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Formula 1 British GP

Madrid F1 race a step closer as venue boss claims deal is close

A Formula 1 race in Madrid is a step closer to reality after the boss of the proposed venue insisted that he knows when a deal will be signed.

Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari; Jacques Laffite, Ligier; John Watson, McLaren; Carlos Reutemann, Williams

The claim was made on Thursday by José Vicente de los Mozos, the president of the executive committee of the IFEMA fairgrounds and convention centre located to the northeast of the Spanish capital.

Opened in 1991, IFEMA has become a major centre for conferences and conventions, and there is enough land in and around it to form the basis of a race circuit, with the existing buildings called into use.

It is operated by a consortium of public bodies, consisting of the city council of Madrid (31%), the regional administration of the community of Madrid (31%), the Madrid Chamber of Commerce (31%) and the Montemadrid Foundation (7%).

Since March it has been the host of the officially-sanctioned and well-received F1 Exhibition, which in effect has served to help the city to stake its claim for a race event.

“I know when we're going to sign it and when we're going to do it," said de los Mozos of a future race deal in comments reported by Europa Press.

He added: “We have followed the process indicated to us. The Spanish Automobile Federation has been informed from the first moment, we have signed exclusivity, and now we are advancing with the contract.”

He noted that the event would generate €500m for the region and that it would be “not a race, but an experience - the best in Europe.”

Madrid F1 exhibition

Madrid F1 exhibition

Photo by: Juanjo Sáez

Barcelona has a deal to run the Spanish GP until 2026, and it’s not yet clear if the plan is for the new event to eventually take over the title, or if it will run as the Madrid GP.

Speaking to F1’s own Beyond the Grid podcast recently, CEO Stefano Domenicali played down the prospects of a race in Madrid while acknowledging the sport's current boom in Spain.

“It is true that Madrid wants to host a race in the future,” he said. “And no decision has been taken so far. That's another great sign of the state of the health of F1. 

"And this is the right competition that will not involve at all any political discussion, only commercial and technical and sporting discussion we'll be taking the next couple of months.

“And for the best of F1 we will take the right decision. I'm sure about it. But we need to remember that we still have years of contract with Barcelona, and we are really very, very happy with the way that Barcelona is handling the future because, of course, this has helped them to react, to push for the improvement that is needed at all levels, everywhere.

“And then this, of course, is in a moment where we have Fernando [Alonso] performing incredibly well, and we have Carlos Sainz in Ferrari. Both of them have a lot of fans. 

"We see that the TV rating figure is growing incredibly well in Spain. So the market is very, very strong now. And so that's great that we have these kinds of hopes for the future.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Michael Schumacher, Mercedes AMG F1 and Andrea Stella, Ferrari Race Engineer celebrates on the podium

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Michael Schumacher, Mercedes AMG F1 and Andrea Stella, Ferrari Race Engineer celebrates on the podium

Photo by: Sutton Images

While Spain briefly sustained two events in Barcelona and Valencia, Domenicali insisted that times have changed and that it is unlikely that it would happen again.

“In that time the business was not so big,” he said. “And [we still had] a European-centric calendar. Today we have a worldwide calendar approach, with bigger and more races, for sure.

“But I think that in Europe even in the future I'm expecting to see races where the rotational principle could be applied, but not two in the same year.”

The Madrid area previously hosted F1 when the Spanish GP was held at Jarama, to the east of the city and not much further away from the centre than the new venue.

The track first held the race in 1968, initially alternating with Montjuich Park in Barcelona, which co-incidentally like the proposed new venue was a street track adjacent to an exhibition facility.

Montjuich was closed after the tragic 1975 race and Jarama briefly became the permanent site of the Spanish GP until it held its last F1 event in 1981. The race was later revived at Jerez in 1986 before moving to its current home in 1991.

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