New arrival on F1 2026 calendar as Mercedes W15 drivers face nervy wait – F1 news round-up

Henry Valantine
Madrid will play host to Formula 1 from 2026. F1 news

IFEMA Madrid will provide a focal point for the new F1 circuit in the Spanish capital.

Tuesday’s F1 news saw confirmation of a brand-new circuit on the calendar from the 2026 season, and plenty more besides.

We have an exclusive interview with 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve to bring you, as well as reaction to the news of Madrid joining the F1 schedule in two years’ time.

Let’s take a look at the key headlines from Tuesday.

Welcoming Madrid back to the F1 calendar in 2026

For the first time since the 1980s, Formula 1 will be heading to Madrid from the 2026 season, with the Spanish capital having penned a 10-year deal to host the Spanish Grand Prix.

A 5.474km, 20-turn, semi-street layout has been proposed and will be subject to FIA homologation, with rumours having been building up for quite some time about Madrid joining the calendar.

“Madrid is an incredible city with amazing sporting and cultural heritage, and today’s announcement begins an exciting new chapter for F1 in Spain,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“I would like to thank the team at IFEMA Madrid, the Regional Government of Madrid, and the city’s Mayor for putting together a fantastic proposal.

“It truly epitomises Formula 1’s vision to create a multi-day spectacle of sport and entertainment that delivers maximum value for fans and embraces innovation and sustainability.”

Read more: Confirmed: Huge Madrid Grand Prix deal announced, first track details uncovered

Mercedes drivers in ‘observing’ mode while they wait for W15

Mercedes technical director James Allison has said both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are in a pattern of keeping in touch with the team where they can, but all they can do for now is keep ‘observing’ until the W15 is ready to drive.

“Both drivers, their role over the winter is very largely to look after their physical condition,” he said, as quoted by

“[To] make sure that they’re mentally prepared, and just stay in touch with us about our successes and failures as we are going through the hoops of getting the car specified, built, tested, and ready for them.

“It isn’t really a part of the year where they can have other than an observing role with what we’re doing.  

“Once the car is running and once the car is talking to us, the person that is the interpreter is the driver, and then their voices start to have much greater weight. So over the winter, it’s just getting themselves ready for the new challenge.”

Read more: Mercedes drivers face anxious W15 wait with ‘observing’ roles revealed

Exclusive: Jacques Villeneuve discusses ‘brutal’ F1 race scheduling

The F1 season is set to end with two triple-headers this season, albeit with a significant gap in between them, but the combination of Las Vegas – Qatar – Abu Dhabi has already raised eyebrows, not least for the fact that flying from Vegas to Qatar takes around 18 hours.

That leaves an extremely tight turnaround for the teams to get prepared for the second part of what will be a demanding triple-header of race weekends to end the longest-ever F1 season in terms of races.

With that, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve feels for the people behind the scenes.

He exclusively told “That’s gonna be brutal. Already, the double-header late in the [2023] season, flying back from Vegas – it’s not an easy airport to fly from so getting here… it’s OK for a big team because they can rent a big plane, put all the mechanics in it, and fly.

“It’s really brutal for the media – I think this is the group that is being left behind in all that is happening. The cost of everything is going up, hotels, travelling, these trips have become very, very complicated.

“But, for teams, they find ways to travel. Staff rotations can work but it’s hard on the staff. The timezone is in the wrong direction because you lose time by coming in instead of gaining.

“It makes it very hectic to set everything up, set the teams up, catering, and all that. It takes time and that’s a little bit rough.”

Read more: Jacques Villeneuve exclusive: The F1 personnel being left behind by ‘brutal’ race scheduling

Why Madrid’s F1 arrival is not a death knell for Barcelona

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds a contract to stay in Formula 1 until 2026, meaning there is highly likely to be a season with two Spanish races on the calendar.

But for those who believe that Madrid’s arrival signals the end of Barcelona’s stint in F1 that stretches back to 1991, Stefano Domenicali has said to think again – with the sport enjoying a “very good relationship” with promoters in Barcelona and not ruling out a new deal.

“For the avoidance of doubt and to clarify here, the fact we are in Madrid is not excluding the fact we could stay in Barcelona for the future,” Domenicali said.

“Looking ahead, there are discussions in place to see if we can really extend our collaboration with Barcelona, with whom we have a very good relationship, for the future.”

Read more: Goodbye Barcelona? Why Madrid Grand Prix doesn’t spell a certain end

All you need to know about ‘B’ teams in F1 ahead of AlphaTauri’s rebrand

McLaren have been vocal in their opposition to co-ownership of teams on the grid, while Mercedes have taken a more pragmatic view considering the tightness of the regulations surrounding them.

With that in mind, we delved deeper into the regulations and found exactly what can and cannot be shared between two teams – with Red Bull and AlphaTauri set to collaborate more tightly in the 2024 season.

While Red Bull want to bring AlphaTauri, in their rebranded form, as close as the regulations allow to the ‘senior’ squad, we’ve taken a look at exactly what is and is not allowed to happen between the two teams – or any teams looking to co-operate in such a way.

Read more: B teams explained: The strict FIA regulations Red Bull must abide by with rebrand plan