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Kyalami eyeing 2023 F1 return?

NEWS STORY
14/06/2022

Having last hosted a round of the world championship in 1993, South Africa's Kyalami circuit is eyeing a return to the calendar as early as next year.

It's understood that following Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali has headed straight to South Africa to continue negotiations.

Since its construction in 1961, Kyalami has hosted the South African Grand Prix on twenty occasions, though since the 1993 event, won by Alain Prost it has been completely rebuilt and the surrounding area developed.

While F1 may have stayed away, the circuit has hosted Superbikes, A1 Grand Prix, the 2019 Kyalami 9 Hours and the season finale of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge among others

Since the world championship last visited South Africa there have been numerous false starts, and while the sport has returned for testing purposes the continent hasn't played host to the F1 circus in almost three decades.

Speaking last year, F1's global director of race promotion admitted that taking F1 back to Africa was a "priority" for the sport.

"Africa is a continent that we don't race in, and that is just wrong," said Chloe Targett-Adams in a Blackbook online seminar. "It's somewhere that we very much want, it's the priority. We've been in talks with possible options for a few years.

"We're hoping that ultimately, we will be able to achieve a race there in the kind of near to mid-term," she added.

She reiterated her feelings last month in Monaco, at the Business of F1 forum. "COVID showed us that we can race quickly," she said, "but really to get where we want to be strategically, to build the sport and build the fan-base, it is a couple of years process.

"The US is still very much in our sights. Africa and Asia I think is where we need to be. If you look at China with the way that COVID has happened, we've been out of that market for maybe three years. Next year is still a question mark.

"Africa and Asia is the focus I think in the short- to mid-term, and how we race in Europe is also a big question, making sure we keep that heartland of the sport.

"It's a wonderful position to be in, because everyone wants a race. That just gives us the best opportunity to create the most strategically-focused, growth-driven calendar that we've been able to do for many years."

Seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton has made no secret of his desire to see F1 in Africa.

Speaking in a video for Petronas in 2020, when asked where he would most like F1 to race, the Briton was in no doubt. "Easy," he replied, "Africa. It's such an important place to go back to.

"At the moment Formula 1 goes to countries and doesn't really leave much behind if anything," he added. "Formula 1 has to shift into being a sport that does go to places and leaves behind something that can really help the communities and I think firstly bringing the attention back to Africa and highlighting the beautiful place it is, I think that's the most important place that we have to go to.

"It needs to be held where it's not all about money," he said, "it's about people, and in business that's not always the case, so that's something I'm pushing for."

While the war in Ukraine has seen the proposed 2022 schedule slip to 22 races, next year sees the return of Qatar and the addition of Las Vegas.

However, with teams bemoaning the current schedule, and a maximum of 24 races under the current Concorde Agreement, it is likely that existing races will be dropped, the most likely casualty being the French Grand Prix.

Also, despite the extensive revision to the circuit, mainly, it must be said, with the objective of bringing back two-wheeled racing, it is understood that Spa-Francorchamps, possibly one of the most popular events on the calendar - with drivers and fans - is in danger.

Indeed, with money very much at the core of Liberty's ambitions it is those venues that can pay the most that will continue to play host to the championship.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Baku, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Lapps, 14/06/2022 7:48

"Interesting, wrong picture though. That’s Crowthorne Corner at the end of the ‘old’ main straight. It no longer exists. Great corner though. If the photo had been a bit further to the left you would have seen my ‘home made’ grandstand (two shipping containers on skeletal trailers) wouldn’t get away with that these days. Happy Days!"

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Quickdraw, 14/06/2022 7:42

"@Kenji ... sadly the reality is that the benefits of cash inflows never reach the pockets of the locals. They are scooped up by cadres of the ruling party. USD 33 billion in foreign aid simply vanished during the pandemic and the people starved, myself included. Not a penny in financial aid filtered down to the population other than a pathetic USD 23 a month per person in social grant for the poorest. The corruption scandals around PPE and COVID related procurement came faster than journalists could report on them, and within three months the government was brandishing it's begging bowl once again, saying that it couldn't afford vaccines and blaming "imperialist capitalists" for not prioritising third world countries on the handout list for free vaccines. The best thing F1 can do for the locals is boycott South Africa. The collapse of infrastructure and the economy over the past almost thirty years is one of the saddest things I have witnessed in my lifetime. A war of attrition against it's own citizens. This isn't a forum for political discussion so I'll leave it there. "

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3. Posted by kenji, 14/06/2022 0:51

"@ Quickdraw....exactly so. Makes racing in some of the other jurisdictions frequented by F1 seem totally tame. But never mind, some drivers are championing the return to Kyalami mainly due to the good effect they can have on the locals. As you say, 'Good luck with that' and leave the necklaces and jewellery at home in Monaco. The term 'necklace' has a totally different connotation in South Africa where it originated in the mid '80's."

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4. Posted by Quickdraw, 13/06/2022 22:09

"Good luck with that. Make sure that you don't leave the circuit, don't go out for dinner and don't wear any fancy watches boys. Take a posse of guards armed with automatic weapons to escort you to the circuit. Otherwise you might just find yourself in a ditch next to the road with a bullet in the back of your head and minus a cellular phone. Crime in South Africa is off the charts. Flashing a cell phone in the wrong place is enough to get you killed, and whatever you do, don't have a puncture, even in broad daylight. You could well be attacked, robbed and left for dead. It happens weekly. On your way to the circuit watch out for rocks and sharp steel objects placed in the road, designed to disable your vehicle so that you can be relieved of your valuables. On and while we're on the subject, have a look at the rates of rape and femicide in South Africa. World leaders in this department, nicely augmented with corrupt and incompetent policing and a legal system that champions the criminal. If there's a place F1 shouldn't go because of their social awareness and human rights agenda, then South Africa is right up there with the best of them."

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5. Posted by Anthony, 13/06/2022 21:21

"I’d prefer a race at Kyalami rather than Las Vegas!"

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