Madrid GP caught up in FIA-Liberty conflict

Tue, 12 December 2023, 06:00

Dec.12 (GMM) As far as one top FIA official is concerned, a Madrid GP is not ready to be announced.

Rumours about a new urban race in the Spanish capital have been around for months, with Carmelo Sanz de Barros, also president of Spain’s automobile club Real Automovil Club de Espana, declaring in June that much of it was just “noise”.

“There’s a lot of noise but the circuit has not been approved and there is no firm proposal,” he said at the time.

And now, with some reports and officials suggesting that Formula 1 is poised to announce a Madrid GP for 2026, he says the matter still “has not yet reached the federation”.

Barros doubles as vice president of the FIA senate – one of the positions closest to FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who is known to be at odds with F1 and Liberty Media on a number of fronts.

Barros said at the FIA events in Baku this week that he likes the idea of a Madrid GP, but “to date” he reports that a circuit is yet to be approved or homologated.

“As a Spaniard, born in Madrid, I want F1 in Madrid again, it is clear,” he told AS newspaper.

He said it wouldn’t necessarily even be a problem if Spain has two races – one in Madrid, one at the existing Spanish GP venue in Barcelona.

“Is it possible to have two? Yes, why not?” said Barros. “We have three in the United States and two in Italy. Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.”

However, he says those who say a Madrid GP is effectively already a done deal are wide of the mark.

“I think there is a process to establish a grand prix and I don’t think it has been followed,” said Barros. “The sports authority in motorsport in Spain is the federation, and to date a project has not been received.

“If a proposal is considered valid and interesting, it is channelled to the FIA to deal with homologations and certifications, especially with a semi-urban circuit. And nobody at the FIA has worked on this project that is in the media.

“Then, when it is approved and homologated, there is a tough battle to be included in the calendar. And I now of at least two other projects to bring F1 to Madrid.”

Barros also admits he is not supportive of the way the current Madrid GP project has been “positioned” as a matter of “Madrid against Barcelona”.

“It seems influenced by the political situation,” he said. “I have read a lot that Madrid wants to steal F1 from Barcelona and put an end to Montmelo. And we already have experience of trying to bring the Olympic Games to Madrid, and due to leaks and not following the process, it did not happen.

“I hope that is not the case with this because I would love to have a race in Madrid.”

He also thinks it’s possible that Madrid has found itself at the centre of the current obvious political conflict between F1 on the one hand and the Ben Sulayem-led FIA on the other.

“If we talk specifically about F1, the FIA has been here for 150 years. We have seen many promoters, teams and drivers, but the only thing that is there all the time is the FIA,” said Barros. “The owner of F1 is the FIA.

“Then, in F1, there is the famous 100 year agreement for the commercial responsibility being delegated exclusively to a third party, which is FOM. I don’t blame them alone, as we haven’t done our job or paid much attention to some aspects of our responsibility, and now we are trying to get back to normal. And when you want to get it back, it creates some conflict.

“But whether we like it or not, it is a marriage.”

You may also like