Motor racing’s premier Formula 1 (F1) series is close to agreeing a deal that will see South Africa – and indeed Africa as a whole – return to its calendar for the first time since 1993, it has been reported.
According to various outlets, F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali flew from Sunday’s (June 12) Azerbaijan Grand Prix to South Africa to discuss hosting a race at the country’s Kyalami circuit just north of Johannesburg, which hosted a race between 1967 and 1985, and then again in 1992 and 1993.
F1 is reportedly keen to secure a deal to host a race there as early as the 2023 season, which could mean a record 24-race calendar (the maximum allowed under the current Concorde Agreement with teams).
The news follows F1’s indication at a press event last week (June 7) that it is looking to capitalize on its thriving popularity by broadening its geographic footprint, with Africa a particular focus.
There, F1’s global director of race promotion Chloe Targett-Adams said: “I think for me there’s always a couple of really key factors. One is where gives us that broadest global footprint and what is the widest reach that we can get for the sport as a whole …
“Africa, for sure, as a target is the only continent that we’re not in – it’s an unbelievable demographic and population and one that we’re very keen to bring into the series, so that’s very much in our sights. And Asia has been a strong market for a while and, equally, more growth there is something we’re working very hard on.”
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F1 has already confirmed one new destination for next season, with the addition of the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The Miami, Dutch, Qatar, Saudi Arabian, Turkish, Styrian, and Portuguese Grands Prix have been added in recent seasons – some to replace others dropping off the calendar.
It remains unclear whether the Chinese Grand Prix will be held next year, with F1 having not raced there since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, although it is contracted until 2025.
It is thought that the French Grand Prix and Belgian Grand Prix are among those at risk of being dropped from 2023.