EXCLUSIVE: Formula One bosses hope to stage a Grand Prix in South Africa next year – 30 years after the last race in Africa – at the 100,000-capacity Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg
- Formula One will step up its attempts to add South Africa to its 2023 calendar
- Stefano Domenicali is preparing to make a quick stop in the country next week
- Should it be agreed, it would be held at the 100,000-capacity Kyalami circuit
- Africa has not hosted a Formula One Grand Prix since South Africa in 1993
Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali will make a whistlestop tour to South Africa next week in an attempt to add the country to the calendar, possibly as early as next year.
Sportsmail understands talks are at advanced stage with Domenicali especially keen to take the sport into the last inhabited continent as a statement of F1’s global reach.
If negotiations prove successful, the race would be held at the 2.8-mile Kyalami circuit, north of Johannesburg, which last staged a grand prix in 1993 after being a mainstay of the roster through the Sixties, Seventies and early Eighties.
Formula One is pushing to host a first Grand Prix in Africa since 1993 by returning to South Africa’s Kyalami Circuit (pictured: a fan cheers Ayrton Senna’s McLaren in 1993)
Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali will head to South Africa after Azerbaijan Grand Prix
The venue holds 100,000 spectators and, it is understood, would only need a minor tweak to its facilities to meet F1’s specific needs.
Domenicali will fly out to speak to Kyalami owner Toby Venter and chief executive Tom Hamilton after this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku.
The French round held at Paul Ricard will be dropped as Formula One scales back on races in Europe to make space in the already bloated itinerary.
The Belgian Grand Prix in Spa is also under threat, though it may be retained on alternate years.
Lewis Hamilton has backed the Kyalami plan, saying recently: ‘The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important to get a race back is in South Africa.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has previously spoken in favour of Kyalami plan
‘There is a great following out there and I think it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is.’
Chief executive Domenicali said: ‘On top of America, on top of China, there is a potential to be in Africa soon. There is a lot of interest there. That’s an area that so far is missing in the geography of our calendar.’
‘It is up to us to try to find the right balance between the historical values of the old and famous European tracks and other destinations across the world.
‘Various promoters have expiring agreements, and some of the current grands prix will probably no longer be part of the calendar.’
WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME F1 RACED IN SOUTH AFRICA?
This 72-lap race kickstarted the 1993 season.
It was the 33rd instalment of the South African Grand Prix, but would prove to be its last as Formula One has not returned to the continent since.
There was a lot of anticipation at such a big circuit to start the new season, with many big name driver moves in the off-season.
Legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna qualified second to Alain Prost, who had rejoined Williams-Renualt, and the Frenchman produced a serene drive to win it from the front.
Five British drivers helped fill out the 26-man field with Damon Hill, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, Derek Warwick and Mark Blundell all on track.
DRIVERS IN THE FIELD
1. Alain Prost (FRA)
2. Ayrton Senna (BRA)
3. Mark Blundell (GBR)
4. Christian Fittipaldi (BRA)
5. JJ Lehto (FIN)
6. Gerhard Berger (AUT)
7. Derek Warwick (GBR)
8. Martin Brundle (GBR)
9. Michele Alboreto (ITA)
10. Erik Comas (ITA)
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