Local motorsport fans are still reeling from the news that South Africa will not host a Formula One race in 2023. Early indications suggested that the pinnacle of motorsport would return to the Kyalami Circuit next year, but negotiations fell through, effectively killing any hope of a return.
The FIA, the governing body of international motorsport, and FOM (Formula One Management) have released the 2023 calendar, confirming a record 24-race season and SA’s exclusion. Even after the schedule for next year was announced, many F1 fans in South Africa remained hopeful that a miracle could occur.
So, what went wrong in South Africa’s bidding process, and can something be salvaged to host a race in 2024?
“The reason the F1 event is not taking place in 2023 is because the F1-appointed local promoter was unable to deliver on the financial guarantees,” said Anton Roux, chairman of the MSA and a member of the FIA Senate.
“The entire issue here is not the fault of the FIA, F1, MSA, or government.” It was entirely due to the inability of the local promoter to deliver. And we now need to find a replacement for the local promoter. But I am confident that we will be on the calendar in 2024.”
Scheckter was contacted by News24 Sport, but he declined to comment on the specifics of the negotiations.
Providing for the grassroots
Though motorsport is alive and well in South Africa, F1 has served as a major motivator for many to pursue a career in the sport. Men like Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and Alain Prost served as role models.
The last time a race was held in South Africa was in 1993, which is too far in the past for many South Africans, particularly the younger generation. Apart from watching Formula One races from the comfort of our couches, there are few opportunities for young people to interact with the world’s top motorsport athletes.
But there are new heroes in F1. And whether they are already involved in motorsport or aspire to be, South African youth require the motivation of seeing their idols in person. Roux, in his capacity as an FIA Senate member, may want to address that opportunity in 2024.
“We need to create more sporting heroes for our children to look up to,” he concludes, “and I believe that will be a big benefit to South African motorsport.” “The guys need to see a Lewis Hamilton or a Max Verstappen so they can relate.” We need to instil hope.”