Migrants And Refugees Make A Home At Spain's Abandoned Valencia F1 Track

There's a stark contrast between the glamour of F1 and the living conditions of refugees now.

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Photo: Paul Gilham (Getty Images)

Spain’s Valencia Street Circuit housed Formula One racing for a five-year period during 2008 through 2012, when it was known as the venue for the European Grand Prix. Now that the sound of engines have died down, however, the track is now home to an entirely different group of people: migrants, refugees, and unhoused people, Al Jazeera reports.

The photos included in this article are frankly stunning. Migrants have used remnants of the circuit — things like barriers, ripped-up concrete, and fencing — to craft makeshift living spaces out of the remnants of the once-high flying F1 lifestyle. The local council estimates that there are about 50 other unhoused people living in the same F1 circuit complex.


Here’s a little bit from the article:

“I didn’t choose to live here,” Mohammed, a middle-aged Saharawi told Al Jazeera as he stood on the edge of a circle of huts made with walls of mattresses, plastic, wooden and metal poles in the centre of Valencia’s former Formula One circuit.

“I just needed a chance to work. And here, I have a small one.”

If Mohammed looks right from his Spanish “home”, less than a kilometre away, he can see the massive white curved arches of Valencia’s world-famous City of Arts and Sciences complex.

To the left, the skyline is dotted with cranes and multi-storeyed dockland buildings overlooking the Mediterranean.

In front of him, the site of the Formula One race, last held in 2012, is now a wasteland of tarmac, partly ripped up barriers and concrete, along with half a dozen circles of shacks.


The circuit has come to be home for people who fled to Valencia in the hope of finding work and instead found a city that didn’t have a job to provide them after corruption brought down its former excess. Without a job, there’s been no way for these people to make money. Now, they can’t afford to rent a place to live. A lack of a living space further exacerbates their problems, which is why the United Nations lists adequate housing as a human right.

The full Al Jazeera article lays out the fact that these refugee camps aren’t unique in Spain but that the contrast between the excess of F1 and the current living standards of the people calling the circuit home are so stark. It’s worth a read for anyone who follows F1, a series that has faced a significant amount of criticism over bringing its lavish parties to struggling cities.