The news this week that Madrid will replace Barcelona from 2026 as the venue of choice for the Spanish Grand Prix serves as a distinct indicator that the sport is increasingly inclined towards forging mid to long-term agreements with race promoters.
This shift poses a direct threat to events that have historically relied on short-term deals with F1, which leaves nine traditional circuits with uncertain prospects in Grand Prix racing’s future landscape.
On the one hand, the move to Madrid highlights Formula 1's desire to expand its global reach and attract new fans.
Spain’s capital city is a major tourist destination and offers a dynamic backdrop for Formula 1 racing.
A street race in Madrid will likely generate significant interest from fans and media alike, potentially boosting the sport’s global appeal.
On the other hand, the decision to replace Barcelona – a mainstay on the F1 calendar since 1991 – with Madrid raises concerns about the sport's commitment to its heritage and long-standing relationships with traditional circuits.
Alas, history and tradition now appear as very distant secondary concerns for the sport’s commercial rights holder, as F1 chief executive officer Stefano Domenicali clearly suggested on Tuesday as he praised Madrid’s long-term commitment to F1.
“I’m very pleased that it’s a deal that takes us to 2035 – it’s a long time,” the Italian said.
“This is the objective as F1, with either new or more established promoters. It allows everyone involved to plan the future and invest in the future as it is a guarantee for the promoter, for our partners, for our teams and for our sport. It gives everyone long-term visibility.”
For many of the sport’s fans, striking the right balance between tradition and innovation is paramount for keeping F1’s calendar exciting.
But a look hereunder at each venue’s current contract duration proves that as far as Liberty Media is concerned, commercial interests now clearly outweigh historical significance.
All short-term expirations – meaning either at the end of 2024 or 2025 – involve nine traditional circuits that have long been the epicenter of adrenaline-fueled battles and awe-inspiring spectacles: Silverstone, Suzuka, Monza, Monaco, Mexico, Shanghai, Imola, Spa and Zandvoort.
Some in the list above will survive the next round of negotiations, but likely at a heavy cost.
But for others, the deafening silence of exclusion will roll through their paddock.