It’s been almost thirty years since the Formula One last hosted an event in Africa but there’s good news on the horizon as it looks like the F1 organizers are planning on heading back to the continent in the near future. Following the Netflix series, Drive to Survive, which gives an intimate look into the lives of the F1’s drivers and teams, Formula One has had a huge boom in popularity. Fortunately for new fans, there are an abundance of ways to get involved in the action this season. From following the biggest names in F1 on social media, who are sharing more than ever before on Instagram and Twitter, to keeping up to date on the experts’ biggest F1 hopefuls through the likes of OddsChecker, who compare the odds from all the leading sportsbooks daily. As we bide our time waiting for confirmation on the elusive return to an African Grand Prix, let’s take a look at what those in the know have to say about this prospective addition to the future race calendar.
The Last African Grand Prix
It’s been 29 years since the last race took place in Africa. The first one at the Kyalami circuit took place in 1967, with the course hosting 21 races up until 1993. That last race was during round one of the 1993 Formula One World Championship, and featured Prost taking pole position ahead of Senna in second place. The race was an intense battle, during which Michael Schumacher attempted to overtake Senna during the 40th lap but made contact with him, spinning his car and retiring him from the race. Ultimately, the race was an absolute classic, leading many to dream of another championship race at the circuit once again.
And Now Another Race In Africa Seems Likely
There have been numerous reports in the past few months that a Grand Prix in Africa is a huge priority for the Formula One. Ever since control of the championship was took over by Liberty Media, there have been a host of both classic and new races given permanent deals with the F1. Races in Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as Miami and Las Vegas have emerged, and now there are hopes that Africa will be next on the list.
The most likely location of an African F1 race would be in South Africa at the aforementioned classic Kyalami circuit. The course was bought in 2014 by the CEO of Porsche South Africa, Toby Venter, who used his money to redesign and redevelop the course. Lewis Hamilton is one of the many drivers who’d also love to see a Grand Prix back in Africa. Speaking recently, Hamilton explained that a South African Grand Prix is the one he wants to be announced next. He explained that due to his ancestors coming from Africa, it is a race that is very close to his heart. Hamilton isn’t the only one looking at Africa as Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali has also said that there’s a lot of potential to be in Africa soon.
There’s Just One Obstacle In The Way
Kyalami is currently classified as a Grade Two circuit, and it needs to be Grade One to host the Grand Prix. Kyalami was initially redeveloped to a Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Grade 2 standard because a Grand Prix was not the end goal when it was first refurbished. However, circuit bosses were open to the idea and following the F1’s open admission that they’re interested in bringing back the South African Grand Prix, chances are they’ll want to make the necessary upgrades. It’s thought that the main requirements to get a Grade One certification are rather minimal and consist of providing adequate track run-off and the inclusion of impact absorbing TecPro barriers.
The future certainly looks bright for petrol heads in the continent. So keep your eyes on the road, because all signs are suggesting a Grand Prix in Africa very soon.