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F1

Madrid put forward ambitious proposal to stage F1 Grand Prix

Madrid’s regional government has submitted a proposal to “develop a Formula 1 Grand Prix” in the Spanish capital.

Update:
MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 18: A 100% electric Formula Car during the Software AG ERA Championship, prior to the first edition of the World Electric Touring Car Championship-FIA ETCR World Cup, at the Madrid Jarama-RACE circuit, on 18 June, 2022 in San Sebastian de los Reyes, Madrid, Spain. The event, promoted by the International Automobile Federation, has the participation of 22 drivers of more than 10 nationalities, including two Spaniards. The celebration of the first world championship of 100% electric cars makes the Community of Madrid an international benchmark for sustainable mobility in motorsport competition. In addition, the event has an innovative racing system based on sprint rounds and starts with three vehicles in parallel. (Photo By A. Perez Meca/Europa Press via Getty Images)
Europa Press NewsGetty

Could Formula 1 return to the Spanish capital? That is what the autonomous community of Madrid have in mind. The last time Madrid staged the Spanish Grand Prix was back in 1981 at the Jarama circuit but plans are underway to bring it back. Madrid has hosted numerous major sporting events in recent years to great success. This new project put forward by Madrid regional government minister Enrique López is the most ambitious yet - some might argue, perhaps a little overambitious.

The Autonomous Community of Madrid have presented a proposal to Formula 1, outlining their desire to stage a Grand Prix in the capital in the next few years. While it remains very much a long-term project, local authorities insist that the infrastructure is in place and that the city is prepared to hold an event of such magnitude. The idea has been expressed in a letter to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali which El Confidencial has gained access to.

“It is my pleasure to write you on behalf of the Government of the Community of Madrid to express our interest in the development of a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Madrid,” began the letter, which is signed by Enrique López, a cabinet minister in Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s regional government. The letter highlights the “outstanding economic and social developments” which the region has experienced in recent years through “increasingly prestigious and appreciated sports events” which have attracted large numbers of tourists.

One example was the recent Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, which has gone from strength to strength over the past 20 years. Among the city’s attributes, López pointed to Madrid’s “extensive and efficient transport network, a pleasant climate, first class cultural, gastronomic and natural tourist attractions and a wide and excellent hotel infrastructure” along with a “diverse commercial offer with a unique freedom of opening hours”.

In spite of all the city has to offer, the chance of a Madrid Grand Prix becoming a reality is still a long way off - in the short term and the long term. Diario AS contacted sources at Liberty Media, who declined to comment on the contents of the Community of Madrid’s letter to Domenicali.

The situation is quite clear - there are a maximum of 24 Grand Prix per year and any country which wants to host one must submit their bid to the FIA and join a waiting list. Right now, the organisers’ are keen to expand into new territories but their priorities lie beyond Europe. Las Vegas joined the F1 calendar and will stage a race for the first time in 40 years in November 2023 - one of three races in the United States after Miami and Austin. The US is a growing market for F1 and there is a real possibility of a fourth race being designated - in New York.

Multi-million euro investment needed

Even without having to compete with the United States, Madrid still has a long list of other candidates ahead of them on the waiting list. Among them, South Africa, who could return to the calendar next year - Domenicali’s recent visit to the country suggests it could. And even the legendary circuits in Monaco, Belgium and France are not guaranteed a place next season. There has even been talk of a rotation system so that everyone eventually gets their turn.

Barcelona, which has hosted the Spanish Grand Prix since 1991, will continue to do so for the next four years until 2026. At the moment, Madrid does not have a circuit which is up to Formula 1 standards. The old Jarama circuit, located 30 kilometres north of central Madrid in San Sebastián de los Reyes falls well short of competition protocols, and while there has been talk of a new circuit being constructed to the south in Morata de Tajuña, the project is still at the blueprint stage and would require a massive investment. On top of that is the F1 entry fee - 30 million euros. For all of those reasons, it’s unlikely that F1 will be returning to Madrid any time soon.

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