SA will not have a Formula One race in 2023
Rumours of SA returning to the F1 calendar for the first time in 30 years went into overdrive in recent months
SA will not host a Formula One race in 2023, it has been confirmed, after the announcement that Belgium will remain on the calendar in the year.
The sport announced on Sunday that Spa-Francorchamps would host a GP next year after speculation it would be dropped.
Formula One is yet to publish a full 2023 calendar, which is expected to feature a record 24 races. This year’s championship has 22 rounds.
However, Warren Scheckter, CEO of SA Grand Prix, on Monday confirmed that there would be no 2023 event.
“I have seen some of the reports put out, with most of the information being incorrect. Unfortunately I am not at liberty to provide detail, but there will be no 2023 South African Grand Prix,” Scheckter told BusinessLIVE.
An F1 insider earlier told BusinessLIVE that SA billionaire businessperson Patrice Motsepe had agreed to sponsor the $35m (R590m) hosting fee for a local race, but a sponsor hadn’t been found to fund the additional R100m to upgrade Kyalami that the FIA had requested to give the circuit an F1 rating.
Rumours of SA returning to the F1 calendar for the first time in 30 years went into overdrive in recent months, and gathered momentum when seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton stated he would like to race in SA.
Africa is the only continent not to have a race on the F1 schedule.
Hopes were further boosted when Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali visited SA in June to have discussions with local stakeholders, including Kyalami owner Toby Venter. It was reported that Kyalami formed part of the interim race programme for 2023.
The FIA recently visited the Midrand circuit and said new barriers needed to be installed and the sand traps had to be replaced by tarmac run-off areas for the track to achieve the necessary Grade 1 licence.
As the track upgrades would take some time, it was likely that the focus would shift to stage an SA Grand Prix in 2024.
SA last hosted an F1 race at Kyalami in 1993, won by Alain Prost in a Williams-Renault.
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