Motorsport Correspondent
3 minute read
11 Apr 2022
11:10 am

Hamilton reiterates F1 must return to South Africa

Motorsport Correspondent

South Africa has not hosted a Grand Prix since 1993.

The season ending Intercontinental GT Challenge is currently the biggest international race held at Kyalami.

Seven-times Formula 1 (F1) world champion, Lewis Hamilton, has made a renewed call for South Africa to be reintroduced to the sport in lieu of its return next year to Las Vegas.

Not held since 1993, with victory on that occasion going to Williams’ Alain Prost, a return to South Africa, and in particular Kyalami that hosted 21 of the 28 South African Grand Prix held on and off between 1960 and 1993, has long been muted with a report last year by racingnews365.com alleging that discussions had been taking place in possible preparation for 2023.

“South Africa? They want to return, not for 2022 but we are in talks for 2023 or after that,” Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was quoted by the online publication as saying.

At the time, the former Ferrari boss stated, “There are other possibilities in North Africa, along with other countries that are making a bid to be part of F1. 

“This means that F1 is a platform that attracts a lot of attention, both in terms of sporting emotions and commercial benefits, which is a comforting sign given there are people that say it isn’t followed around the world.”

With the exception of the Poles and Africa, every other continent hosts a round of the series with the inclusion of Las Vegas in November taking the United States’ tally to three, the others being the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americans in Austin, Texas, and from later this year, the Grand Prix of the Miami on the streets of the Magic City.

Addressing the media in the run-up to this past weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth behind Mercedes teammate George Russell, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and eventual winter, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Hamilton said that a return to Africa can no longer be avoided.

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“It’s amazing that we have bridged a relationship that we have now three races on one continent. I think that’s going to be awesome, I think it’ll be good for the business, I think Vegas will be an awesome addition,” he said.

“But the one I really, really want to see is South Africa. That’s the one I want to hear next that gets announced. We’re pretty much on every other continent, so why not (there)?”

The return to Las Vegas, which hosted the F1 circus in 1981 and 1982, has however attracted criticism as it will push the series beyond its already record setting 23 rounds to 24.

The theoretical inclusion of Kyalami therefore will take the calendar to 25 races, the maximum Domenicali stated was possible in the mentioned interview.

“In terms of our contract, we can expand to 25 races but I can say that isn’t a short-term goal,” he said.

For now, an announcement regarding Kyalami remains open to speculation as it doesn’t conform to the FIA’s Level 1 requirement needed to host a Grand Prix.

Until such time, the track’s blue ribbon event will be the Kyalami 9-Hour that serves as the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge hosted annually since 2019.