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Niki Lauda

The Lauda link to F1's first track in Madrid

Formula 1 will be heading to Madrid once again for the Spanish Grand Prix come 2026 - with a street track, but a previous track in the capital has links to Niki Lauda.

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Since it joined the World Championship calendar in 1951, five tracks have hosted the Spanish Grand Prix with a new street circuit in Madrid set to be the sixth come 2026.

Winding around the IFEMA entertainment complex, the race is set to enjoy a long-term deal until 2035 as the existing host of Barcelona fights to save its future on the calendar.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has suggested that just because Madrid is in, it automatically means Barcelona to be out, but talks are to take place to see what solution can be found to the Catalunya circuit losing the Grand Prix it has held every year since 1991.

By the time the contract ends for 2025, Catalunya would have hosted 35 Spanish Grands Prix, with Jarama second on the list with nine between 1968 and 1981.

It was at this tricky little circuit just north of Madrid where in 1974, Ferrari's Niki Lauda took the first of his 25 Grand Prix wins.

The Lauda link to Madrid

The original Jarama circuit used for the F1 races was a tricky 20-turn 2.02-mile clockwise ride located about 20 miles north of Madrid.

It first held an F1 race in 1967, but this was a non-World Championship event won by Jim Clark, but by the time Jarama joined the official calendar the following year, Clark was dead and the Spanish GP was the first race after the Scot's death with Graham Hill winning for the shattered Lotus team.

After wins for Hill, Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi, come 1974, Lauda was in his first year at Ferrari having caught the eye of Enzo, promptly telling him exactly what he thought of the Cavallino Rampante.

From pole, Lauda initially struggled in the wet conditions with Ronnie Peterson leading but as the track dried, Ferrari perfectly timed the switch to dry tyres with a rapid 35-second pit-stop to allow the Austrian into the lead.

Lauda won comfortably from team-mate Clay Regazzoni and that year's eventual champion Fittipaldi as Peterson's engine died on Lap 23.

Jarama then continued alternated with Montjuic in Barcelona through the early 1970s, but the latter was discounted after the tragic 1975 race where fans were killed after Rolf Stommelen crashed and landed in a spectator area.

In a landmark moment, this final Spanish GP before the switch to Jarama saw Lella Lombardi become the first, and to date, only female driver to score (half) a point, with the race being stopped after just 29 of 75 laps.

Villeneuve's greatest win?

Despite the 1980 event being run to non-championship rules after a disagreement between FISA and the local organisers, it returned in 1981 for the final time.

This is the race lauded as the finest of Gilles Villeneuve's six Grand Prix wins, and his last.

Knowing his Ferrari was not good enough in the corners, Villeneuve climbed from sixth on the grid to lead by Lap 14 of 80, where he used the grunt of the V12 to just about hold off the pack behind him.

Four drivers were bottled up behind the Canadian, with Jacques Lattife, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio de Angelis all crossing the line within 1.24s of the Ferrari at the flag.

After the race, the Spanish GP was absent until it reappeared at Jerez in 1986, before moving to Barcelona for 1991 - with that first race being best remembered wheel-to-wheel battle down the pit-straight between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell.

			© Photo4
	© Photo4

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