JANUARY 24, 2024

Barcelona willing to spend more to save F1 race

Barcelona's city council is open to spending more money if it rescues the embattled Spanish GP.

Valtteri Bottas, Spanish GP 2023
© Alfa Romeo

As was predicted, F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali on Tuesday was in the Spanish capital to announce a ten-year deal for an annual Formula 1 race in the city of Madrid.

The deal starts in 2026 - the year after the contract with Spain's existing grand prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona expires.

But Domenicali is not ruling out a new deal for Barcelona.

First of all, Oriol Sagrera is an incredible person, he said, referring to the new boss of the Barcelona track - F1's Spanish home since 1991.

We are working to look into the future and we will see, Domenicali added. "We will keep you updated. Two circuits in Spain on the same calendar?

Why not? the Italian said.

The new Madrid race, however, is completely privately funded - while Barcelona relies on a certain amount of institutional and government funding.

So as the Madrid news broke, the Barcelona city council reacted by insisting it will make extra efforts to keep a second Spanish race on the calendar.

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 council said.

Barcelona was contributing EUR 3 million euros per year in 2017, but in recent years that funding has halved.

The Generalitat de Catalonia - the regional government - revealed on Tuesday that it maintains an excellent relationship with F1, while the Catalan department of business said there is a lot of time ahead before 2026.

And Spain's sports minister, Pilar Alegria, met with Domenicali after Tuesday's announcement and conveyed the government's interest in working towards the concurrence of two grands prix in our country.

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

As for the Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, he said on Tuesday: "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, he told Antena 3.

F1 CEO Domenicali agrees: "I remember the first meeting with (Ifema Madrid president) Jose Vicente and he said Madrid wanted to propose a contract complementary to what F1 does in Barcelona.

The fact that we are in Madrid does not exclude that we can stay in Barcelona for the future.