Barcelona had to fend off a challenge from Madrid to retain the Spanish Grand Prix, says the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya president.
Formula 1 recently confirmed that Barcelona is remaining on the calendar until at least 2026 after a new contract was agreed, with promises of the circuit upgrading its infrastructure and improving its environmental credentials.
Something of a ‘marmite’ decision with F1 fans, the news will not have been universally welcomed as the track has not often produced memorable, exciting races – although this year’s, won by Lewis Hamilton from Max Verstappen, was better than many have been.
But although there was clearly a keenness on Formula 1’s part to keep a race in Spain, it was not entirely straightforward that it would remain in Barcelona because the country’s capital was, it has been claimed, declaring an interest to snatch it away.
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An actual venue was not specified by Barcelona circuit president Roger Torrent, but it was revealed earlier this year that a new track was being planned in Morata de Tajuna, south east of Madrid.
During an interview with Catalunya Radio about Barcelona’s new grand prix deal, Torrent said: “Did it cost a lot? Yes, because obviously there is a lot of competition.
“Everyone imagines there are many cities, countries and regions that would like to have a Formula 1 grand prix.
“Some very close to us have competed and looked for a way to try to replace the grand prix.
“There was a willingness on the part of Madrid to drag the grand prix that we now hold in Barcelona to Madrid, so it has not been easy.”
However, there was also a denial from the capital that Madrid had made any official attempt to try to wrest the grand prix away from Barcelona.
Enrique Lopez, a cabinet minister in the Community of Madrid, said, as quoted by SoyMotor.com: “Neither President [Isabel] Ayuso nor anyone in her government has done anything to bring Formula 1 to Madrid to the detriment of Catalonia.”
One of the conditions for Barcelona’s new contract was reported to be an upgrade of the paddock facilities at a venue which is now three decades old, with a 5G network among the plans.
“This is good for racing and has a positive impact on making the circuit more competitive in order to attract automotive brands that can carry out physical and innovation tests around the circuit,” said Torrent.
“There will be physical investments in the track, but also in the connection and digitalisation of the infrastructure.”