On Tuesday morning came the long-awaited announcement that Formula 1 will free up a spot on the calendar for Madrid from 2026. The news that another street race will be added did not meet with much enthusiasm among many Formula 1 fans, but Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz does expect a spectacular configuration of the circuit.
The Spanish Grand Prix has been taking place on the circuit in Barcelona for over thirty years, which does not always provide the most exciting races, but is a permanent fixture on the calendar. The event will move to Madrid in 2026. ‘There is a lot of rivalry between the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona, not only in the football world. Barcelona has been organizing the Grand Prix since 1991, and the circuit was also widely used as a test track. So now we are going to Madrid from 2026.’
‘The Formula 1 bosses had been consulting with the organization in Madrid for quite some time, so we knew this was coming. The plan is to build the circuit around the F1 Exhibition Centre. There will be a number of tunnels, and possibly a bend with banking,” says Kravitz. Zandvoort is currently known for its use of corners with banking, which has proven to be a success in Dutch races.
Does Barcelona still have a chance?
“It looks like it will be an ambitious plan for Formula 1 and for Spain, even though Spain has two top drivers in Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz, to have two Grands Prix on an increasingly busy calendar,” said Sky Sports F1 news reporter. Kravitz discusses the possibility that Barcelona will also remain on the calendar, something that is not yet certain. Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has already indicated that this is a possibility. The circuit, where Verstappen took his first Grand Prix victory, now has a contract until 2025.
Kravitz realizes that Barcelona’s negotiating position has further deteriorated due to the deal between Formula 1 and Madrid. ‘I expect Barcelona to drop off the calendar unless they come with a big bag of money. It would not be surprising if they are still on the calendar in 2026, in the first year that Madrid is on the calendar. Madrid is exciting, but Barcelona is part of the furniture in Formula 1. However, I find it difficult to imagine that there will be room for both circuits on the calendar after 2026.’
In recent years, more and more street circuits have been added to the Formula 1 calendar, with Las Vegas being the latest addition so far. ‘Formula 1 wants to advertise it in combination with a city trip. The fans can go to Madrid, enjoy the city, and maybe watch a football match, then take the metro or bus to the new Grand Prix. This does not surprise me, because this is the direction that Formula 1 has chosen, even with the long commitment,” says Kravitz about the event’s ten-year deal.
Mercedes optimistic for 2024
Kravitz also discussed the upcoming season, in which teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, and Aston Martin will want to close the gap on Red Bull Racing. “Toto Wolff has extended his contract with Mercedes, and has said that they see promising things at Mercedes, so Lewis Hamilton and George Russell can expect a car that does justice to their talent,” says Kravitz. ‘That is the only serious rumor we have heard from Red Bull Racing’s challengers. Wolff says the sounds from the design department and from the wind tunnel are promising, and they feel like they will have a real race car again. Reason enough for George and Lewis to be optimistic.’