Formula 1 chiefs have officially announced the arrival of the Madrid Grand Prix into the sport from the 2026 season onwards, but there are a number of issues that need to be resolved first to guarantee its place on the calendar.
Plans for the race have been unveiled for an urban race that takes place in the vicinity of the IFEMA building, which hosts community events and fairs, with Carlos Sainz among those to praise the decision to host it. The race will be financed with private capital, which is a key aspect as most races are funded by national government or tourism boards.
With this in mind, it gives a slightly more precarious feel to the project – given that the Grand Prix would surely be left in doubt if that funding was suddenly withdrawn.
There are still questions to be answered about the future of the current host of the Spanish GP, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and how it fits in with the future calendar after Madrid re-enters the world of F1.
And that is not the only potential obstacle in the way of bringing the Madrid GP to life. As organisers for the Las Vegas GP recently found, there are unique circumstances to hold a race within a city that need to be addressed before the race can go ahead.
Madrid GP has a long way to go
The first being that designing and building the urban track in the middle of Madrid is no easy feat, and the necessary preparations for building a grandstand, pit lane and other essential F1 areas will take some time to complete.
There is also certain criteria that has to be met to gain approval from the organisations in charge. These are the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation and the FIA, who must give their approval first and until they do, the Madrid GP cannot take place.
In addition, Madrid wants to enter the calendar in 2026 and this must also be ratified by the FIA. To host an F1 race, the FIA together with the World Council must approve its entry and this is not expected to happen until October 2025 at the earliest, meaning those behind organising the Madrid GP must now wait 21 months until a final decision is made.
And despite the presence of F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali at the presentation of the Grand Prix, there has been no representation or mention of the FIA or the Spanish Automobile Federation, two key entities in making the race a reality. In addition, officials and stewards need to be trained to ensure they are compliant with the FIA regulations.
It goes some way to underlining why there is as much reason to be cautious as there is for celebration after the historic announcement, although there is little doubt that Madrid will work to resolve the outstanding issues it faces.