air quality.

In a statement on X, Eixample Respira, who campaign for the improvement of air quality in the Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona, said: “We are suffering from a public health crisis caused by poor air quality and noise”.

“It is absurd to consider a Formula 1 exhibition in the urban centre where thousands of people live, many of them particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution”.

The future of Formula One racing in Catalunya was thrown into doubt after Stefano Domenicalli, the sport’s CEO, announced a new Madrid Grand Prix which will take place from 2026.

The new circuit will incorporate both street and non-street sections around the IFEMA Exhibition Centre located in the north of Spain’s capital, just five minutes from Madrid-Bajaras Adolfo Suarez Airport.

The President of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Ayuso, claims the new Grand Prix will provide a €450 million annual boost to Madrid’s economy as fans flock to the capital to watch the likes of Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso in action.

The layout for the new Madrid Grand Prix, set to take place every year in the Spanish capital from 2026.

The contract for the current Spanish Grand Prix, hosted in Montmelo, Catalunya, is set to expire in 2026 – the same year that the Madrid Grand Prix’s contract starts.

However, F1 officials have assured racing fans that negotiations are continuing to keep the pinnacle of motor racing in Spain’s northeastern corner. 

Formula One first took place in Catalunya in the 1960s with a tight street circuit navigating the Montjuic mountain – however, the location of the race was moved after the 1975 edition was stained with tragedy following the death of four spectators after Rolf Stommelen crashed. 

The Spanish Grand Prix has been held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya since 1991.

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Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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