Amid speculation that Formula 1 could move the Spanish Grand Prix to a street circuit in Madrid, Lewis Hamilton declares his fondness for the ‘classic’ track of Barcelona.
With the proliferation of street circuits in recent years – including Jeddah, Miami, Baku and Las Vegas – Lewis Hamilton fears F1 is jeopardizing the future of too many “traditional” circuits.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has been part of the racing calendar since 1991. This year the final chicane was removed in favor of the high-speed Turns 13 and 14 (New Holland). This change was made to make overtaking easier. This configuration was last used in 2006.
However, a road race in the Spanish capital Madrid is planned for the 2026 season. F1 boss Stefano Domenicali held talks with the lenders earlier in the year.
Hamilton is open to racing in Madrid as long as the track is better than the unpopular Valencia street circuit used between 2008 and 2012.
He says: “As long as it’s not like Valencia, which wasn’t the most comfortable track to drive. I don’t want to give up Barcelona. I love this city. It’s also important that we keep some of the classic circuits – at least the ones that offer great races.”
“Budapest is spectacular. Silverstone is spectacular. This track [in Barcelona] is it. There are a lot of really great traditional circuits that we should keep. Maybe we should replace some that don’t offer the best racing. I think we should preserve the legacy that is the foundation of this sport.”
Is Formula 1 stuck in old ways of thinking?
Alexander Albon shares Hamilton’s concerns: “Most of the new tracks that we visit are close to a city. The track is planned around the city. That’s great for the fans, great for the infrastructure with all the hotels and so on .”
“But at least in my experience, the circuits usually offer the best races: more space, you can go much faster, wider corners. We hardly have any buildings and 90-degree corners. And that’s exactly what we need. We have to drive different lines can, different speeds.”
The trend towards street courses is not only due to the greater attractiveness for the local audience, who do not have to put up with long journeys to nowhere. It is also a consequence of the long-standing “dirty air” problem in Formula 1. For a long time, fast corners are overtaking killers, slow corners with a long straight line favor overtaking maneuvers.
But that has been history since the 2022 regulations revolution, as the Thai explains: “In slow corners it is difficult to keep up with these cars – even more difficult than at high speeds. This is simply because the ‘ground effect’ works better at high speeds.” Rule of thumb: In fast corners, the downforce is generated at the bottom, in slow corners at the top. And the underbody is less susceptible to air turbulence.
Albon therefore appeals: “I think it’s important for the show that we stick to natural courses. I’d like to drive on a real American racetrack instead of in Vegas.”
Sainz offers help – no matter where
Should it come to a race in Madrid, it would rather take the place of the Barcelona race than the two events coexisting. For Carlos Sainz, the main thing is that his country retains a place on the Formula 1 calendar, regardless of the venue.
All I can say is that I will do my best to ensure that there continues to be a Spanish Grand Prix wherever it is held. I think Barcelona are doing a great job. I’ve loved coming here for years.”
“Obviously I need to get a little more into the details of what’s happening in Madrid and what they’re planning there… I’ll just offer whatever help they need – with track design or whatever.”
His compatriot Fernando Alonso adds: “I like to drive in Barcelona, I like to drive in Madrid if I’m still here in 2026. If I’m not here, I watch TV, that doesn’t change much. Ultimately, it’s the decision the region whether they want to host the race or not.”
“There was a back and forth in Barcelona: sometimes they are for it, sometimes they don’t want the race. If they don’t want the race, it’s not a problem because another region will want it.”