F1's new Madrid circuit: grand prix racing returns to Spanish capital


F1 has announced the Spanish GP will move to a new street circuit at Madrid for 2026 – the championship's CEO Stefano Domenicali says it's a sign of the times

F1 circuit map Madrid 2026

New Madrid circuit will run round the IFEMA business district


Formula 1 has finally announced its long-rumoured Madrid street race, with the Spanish Grand Prix moving to the country’s capital from 2026.

The F1 calendar has evolved in recent years to accommodate four races in the Middle East and three in the US, but the new development is a shift which F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says shows European countries “are ready to invest in our sport.”

The last time Madrid held an F1 race was at Jarama in 1981. The event moved from Jerez to Catalunya in 1991, where it has run continuously since then.

The new 20-turn, 5.5km (3.3-mile) hybrid street/permanent circuit will be located around Madrid’s IFEMA exhibition centre. With an initial capacity of 110,000 spectators, F1 claims that 90% of attending fans will be able to reach the track, located 16km from the city centre, via public transport.

In keeping with F1’s other recent race deals, the long-term contract will run to 2035.


2026 Madrid F1 circuit layout

F1 Stefano Domenicali Madrid 2026

Domenicali says latest race is a sign of hunger for F1 investment in Europe

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Similar to the Miami GP, which essentially runs round the car park and service roads of the Miami Dolphins’ NFL stadium, the new Spanish circuit will run through the concrete-heavy IFEMA business district – not making the layout not the most edifying on first glance.

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However, F1 has done its best to talk up a circuit designed by Dromo, which oversaw the redevelopment of Zandvoort as well repaving Silverstone.

“It’s in between what you’d consider a normal street track layout and more towards a permanent circuit style layout,” said Craig Wilson, F1’s Head of Vehicle Performance.

“A lot of the places will have a temporary circuit-type installation, but then there’s other sections which may look or feel a bit different depending on the final implementation decisions to suit the IFEMA site.”

Wilson told the F1 website one of the most distinctive features of the track will be a sharp downhill drop between Turns 7 and 9 – will we see some Long Beach-esque moments reminiscent of the world championship’s yesteryear?

Wilson also says Turn 10 has scope “to be banked” – Dromo implemented similar circuit design technique for two turns at Zandvoort, something its CEO Jarno Zaffelli described as needing being “about big b******s” to take on.

F1 Jarno Zaffelli Madrid 2026

Jarno Zafelli’s Dromo will oversee the circuit’s design

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Will F1 keep racing at Barcelona?

Despite the fact that until ‘the rise of Fernando Alonso‘ Spain had very little in the way of F1 culture – albeit still having a fervent interest in motorcycle racing – it has hosted two F1 races on a number of occasions.

In 1997, as well as the Spanish GP at Circuit de Catalunya, the F1 season rounded off with the now-infamous European GP at Jerez in which Michael Schumacher attempted to take out Jacques Villeneuve in their title-decider.

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From 2008 to 2012 Valencia hosted the European GP street race in its dockland area. In its final event, Fernando Alonso came through from 11th on the grid to take a famous win in front of a delighted crowd, while Michael Schumacher scored his final career podium.

Could Spain hold two races again?

Though the event will take the moniker of the country’s grand prix, Domenicali hasn’t ruled out there still being a race in Barcelona too.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Though Madrid’s previous F1 venue Jarama tends to get few grand prix fans misty-eyed, it did provide an all-time classic at its final race in 1981.

Driving the poor Ferrari 126CK, Gilles Villeneuve held off a rabid chasing pack of Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis to win by 0.2sec, regarded by many as his greatest victory.

F1 launch Madrid 2026

Inaugural ‘track walk’ outside IFEMA exhibition centre