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Ministers scramble to save Barcelona F1 circuit from the grave

Barcelona-FP3-Start-2023

The future of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as a Formula 1 track is all but over, while notable figures in Spain fight to keep the iconic venue on the calendar beyond 2026.

This news comes after F1’s announcement on Tuesday, revealing that from 2026 onwards the Spanish Grand Prix will take place on the streets of the country’s Capital city, Madrid.

Questions were immediately raised surrounding the future of the current Spanish GP racetrack, the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Would F1 stop competing there after over three decades of consecutive races at the location?

With just over three years remaining until the switch, government personnel all over the European country are scrambling to save the circuit and keep it on the calendar of the biggest open-wheel motorsport competition in the world.

The Barcelona City Council has provided three million Euros of funding annually for quite some time for the track, though this value has halved in recent years. The layout of the circuit has undergone a couple of major changes in the last few seasons, including an alteration to Turn 10 back in 2021 and a removal of the final sector chicane in time for the 2023 race.

Representatives of the Council are determined to keep the racetrack on the F1 calendar by increasing their funding. They released the following statement: “We maintain our commitment to the Circuit de Catalunya and have made clear our political, institutional and economic support throughout the negotiations, even expressing our willingness to increase the current financial contribution to guarantee the competitiveness of the Montmelo facilities.”

The Generalitat de Catalonia, which governs the autonomous community of Catalonia, also chimed in with its willingness to have F1 race within its borders beyond 2026. They added that the government “maintains an excellent relationship with F1” and stressed that “there is a lot of time ahead” before any decisions need to be made.

Will Madrid replace (or accompany) Barcelona on the F1 calendar?

F1 Formula 1 Motogp Spanish Grand Prix Barcelona Aerial view photo

Can there be two Grand Prix in Spain, or will the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya eventually face the axe from F1? According to Formula One Group CEO Stefano Domenicali, there are no location-based barriers to the Catalonian circuit remaining on the sport’s calendar.

He said at the Madrid announcement: “We are working to look into the future and we will see We will keep you updated. Two circuits in Spain on the same calendar? Why not?”

Spain’s Sports Minister, Pilar Alegria, spoke to Domenicali about the possibility of the country hosting two F1 race events over the year. She stated: “[We are interested in] working towards the concurrence of two grands prix in our country.”

“That has already happened in previous years in Spain as well as other countries such as Italy, Germany and the United States.”

Finally, Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida was keen to point out that the Capital city is not trying to take F1 racing rights away from Barcelona, saying on Antena 3: “This is not a grand prix of Madrid against Catalonia or against Barcelona. What interests me is that Madrid has a grand prix, not that someone else stops having one.”

For the time being, F1 will remain in Spain where it has every year since 1991. But when the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s contract expires at the end of 2026, will F1 want to stay at a track which typically fails to provide exciting racing? Only time will tell…

Big Question: Is the #MadridGP replacing the #BarcelonaGP good or bad for F1?