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Behind the main stand, a tumult. Formula 1 arrives at the Montmeló circuit and, before the cars appear, hundreds of fans walk along the asphalt, get on the simulators and browse the shops. Most stop in front of the Aston Martin stand. There is a desire to destroy the marketing of Fernando Alonso, but the prices - a cap, 50 euros; a T-shirt, 90; A jacket, 280 euros- contain the spirits. No matter, the success of the Grand Prix seems assured. It's Thursday and the full is already smelling. Nothing to do with the sad stretch between 2015 and 2019, when nobody went to the track the days before and on Sunday, hopefully, 80,000 spectators were reached.

"This year we are going to exceed 100,000 fans, for sure", proclaims the director of the circuit, Josep Lluís Santamaría, in conversation with EL MUNDO and at the same time points out a novelty: "And there will be many, many are young". He's right: in the fan zone it shows.

Little remains of the first Alonsomanía, that tide of Asturians that filled Montmeló with extra stands superimposed on top of each other -the 140,000 spectators were passed-; the new fans come from all over Spain and are teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings at most. They didn't see Alonso beat Michael Schumacher or did it when they went to Primary, but they have seen him on TikTok and in the Netflix documentary Drive to Survive. "Fernando is very important to me. I've been following him since 2005 and there have been hard years, but now he's back. I had been waiting for 10 years for him to fight for victories," explains José, from Barcelona, 29, a fan since he was 11.

The effect of elections

It is an example of the new audience. In fact, tickets for some stands have taken longer to sell -ranging from 264 to 484 euros-, but flew in the stands Carlos Sainz -180 euros- and especially in the young pelouse -49.5 euros-. "We have always had an expert fan, who knows about regulations and set-ups, but now another type of fan is growing. That is why it is important that there are more things, activities, concerts, in addition to what happens on the track, "says Santamaría, responsible for the Montmeló circuit, who warns of a clear future thanks to this new boom of Formula 1 with a single threat: Madrid. The possible departure of the Spanish Grand Prix in 2027 – when the current contract ends – to the IFEMA facilities in Madrid.

A member of the circuit acknowledged yesterday to this newspaper that the results of the last elections were followed nervously in the place. The defeat of Ada Colau in Barcelona seems good news, because the Catalan capital can increase its investment in the facility, contained in recent times, but the absolute majority of the Popular Party both in the Community and in the City Council of Madrid multiplies the danger.

Does the Madrid project pose a threat to the Barcelona circuit? We have 33 years of history here, before we had been in Montjuïc and, before, in Pedralbes. We have a contract until 2026 and we are focused on getting the Grand Prix through in the best possible way. That is our reality: what we do, not what we speak. Our work can be seen, it is not a project.

The director of the circuit, Josep Lluís Santamaría, assures that "relations with Formula 1 are excellent" and that its facilities "continue to be updated" to retain the World Championship, but uncertainty flies over the Grand Prix between the enjoyment of the appearance of a new motor hobby. "There are also many circuits that work without Formula 1," adds Santamaría, who promises long life to the circuit even without the Great Circus. The economic impact on the region would be lost – it is estimated between 160 and 180 million – but the track would also stop paying the Formula 1 fee, which exceeds 20 million.

The opinion of Alonso and Sainz

However, the essential thing now is that so many people, so many new fans, have a good time on Sunday. "The important thing is that there is a Formula 1 race in Spain every year. Whether it is in Barcelona or Madrid is not so important, "analyzed Carlos Sainz on Thursday.

"I'm comfortable in Barcelona and I would also be comfortable in Madrid. I like the classic circuits better, but it depends on the interest of the regions involved, "added Fernando Alonso, who celebrated the increase in fans, but moved away from a debate that aims long: "In 2027 I do not know if I will be in F1 or I will see it on the sofa. "

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