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Kyalami, South Africa

 A South Africa return to F1 may be off the cards for good following the arrival of the Madrid GP

F1 has announced that from 2026, they will be racing in Madrid, which may see any hopes of a African-based Grand Prix fade away

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Following the announcement of the Madrid Grand Prix for 2026, the return of a Grand Prix to South Africa seems to be slipping away, despite F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali claiming he wants to develop the sport further in the “African area”.

Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon in March Cosworths, Jack Brabham in a Brabham-Cosworth BT33, South African GP, Kyalami, 7 March 1970.
Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon in March Cosworths, Jack Brabham in a Brabham-Cosworth BT33, South African GP, Kyalami, 7 March 1970. (Photo by GPLibrary/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
What happened to the plans for a South African GP

The most likely option for an African-based Grand Prix would be a return to the South African circuit of Kyalami. The circuit had previously held races between 1967 and 1993.

However, in 2024, a return to Kyalami was scrapped by F1 despite Domenicali holding a meeting with the track organisers in the hope of reaching a deal to race in 2024. 

The earliest opportunity for a race is 2025, which is increasingly unlikely following the arrival of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and the soon-to-be-added Madrid Grand Prix.

It was believed that the South African Grand Prix was put on the back burner due to the ongoing war in Russia and their relationship with the South African government.

Domenicali had previously spoken about his desire to have a race in Africa, the plans of which are yet to come to fruition. According to Autosport, The Italian CEO said:

“There are areas of the world that wants to have Formula 1, and I think that one area that we want to develop is the African area.

“We are a world championship, and that’s an area where we are not there.”

Is there any room for South Africa

With 24 races on the current calendar for 2024, it leaves little room for any more races, with many team principals and drivers unhappy with the number of races currently on the calendar.

However, with F1 constantly expanding its global reach, it has seen additions in the US and Middle Eastern markets, yet there is no race in Africa.

There were talks of a 26-race season, but the likes of Charles Leclerc and former Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner once again shut down these plans.

However, Domenicali clarified that their decision to opt for another Spanish-based race resulted from the country’s growing F1 market.

“Spain was a market that just a couple of years ago, was not in the centre of our eyes,” The Italian added.

“Now it is very important. We signed a new deal with Spanish broadcaster DAZN until at least the end of 2026. It’s a nice problem to have multiple cities – some in the same country – wanting to host a Grand Prix.

“It shows the value of our proposition. But we need to keep focused on the reason for our success, and make sure we aren’t complacent.”

Disappointment for Hamilton

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was open to the media about his hopes of a Grand Prix in South Africa earlier in the year. Now, with this latest Spanish addition, the chances of his hopes coming true seem to have disappeared.

In an interview before the Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton said:

“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 know I have a big following out there and I know a lot of people are into Formula One now there so 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.”

Despite this setback for Africa, all is not lost, as Liberty Media announced in 2022 that it was one of their priorities to race in Africa, with another possibility being a race in Morocco, which has previously been an option with the Moulay El Hassan street circuit, previously holding Formula E events.

There are still options available to the fans of a South African GP, as with the current Concorde Agreement, which allows a maximum of 24 races in a season expiring, room for extra races could soon be an option.

 

Featured image:GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images

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