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Domenicali: Madrid F1 deal doesn't mean Barcelona track has no future

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says Barcelona may still have a future place on the calendar, despite the announcement that the Spanish Grand Prix will move to Madrid in 2026.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, the rest of the field at the start

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has been the race’s home since 1991, but it became increasingly apparent during 2023 that Madrid looked set to take over hosting of the Spanish GP.

However, Barcelona could yet secure a place for a second race in Spain. The country has supported two events in the past, when the European GP was run at Jerez in 1994 and 1997, and then in Valencia between 2008 and 2012.

The challenge is that slots on future calendars are at a premium as more venues sign long-term deals.

“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 told the F1 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.”

Domenicali stressed that there continues to be healthy interest in F1 in Spain, which currently has two drivers on the grid in double world champion Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz.

“Spain was a market that just a couple of years ago, was not in the centre of our eyes,” he said.

“Now it is very important. We signed a new deal with Spanish broadcaster DAZN until at least the end of 2026.

“It’s a nice problem to have, to have multiple cities – some in the same country – wanting to host a grand prix.

“It shows the value of our proposition. But we need to keep focused on the reason for our success, and make sure we aren’t complacent.”

The Italian stressed that the push for a race in Madrid reflected the overall health of the series, with many potential host cities showing interest in joining an increasingly busy schedule.

He also acknowledged that a high-profile new venue in Europe bucked the trend that has seen the series expand in the USA and the Middle East.

Madrid track layout

Madrid track layout

“It’s great news for F1 as it shows once again that there is strong appetite around the world for our sport,” he said.

“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.”

Domenicali also stressed the duration of the Madrid deal, with only Bahrain – whose agreement with F1 runs to 2036 – currently having a longer contract.

“I’m very pleased that it’s a deal that takes us to 2035 – it’s a long time,” he said. “This is the objective as F1, with either new or more established promoters.

“It allows everyone involved to plan the future and invest in the future as it is a guarantee for the promoter, for our partners, for our teams and for our sport. It gives everyone long-term visibility.

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“If you look at the past, the renewals were two years, three years or five years maximum. Now all our new deals are going in the direction of being very long. And if they are short, there is a reason.”

Regarding the new venue’s sustainability credentials he said: “F1 is fully committed to reaching Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

“And IFEMA MADRID shares our vision and ambition to make the Spanish GP in Madrid one of the most accessible and sustainable F1 events on the calendar.

“The new venue will have great connections with the city, by train, metro and bus. It’s located just 16kms from the city centre and it is the promoter’s objective to bring the vast majority of fans from the city to the track via public transport.”

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