Come 2026, the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix will be hosted in the Spanish capital of Madrid, at a new hybrid race track made up of street and non-street sections. The future of the current host, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where the Spanish Grand Prix has been held since 1991, is currently unknown.
The hybrid venue—which is still pending FIA approval—will measure 3.39 miles and feature 20 corners. Judging by the provisional map provided by F1, it's a considerable improvement over recent street circuits. That said, the 2D layout doesn't give us an idea of the width, elevation changes, or other factors that affect on-track action. F1 estimates a qualifying lap time of 1:32 minutes.
The new venue is said to have a 10-year contract, with race promoters promising to take advantage of the expansive IFEMA exhibition center grounds to make the Madrid GP one of the largest venues on the calendar, hosting up to 140,000 fans per day during a race weekend. In comparison, the Barcelona-Catalunya venue reportedly attracted 200,000 fans across four days.
Crowd, vehicle, and public transportation management at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit were often described as some of the worst on the calendar, and Madrid reportedly aims to fix that. F1 claims the new venue is just five minutes from the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez airport, making it one of the most accessible in the season. Also, F1 estimates that 90% of attendees will be able to travel to the event via public transport whether it be on subway, train, or bus lines.
IFEMA claims to already run on 100% certified renewable energy, something which it expects to continue doing while hosting F1. Furthermore, all temporary structures erected for grand prix weekends will be constructed using recyclable materials.
No mention of the future of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was made during Tuesday's announcement, though it's no secret that its place on the calendar has been uncertain for some time now. It will likely be a challenge to keep its spot moving forward, but having two races in Spain isn't completely out of the question. After all, this has already happened in the past, most recently from 2008 to 2012 when F1 visited Barcelona-Catalunya and the Valencia street circuit.
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