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How twin tunnels and banked corners will make Madrid F1 track distinctive

Twin tunnels and a banked corner are set to make the new Madrid circuit at the IFEMA convention centre a distinctive addition to the Formula 1 calendar from 2026 onwards.

IFEMA Madrid

Photo by: Formula 1

The track will be a mixture of street circuit roads through the exhibition building area and a smaller section of permanent track that will be built on adjacent land that has yet to be developed.

The two parts are split by an elevated highway and will be connected by a pair of tunnels that pass underneath it.

F1 compares the hybrid nature of the new venue to Miami, which also features a combination of existing roads and purpose-built sections.

One of the key players behind the layout is F1’s head of vehicle performance Craig Wilson, who has played a role in track design since the start of the Liberty Media era, having been hired by Ross Brawn in 2017.

The former Mercedes and Williams engineer uses simulations and data as part of an ongoing effort to create tracks where good racing is possible.

“From the very first suggestion to where we’ve ended up, there’s been about 24 track models,” Wilson told the F1 website.

“But then there’s been numerous sub-model investigations and different details as well. We’ve now got a concept that we’re happy to proceed development with, and we’re very excited to see it take shape.”

The new Madrid Formula One track layout

Photo by: Formula 1

The new Madrid Formula One track layout

Expanding on the nature of the Madrid venue: “It’s in between what you’d consider a normal street track layout and more towards a permanent circuit style layout.

“A lot of the places will have a temporary circuit-type installation, but then there are other sections which may look or feel a bit different depending on the final implementation decisions to suit the IFEMA site.”

Wilson stressed that there’s still a lot of work to do before a detailed design is signed off.

“The next steps are that it now needs to go from concept into detailed design development,” he said.

“And importantly through the FIA submission and homologation process, and all the safety assessments, to achieve a Grade 1 track licence.

“As you start construction, it needs to go through all the inspections, while we have to work with the developers on all the planning, infrastructure, how the garages are going to be arranged, how the paddock layout specifics are going to be and all of our systems integration, so it’s the start of the journey.”

Intriguingly Wilson says that there is “scope” for the looping Turn 10 righthander to be banked in a similar way to Zandvoort’s final turn. The hope is to create an overtaking opportunity.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

He noted that discussions are continuing regarding “how banked we make it, what kind of banking and what kind of profile we go for, with a mind to how can we turn Turn 11 and Turn 12 into a potential overtaking action area.”

Wilson highlighted two other areas of the track as potentially becoming landmarks.

The section of existing roads from Turns 7 to 9 initially rises after the first tunnel before going “quite steeply downhill.”

The sequence through Turns 13 to 17 that runs through the second tunnel and back into the main exhibition area is taken at high speed, with Wilson noting it as “ambitious.”

Summing up the design he added: “I think it will be a good challenge for the drivers.”

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