F1 open to South African GP return

Kyalami hosted the last F1 South African Grand Prix in 1993

Kyalami hosted the last F1 South African Grand Prix in 1993

Formula 1 is only interested in a race in South Africa if it is a sustainable venture in the medium term.

Excluding Antarctica, Africa is the only continent not represented on the current world championship.

Its most recent visit came in 1993, the second of a two-year stint at Kyalami when South Africa last hosted F1.

The sport first visited, in a championship capacity, in 1962 at East London.

Kyalami was then a staple of the calendar from 1967 until Nigel Mansell’s win in 1985.

The only other grand prix to have been held on the African continent was the Moroccan Grand Prix, which took place near Casablanca in 1958.

“We can have other continents that could be taken in in the future like Africa, we can have a bigger growth also in the Far East,” F1 boss Stefano Domenicali told Speedcafe.

“There is a lot of opportunity that we can take if you’re doing a good job.”

Efforts in South Africa have been trying to get a race off the ground for some time.

The most recent, headed by Warren Scheckter, nephew of 1979 world champion Jody, failed due to a lack of funding.

At the heart of that was effectively a dispute between the South African Grand Prix organisation and Kyalami owner, Toby Venter, about who should pay for circuit improvements.

Another group has since emerged with interest in rebirthing the event, with work having been ongoing behind the scenes for some time.

There is interest from Formula 1 for a return, though it is not willing to head there are any costs.

With interest in the sport high, Domenicali holds the luxurious position of being able to pick and choose where F1 races.

It also means he does not need to jump at every opportunity, and can instead wait for the right deal to come along.

“I don’t want to say it’s not easy, but it’s more complicated because it’s a new dimension, to find the right partner in order to give stability for the medium term is vital,” he said.

“I don’t want to go there one year, say ‘listen, thank you very’.

“We are building on eventually this possibility and if you have the right elements that are given to us, the knowledge that everything is the right thing to do, we’re going to do it.”

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