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Will South Africa ever host Formula One in the future?

With the South African Grand Prix looking to not go ahead once again, will there ever be a Formula One return to the circuit?

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In 1993 the last South African Grand Prix was held.

With Formula One desperate to cement its status as a true world championship, a return to the iconic Kyalami circuit, South Africa, seemed inevitable. And it left some wondering, Will South Africa ever host Formula One in the future?

A general view of the Kyalami race track main entrance

During the previous Formula One season, it was confirmed that F1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, had been hosting meetings regarding a comeback of Kyalami. Although a 2024 race seemed more likely, reports had iterated that a 2023 race may have been possible.

As the talks began to fall through with Kyalami. The owners at the Belgian Grand Prix used this opportunity to swoop in and secure another one-year deal for 2024. This seems to then push the opportunity of a South African Grand Prix back to 2025.

Despite another Belgian Grand Prix in 2024, its fate may be sealed in the future. Many people have spoken about a possible alternating schedule with Spa, Belgium, and Zandvoort, Netherlands. This is not confirmed however.

Domenicali refused to speak on the 2024 F1 calendar but when asked about the potential South African Grand Prix, he explained:

“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.”

Lewis Hamilton also had an opinion on the possible return of a South African Grand Prix. He had this to say at the Miami GP:

“I like the direction personally that (F1) is going in. “I’ve been here, like many people, here a long time. I like the change that we are seeing and it’s exciting coming to different parts of the world and different circuits.”

Why did the talks fall through so dramatically?

It seems that the real reason behind discussions falling through was the result of South Africa’s “warm” political relations with Russia. Following the country’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. Formula One opted to cancel all dealings with the nation “indefinitely”.

The aforementioned ongoing conflict seems to be a tough situation for F1, as South Africa has refused to condemn the actions of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Military.

Another issue appeared to be, due to F1’s influx in popularity, the cost of hosting a race has risen. Other tracks like Malaysia have suffered a poor fate due to this. Kyalami is also not prepared to pay as much as other circuits are required to, so Formula One could only offer a short-term contract.

Unless a dramatic falling out of another circuit happens before the start of the 2024 season. It is most likely past the point of possibility for a South African Grand Prix in 2024. And if there was a spontaneous fallout of a circuit or two before the start of the season. Circuits like Istanbul Park, Hockenheim, and Mugello have all been called in to substitute before.

Feature image credit: Getty Images/Staff

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