- The reason behind South Africa’s shock exclusion from the 2023 Formula 1 calendar has been revealed.
- Anton Roux, a leading figure in local motorsport, confirms that attempts will be made to host a Formula 1 race in 2024.
- Roux says South African motorsport will benefit greatly if young talent can interact with heroes such as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Local motorsport fans are still reeling from the news that South Africa will not be hosting the 2023 round of the Formula 1 championship. Early indications were that the pinnacle of motorsport would return to the Kyalami circuit next year, but talks broke down, ending any hope of a return.
The FIA, international motorsport’s governing body, and the FOM (Formula 1 Governing Body) have published the 2023 calendar, which confirms a record 24-race season and exclusion of SA. Even by the time next year’s schedule was confirmed, many Formula 1 fans in South Africa were still hoping a miracle could happen.
So what went wrong in SA’s bidding process and can anything be salvaged to stage a race in 2024?
In order for an F1 race to happen, it is necessary to involve several parties and fulfill guarantees – both financial and otherwise. Unfortunately for South Africa, there were holes punched in the bidding process and the negotiation process did not bear the desired fruit.
The seven parties involved in the SA bidding process: FIA, F1, Motorsport SA (MSA), venue provider (Kyalami Circuit), national government (including Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Department of Tourism), local government and local promoter: Association Gran -at SA under Warren Schecter.
READ: SA government ‘didn’t know’ about financial guarantees to make F1 return possible
Anton Roux, chairman of the MSA and a member of the FIA Senate, confirmed to News24 Sport: “The reason F1 will not take place in 2023 is because F1’s designated local promoter has failed to meet financial guarantees.
“The whole problem here is not the fault of the FIA, F1, MSA or the government. This was purely because the local promoter was unable to complete the task. And now we need to replace the local promoter. But I am very sure that we will be on the calendar in 2024.
News24 Sport reached out to Schecter, but he said he was not authorized to discuss the details of the negotiations.
Italian Grand Prix 2022
Benefits of Incorporating 2024
Although it is not planned for next year, Roux is confident that it will be included in the F1 calendar for 2024. Negotiations are already underway between South Africa (as the host country) and potential promoters, and Roux says all the promoters they are talking to have experience of running Formula 1 races.
So when all the cards fall into place and all the role players can get on the same page, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to introduce SA to the 2024 calendar.
While a race on the African continent will indeed make Formula 1 a global spectacle, South Africa’s economy stands to benefit greatly. An economic impact study was carried out to assess the impact of F1 on the country and Roux confirmed that the hospitality and tourism industries benefit the most. Not just Gauteng, but the whole country.
The income from tourism and hospitality will be huge.
60% of spectators attending Formula 1 races are from outside the host country, meaning that South Africa, with its rich tourism culture, will benefit from foreign visitors visiting attractions such as Kruger National Park and the Cape Winelands. And with an average of 70 million viewers tuning in to watch a Formula 1 race (based on 2021 results), South Africa’s global image is sure to improve.
“Another advantage we have in South Africa is that we are in the same time zone as the Europeans,” Roux notes. “So in terms of TV viewers, it’s the place with the most viewers.”
Feeding the bottoms
Although motorsport is alive and well in South Africa, Formula 1 has been a big motivator for many to pursue a career in motorsport. And people like Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were inspirations.
1993, the last time the race was organized in South Africa, is too far in the past for many South Africans to remember, especially the younger generation. In a bar watching Formula 1 races from the comfort of our sofas, young people don’t have many opportunities to talk to the world’s best motorsport athletes.
But in modern F1, new heroes have appeared. And whether they are already involved in motorsport or dream of one day entering it, South African youth need the motivation to see their heroes in person. 2024 could provide such an opportunity and Roux, as a member of the FIA Senate, will want to discuss it.
“We need to create more sporting heroes for our kids to emulate and I think that will be of great benefit to South African motorsport,” he concludes. “Guys need to see Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen so they can relate to them. We need to create an aspiration.”
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