After long-running rumors and speculation, a new Madrid F1 race has been confirmed for the 2026 championship season. Here’s what we know so far.
Alongside driver changes and new teams, the state of the calendar is a regular talking point in F1 circles. Does it visit the right circuits? Are there too many events in the year? Well, this announcement of a new F1 race in Madrid is likely to irritate people who answer ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to those questions, respectively. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has announced that the new Spanish race will take place on a completely fresh street circuit in the capital, and there’s no indication that it’ll come at the demise of another event on the schedule.
First look at the circuit
Before we dive into the fine details of this announcement, let’s first take a look at the proposed circuit layout itself. The race is set to take place around the grounds of the IFEMA Madrid exhibition center, in a course that will feature both street sections and non-street elements. I suppose there are parallels to be drawn with the FIA Formula E race in London at the ExCel arena, though admittedly this new Madrid F1 race won’t be passing through any of the indoor halls like FE does. Perhaps the stadium-circling Miami Grand Prix bears a closer likeness.
Anyway, the track is five and a half kilometers in length, featuring 20 turns which F1 expects to take 1:32minutes to complete during qualifying. Arguably the most defining feature of the circuit layout is its inclusion of two tunnels, though F1’s Head of Vehicle Performance, Craig Wilson, was also keen to highlight the steep downhill section between turns 7-9, and the possibility of turn 10 being banked.
For context as to *where* exactly the circuit will be located, the exhibition center is 16 kilometers away from central Madrid in the Barajas district, but “within five minutes” of the Adolfo Suarez airport. As such, it should be highly accessible to both domestic and international fans. As well as the IFEMA plot, other locations that the track is set to pass by include Real Madrid’s Sport City training ground.
What does this mean for Barcelona?
The new Madrid F1 race will take over the Spanish Grand Prix title, and given that its organizers have a signed a deal spanning the 2026-2035 seasons, some have assumed that this event will take the place of the current Spanish Grand Prix venue. However, Domenicali won’t rule out the possibility of retaining the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the calendar alongside Madrid.
In fact, he says, “For the avoidance of doubt and to clarify here, the fact we are in Madrid is not excluding the fact we could stay in Barcelona for the future.
“Looking ahead, there are discussions in place to see if we can really extend our collaboration with Barcelona, with whom we have a very good relationship, for the future.”
So, what do you think? Is this the right move for F1, or are they barking up the wrong tree?