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Vamos! F1 moves Spanish Grand Prix to Madrid from 2026

Hala Madrid! F1 will go racing in the Spanish capital; plans afoot for a banked corner

Published: 23 Jan 2024

This just in: the Spanish Grand Prix will move to a new home in Madrid in 2026, with plans in place for a 5.474km circuit featuring 20 corners, two tunnels and possibly even a banked turn.

Located 16km away from the city centre, the race will be based around the IFEMA Madrid exhibition centre and has the capacity to host 110,000 fans per day, rising to 140,000 within five of the race’s 10-year contract.

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“It’s great news for Formula 1 as it shows once again that there is strong appetite around the world for our sport,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali. “It shows that at a moment where Europe is perceived to be a place that is not ready to invest in our sport, Madrid and others are showing it is.

“They have presented a fascinating project, one that will be built in the next couple of years and a project that is considering the fans and their whole experience, from their travel to the whole event experience. The proposition we received from the promoter was great. Since the first day, it has been an open discussion of what this event can be.”

So what of Barcelona and Circuit de Catalunya? The track has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix every year since 1991, and many fans will question the, er, wisdom of dropping it in favour of a semi-street circuit split in two by… a motorway.

F1 insists that Barcelona could yet stay on the calendar, and the nation has plenty going for it with two race-winning drivers - Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz - on the grid. 

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“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 insists. “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.” Hmm…

Simulations estimate a lap time of one minute 32 seconds at the new Madrid F1 track, although the final layout (check it out below) will depend on how development progresses over the next couple of years.

The section between Turn 7 and Turn 9 is expected to be steep (Laguna Seca corkscrew steep?) and Turn 10 “has scope to be banked” like Zandvoort, according to F1’s head of vehicle performance, Craig Wilson.

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“How banked we make it, what kind of banking and what kind of profile we go for,” will be determined by “how can we turn Turn 11 and Turn 12 into a potential overtaking area,” he added.

Thoughts, folks? Everyone had their doubts about Vegas, and that was a cracker

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