The Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg would be delighted to host a Formula One Grand Prix. But Kyalami is, and will always be, a circuit provider, renting the venue and its facilities to event promoters.
Thus, if approached by a promoter with the funds to bring a Formula One race to our shores, Kyalami would make every effort to make the event happen – and run flawlessly. That is what Kyalami does whenever anybody hires it, for whatever occasion.
The circuit will not negotiate with prospective sponsors, no matter what the event. So said Christo Kruger, Kyalami’s group public relations manager, yesterday.
Kruger was reacting to a statement by seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton that South Africa should become part of the F1 Grand Prix travelling circus. Hamilton said that the return of F1 to Africa and, specifically, South Africa, can no longer be avoided.
“We are pretty much on every other continent, so why not there?” Hamilton said.
With the exception of the Poles and Africa, every continent hosts at least one round of the current F1 Grand Prix series.
The last South African F1 Grand Prix took place at Kyalami in 1993 and was won by French driver Alain Prost in a Williams Renault, with Ayrton Senna second in a McLaren Ford and Mark Blundell third in a Ligier Renault.
Kyalami has hosted 21 of the 28 South African Grands Prix held on and off between 1960 and 1993.
Experts reckon it would cost about R510 million to stage a Grand Prix at the circuit. That apart, Kyalami does not currently conform to the FIA’s Level 1 requirement needed to host a Grand Prix. Modifying the
venue could cost up to another R20 million.
“We could probably bring the MotoGP circus here at a tenth of Formula One’s price, with the added bonus of two South Africans, Brad and Darren Binder, racing at the top level of the sport,” said former motorcycle Grand Prix racer and motorsport expert Dave Petersen.
He added that the ticket prices for a Formula One event would probably run to more than R5 000 each – well beyond the means of South African motorsport enthusiasts.
At the moment, Kyalami’s blue ribbon event is the annual Kyalami nine-hour sports car race, that serves as the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge hosted annually since 2019.