AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
LEWIS Hamilton says he would be very keen to see Formula 1 return to Africa, especially in South Africa.
Formula 1’s regular season features 20 races in various cities around the world, and yet it has no races scheduled on the African continent.
“The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important for me is to get a race back in South Africa,” Hamilton said in Austin, Texas.
“I think there’s a great following out there. I think it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is.”
Hamilton has been to South Africa and met the country’s first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela.
The seven-time champion is among those within the motorsport’s community who have been looking at a Grand Prix returning to the country that hosted races between the 1970s and 1990s, much to the chagrin of some former racers during South Africa’s apartheid regime.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has stated a clear plan along with Liberty Media to expand the Formula 1 calendar and make moves into new locations.
The CEO had hinted in previous interviews that Africa could see a Grand Prix staged on the continent around 2023, a hint that was confirmed by South African Grand Prix CEO Warren Scheckter, and owner of the Kyalami race track – which used to host the Grand Prix.
“We are ready: next year, we will discuss again the opportunity to bring F1 back to South Africa, to make the return official at the beginning of 2023,” says Scheckter.
Kyalami owner, Toby Venter, echoed the country’s readiness to host a race, stating that the track is ready and waiting for a visit from the FIA to approve and give it the grading needed for formula 1 vehicles.
Formula 1 planned to hold a Fan Festival in Johannesburg in March 2020, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Domenicali reiterated the sport’s desire to return to the African continent, saying expressions of interest had been received from promoters in both “North Africa [and] South Africa”.