Formula 1 in Madrid. And Barcelona?
Today marked the long-awaited union between Formula 1 and Madrid. From 2026, the Spanish capital will re-enter the series after more than 40 years of absence (the last Grand Prix dates back to 1981 at Jarama) and will replace Barcelona as the venue for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The signs at this morning’s press conference at the Madrid exhibition center (Ifema) left little room for interpretation: next to the words “Formula 1 Gran Premio de España,” there were the dates 2026 and 2035, the beginning and end of the ten-year period with which the Circus has tied itself to the Spanish capital. And now the future of Barcelona in F1 raises a series of question marks not clarified by F1 President Stefano Domenicali.
The 2026 dilemma
The first question concerns the name of the two Grand Prix on the calendar for 2026. For that year, Barcelona also has a contract with Formula 1 to host the Spanish Grand Prix. At least, that’s what the Circus communicated in 2021.
Since there can be multiple races in the same country in the same calendar, but only one can host the “national” GP, it is clear that Madrid and Barcelona both have the requirements to host F1 in 2026, but one will have to yield the title of the Spanish Grand Prix to the other. From 2027, this problem will no longer arise, as Madrid will be the sole Spanish GP. However, another issue will arise: will Montmelo still be in Formula 1? At the moment, it seems highly unlikely because organizing a GP like Barcelona’s costs approximately $25 million and involves a significant expenditure for local institutions, an expense that Catalonia has increasingly hesitated to bear in recent years.
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Stefano Domenicali explains
In today’s press conference, Stefano Domenicali did not close the doors to Barcelona for the future, aiming to have two races in Spain, as is happening for Italy (and will happen at least until 2025). It all depends on Barcelona’s capacity and, at this point, the willingness to remain on the Circus calendar after nearly four decades of Formula 1: in 2026, the Catalan city will host the 36th consecutive GP. Perhaps the last.