Teams welcome return to South Africa, but not at the expense of classics


With F1 bosses in talks with organisers with a view to the sport returning to South Africa, team bosses are all for a return but not at the expense of classic European venues.

Hardly a day seems to pass these days without news of F1 targeting another country or city as a prospective Grand Prix host.

In recent weeks we've had Nice and Madrid while F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali headed to South Africa following the Azerbaijan Grand Prix amidst talk of a race as early as next year.

The current Concorde Agreement - such as it is - allows for a maximum of 24 races per season, however Domenicali has said he believes there is the potential for as many as 30, and this could be a key factor when the current Concorde expires in 2025.

However, expanding the calendar, in the eye of Liberty, means new territories not the same old, and consequently there are increasing fears for the likes of France, Spa-Francorchamps even Monaco.

Though there is talk of venues hosting races on a rotational basis, there are fears that hosting fees together with the desire to take F1 to the streets may mean the demise of some of the sport's classics... somewhat ironic when you consider that in the midst of the pandemic it was these very tracks that the sport turned to.

Team bosses welcome the new, especially the likes of South Africa, but not at the expense of traditional venues.

"We have the luxury problem of having more countries that want to have Grands Prix than we can put on our calendar," says Zak Brown, "so that's a good problem to have.

"Ultimately, I think we all have a tremendous amount of trust in Stefano to put together the most optimum calendar for fans, for teams, for sustainability as far as logistics, economics and all this goes into play when putting together a calendar.

"I do think there'll probably be a point where we need to look at rotational races because if we have the demand, and there are great tracks and great countries, then I think we should try and embrace them. But that will be beyond what is physically possible to compete in. And then we've got some great new venues that have come on: Vegas, Miami and... I think we all love the historical circuits so hopefully there's a place for us to accommodate everyone in an adaptable, flexible calendar in the future."

"There are a lot of countries who want a race and a lot of new exciting races," adds Jost Capito. "But on the other side, a circuit like Spa is traditional, the drivers love it and... the teams don't love it that much because of the weather, but I think it has a place in the calendar and to see how in the future you get the right balance between new tracks and the traditional tracks.

"But we have trust in Stefano, because he's long enough in Formula 1 to know the value of the traditional races as well and we are confident that he presents a really balanced calendar."

"F1 is a world championship," insists Frederic Vasseur, "and I think it would make absolutely sense to have a race in Africa and Kyalami would be, I think, a great event.

"Now we don't have to see it as a competition between Spa and Kyalami, it's not the case at all, but it's a good feeling also for the championship to have this kind of competition. I remember a couple of years ago, we are not in this shape and that we have to appreciate the job done by the FOM and the FIA."

"Formula 1 will find a good balance," believes Otmar Szafnauer. "Me personally, I love going to Spa because of the track. So hopefully that'll be one that can stay."

"We support F1 in making a balanced calendar," adds Mike Krack, "I think they are well aware of where the fan base are, how much balance you need to have between new and classic.

"If one or the other race is not on the calendar every year, I don't think it's a drama," he admits. "We have to look for the new without going to 35 races or something like that. So, from that point of view, I think we will find a good balance.

"And as I said, if there is one not there for one year, something we had in the past, I think Germany rotated a couple of years ago, and it's okay, in my opinion."

"I'm really very much looking forward to go to South Africa," says Franz Tost, "because we miss this race over there. We miss this continent. And it's really, really important to have a race over there.

"And for the other races," he adds, ever the pragmatist, "I don't want to mention any names. No money, no game, it's totally easy. If they have the money, we go there. If they don't have the money we don't go there."

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Published: 29/06/2022
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