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Formula 1 unveils details of new Madrid track

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell on the podium at the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix
Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix in recent years - AP/Joan Monfort

Formula One has confirmed that the Spanish Grand Prix will be held in Madrid from 2026 until 2035, leaving the future of Barcelona hanging in the balance.

The race in Madrid, which will be held out near Barajas airport to the north-east of the city and will incorporate both street and non-street sections, has long been trailed.

What was not entirely clear, and still remains in some doubt, is whether it will be a straight swap for Barcelona or whether there might be two races in Spain in the future.

It is understood Formula One remains in active discussions with the Circuit de Catalunya, although there would have to be a compelling case for it to be given a slot given the number of races now on the calendar (a record 24 this season) and others vying to get on.

Barcelona is a known commodity for teams and drivers due to its use as a testing facility. But its facilities are now dated and the circuit is not the easiest to reach for spectators, with traffic jams a perennial source of frustration.

The new circuit in Madrid, by contrast, promises to be one of the most accessible races on the F1 calendar, just five minutes from an international airport and built around the IFEMA exhibition centre.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Formula One predicted that 90 per cent of fans would be able to travel to the paddock via public transport, while fans staying in local accommodation would be a short walk away.

Formula One added that the circuit would be 5.47km in length, subject to FIA homologation and final design specification, and would feature 20 corners, with a projected qualifying lap of 1min 32sec.

The venue is projected to have capacity to host more than 110,000 fans per day across grandstand, general admission, and VIP hospitality. “There are also plans to grow the circuit’s capacity to 140,000 per day over the first half of the agreement, making Madrid one of the largest venues on the F1 calendar,” the statement noted.

Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive of Formula One, said: “Madrid is an incredible city with amazing sporting and cultural heritage, and today’s announcement begins an exciting new chapter for F1 in Spain. I would like to thank the team at IFEMA Madrid, the regional government of Madrid and the city’s mayor for putting together a fantastic proposal. It truly epitomises Formula One’s vision to create a multi-day spectacle of sport and entertainment that delivers maximum value for fans and embraces innovation and sustainability.”

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the region of Madrid, added that the event would represent an increase of “more than 450 million euros in Madrid’s GDP per year and the creation of 8,200 jobs”.

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