Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been “pushing a lot in the background” to try and get a South African Grand Prix added to next year’s race calendar.
The last South African Grand Prix was staged in 1993 at Kyalami and was won by Alain Prost. It emerged last year that F1 was considering a return to South Africa, with CEO Stefano Domenicali saying: “South Africa? They want to return, not for 2022 but we are in talks for 2023 or after that.
“There are other possibilities in North Africa, along with other countries that are making a bid to be part of F1. This means that F1 is a platform that attracts a lot of attention, both in terms of sporting emotions and commercial benefits, which is a comforting sign given there are people that say it isn’t followed around the world.”
With the F1 calendar set to expand to a record 24 races next year, a return to South Africa was reportedly on the table. And Hamilton believes the calendar ‘needs’ a race in South Africa.
Speaking at the Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “I’ve been pushing a lot in the background to get the Grand Prix there. I’m happy with the talks that have been [happening], and Stefano [Domenicali] has been doing an amazing job trying to get it to happen.
I’m still hopeful that there might be a race next year, you can never say never. As long as we get to get it on the calendar, [I’m happy]. We need to have a Grand Prix there.”
However, RacingNews365 report that talks about a return to the Kyalami track have collapsed. The report states that F1 remain ‘determined to stage a race in Africa’ and are hoping to add one to the 2024 calendar.
It is also claimed that this is the reason behind the Belgian Grand Prix remaining part of the next year’s F1 calendar, following rumours it could be dropped. F1 confirmed before this year’s edition that the race would remain for at least one more year, with Domenicali telling Sky Sports: “The Belgian GP will be in the calendar of 2023. We have to be very, very happy to share that information, and we have to congratulate the job they’ve done.
You’ve seen the investment that they did, you see the number of people that are coming here. We always said that the races that are a part of our tradition have a very important space in the calendar, and this is a fact that we wanted to share.”