Why is Formula 1 targeting a Grand Prix in Madrid?

Madrid is set to take over from Barcelona in hosting the Spanish Grand Prix from 2026


With Formula 1’s recent decision to confirm plans to stage the Madrid Grand Prix in the Spanish capital, it should come as no surprise that Madrid is fast becoming one of the Europe’s biggest sport hubs.

It was announced on Tuesday that the 5.4-mile street race will flow throughout the city, passing landmark sites like Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training complex and centre around the IFEMA conference centre.

With a 10-year contract agreed and the race expected to bring in an estimated £3.5billion of revenue from 2026 onwards, Madrid is primed to take the lead as the world’s capital of sport.

On the city’s official tourism website, it claims that “Madrid hosts scores of top-tier sports events”. Clearly, this is seen a point of pride for a country where sport reigns supreme, and if it means replacing Barcelona as Spain’s main host of motorsport, it will only make it feel sweeter.

In many ways, F1 was the final piece of the sporting puzzle that eluded them. Madrid is already home to one of the biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid, hosts the ATP 1000 Madrid Masters event and is expanding its profile in the world of padel too.

But as one of the fastest growing sports in the world, F1 could not be ignored as a huge attraction – owing much of rise to the Netflix hit series Drive to Survive.

Madrid edging closer to ultimate ambition

It is not just F1 where Madrid is making moves, either. NBA vice commissioner, Mark Tatum, confirmed that the league is looking upon Real Madrid’s redeveloped home with positivity ahead of bringing an NBA game to Spain after a £500million revamp.

Real Madrid chiefs even showed Tatum what the new stadium is like, with its advantages, and the possibility to host games there in the future is a real possibility. The popularity of NBA in Spain means it will be considered for a mini series at some stage during the season, similar to how NFL has staged matches in London and Germany.

And it goes some way to showing Madrid is now regarded as a major player in the world of sport venues, with its smooth-running metro system and transport links to other mainland cities in Spain.

On the subject of football, LaLiga recently unveiled its new ‘LEGENDS The Home of Football exhibition’, displaying over 600 iconic pieces of football memorabilia in the heart of the capital, the Puerta de Sol.

The state-of-the-art display features innovative technology including a Metaverse Game Area, a football store, a 4D Cinema, robotic games with augmented reality and a room called Football Art, where visitors are able to enjoy digital technology and incredible AI projections.

With F1 now on its way in two years’ time, pending official ratification from the FIA, tourists and sports fans will soon be clamouring for tickets to pour into the city for elite sport’s best offerings.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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