Lewis Hamilton will not be granted his dream of going racing in South Africa – and the reason why relates to Vladimir Putin. The Mercedes driver has been “pushing” for a race in Africa with the Kyalami circuit having last hosted a Grand Prix back in 1993.
There had been plans to revive the race in 2024, with Stefano Domenicali – the F1 CEO – even visiting Kyalami last year. However the FIA have now abandoned the idea. RacingNews365 say South Africa’s ties with Putin’s Russia are the reason why.
Since Russia’s war on Ukraine, the FIA have banned races in the country while Russian drivers are unable to compete in the sport unless they agree to race under a neutral flag. South Africa have adopted a neutral stance on the Russian conflict despite opinions elsewhere.
The African nation has a close political relationship with Russia and Putin’s regime, and that means Hamilton will be denied his wish of a Grand Prix in the country. The seven-time world champion had said previously: “Yeah I’ve been chatting about having a race in Miami and the next one I’ve been talking about is South Africa.
“That’s what I’m pushing for in the background so hopefully you’ll see that come to light soon as well. It’s a real big dream for me to race in South Africa, and race in Africa in my career is a huge, huge dream for me. I’m pushing as hard as I can in the background and I’m going high up to make sure we have that race happen.”
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But the standstill on the South African Grand Prix project is an update that will please the bulk of F1 fans. That is because it is good news for the Belgian Grand Prix.
ESPN report that Spa-Francorchamps is now expected to get another year on the F1 calendar. The iconic circuit had been due to fall victim to Kyalami’s return, with F1 allowed a maximum of 24 races per season, although the long-term future of the Belgium race remains cloudy.
The popular track is believed to want a long-term deal for extra financial security. ESPN add that the sport still remains keen to find a venue for a race in Africa, suggesting Spa is not free of danger for 2025.
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Spa has been on the F1 calendar for more than 70 years and world champion Max Verstappen was among those last year to express concern at the possible loss of the Belgian Grand Prix. He said: “It would be a big shame to lose Spa. It’s my favourite track in the world. I think it’s just an amazing track in a Formula One car.”
Verstappen’s Red Bull boss Christian Horner similarly told Sky Sports F1: “Spa, it’s one of those historic races. Monza, Silverstone, Spa, they’re the big and historic ones, we should ringfence those and protect those. It’s great that there’s these new events coming in and there’s interest.
“But you’ve got to have that history. It’d be like having the ATP Tour without Wimbledon. They’re part of our history, they’re part of our DNA. We’ll definitely make our opinion known.” While Lando Norris added: “I think Spa should always be there as long as Formula One exists.”
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