Kyalami, 2018

F1 return to Africa is “important”, says Hamilton

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton wants Formula 1 to return to Africa, having been absent from the continent since the last South African Grand Prix 27 years ago.

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Comment of the day

Does Formula 1 need to spread itself further around the world?

The F1 calendar is very diverse and dare I say it’s way more diverse than it was 20 years ago.

In the year 2000 there was no races in the middle east, only two in Asia (Malaysia only being added the year before) three in the Americas and one in Australia. That’s only six out of 17 races not in Europe

In 2019 there were 10 out of 21 races not in Europe (11 if you include Russia as it’s not a traditional European grand prix country)

In this 20 year period there have been attempts to bring F1 to places like Turkey and India but for different reasons, it just didn’t stick.

It takes time for different nations to fall in love with motorsport. Yes, there’s not much motorsport in Africa, but I guess they have other interests, and F1 is quite an expensive sport to invite to your country, which is not ideal for all African nations. (but that’s not necessarily going to be the case for ever).
Napier Railton

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63 comments on “F1 return to Africa is “important”, says Hamilton”

  1. I’ve heard Rwanda be called the Singapore of Africa before. Night race anyone? :P

    1. Seriously? Rwanda where, in just 100 days, some 800,000 people were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists.

      1. @gnosticbrian
        That was in 1994. Menzies do have a point though. Rwanda has moved over from the Tutsi genocide and established one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and the world – with low inflation.

        1. “Rwanda has moved over from the Tutsi genocide…” – really?

          Human Rights Watch reported in 2019: “The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and President Paul Kagame continued to exert control over the political landscape in Rwanda, as political opposition leaders have been intimidated and silenced, arrested, or forced into exile…Civil society groups, local and international media, international human rights organizations, and political opponents cannot operate independently or criticize government policy. A Human Rights Watch researcher was denied access to the country in January 2018. That same month, a Rwandan consultant working with Human Rights Watch was detained and arbitrarily held for six days, the first twelve hours of which were incommunicado“.

        2. Rwanda has no capacity to host an event like A formula one race. ..that is a dream only

      2. @gnosticbrian you can’t say tha. you can’t imply black people can be more racist than white people. 250 ethnicities killing each other. In a time the world preaches against racism the world is not ready for big boy talks, I don’t pity Bernie he is doing fine but silence is not the way.

  2. And how many African countries can support an F1 race? Even if they waived the fee, you need to spend many millions to build a circuit or modify an existing one to attain F1 standards of safety. Where is that money coming from when all of these countries cannot adequately feed and provide health care to its entire population? I think the money can be better spent on improving their infrastructure and health care rather than building an F1 calibre circuit. And it still costs a lot of money to hold these events. Do these countries even have 100k+ people that can afford to pay what would be required for the race promoter to break even?

    1. Unfortunately, just like the Middle East there are fairly wealthy oil rich countries that would be corrupt enough to hold a grand prix, I think the greatest candidate for that would be Chad, oil rich with a long serving ‘dicatator’. It might just mean empty grandstands, but could possible attract some oil money.

      1. Libya should’ve been the next African F1 country. Too bad whites destroyed and robbed them.

        1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
          28th June 2020, 14:14

          Whites? I’m gonna rake that as a racist comment and Kieth should delete it. If I said too bad “blacks” robbed them I’d be put on the chopping block.

          1. @canadianjosh that just comes across as trying to stir up even more trouble by deliberately seeking to provoke others with the same sort of incendiary rhetoric.

          2. racecarisracecarbackwards
            29th June 2020, 0:21

            Neither ‘whites’ or ‘blacks’ are racial slurs. They are nearly descriptions of race or ethnic origin.

          3. racecarisracecarbackwards
            29th June 2020, 0:38


          4. @canadianjosh Sorry, my bad. It was indeed happened under the first US ‘black’ president.

        2. Restore the Tripoli Grand Prix? I’m sure Mercedes would welcome that given their trac k record at the event.

        3. @ruliemaulana – You clearly have no idea what you are talking about and have thrown in a racist slur purely because you are a racist. “Too bad whites destroyed and robbed them” – thats just BS. their issues have absolutely nothing to do with whites.

    2. Kayalami anyone?

    3. India & Vietnam can’t adequately feed or provide healthcare for its entire population, but they’ve been able to put on races.

      Just say you don’t want F1 to go to Africa

      1. Blackscorpion
        28th June 2020, 20:00

        I don’t want F1 to come to E. Africa
        In my country we were set to host WRC this year but COVID happened and it’s not a huge eyebrow raiser because there have been rallies held
        But maybe South Africa is the only that can fork out the money to host one without much eyebrows raised
        They have a huge motorsport culture apart from the Dakar Rally in W. and N. Africa and Safari Rally in E. Africa
        I mean they did host a world cup better than 2018 but that’s the world cup
        And weren’t there thoughts on looking at S. Africa in future?
        They’ve hosted before, have a world champion etc

    4. Well you definitely win the Ignorance award for the year …

    5. Ever heard of Kyalami?

    6. @trido Thank you. People that think unfortunately are not given the microphone.

  3. F1 does leave behind things in many countries.
    Debt, for one. Empty and unused circuits with high maintenance costs, also.

    Maybe he (and other champions of the cause) could look to the Buddh circuit in India or even the entire Olympic infrastructure created for the Greece Olympics to see what happens when a sporting event isn’t wanted or supported by a given country and the economy can’t support it.

    Perhaps Hamilton would be willing to finance the upgrades to Kyalami and then the annual running of the event too?
    He can afford to.

    1. Lewis’s sentiments are good. F1 should leave places better than it found them and the sentiment of going to Africa or others to support them is great, not so easy to actualy do, but a nice thought.
      Kyalami in South Afraca as a circuit specificaly could certainly hold an F1 race, just don’t know about the surrounding infratructure and economic situation.

      1. Perhaps F1 (and Hamilton) should just make a donation to the country then?
        Actually help some people who need it, rather than putting on a pointless event only for those who can afford it.

        1. Hamilton already supports some of the less fortunate people in Africa through his Lewis Hamilton Foundation and you seem to be another one who thinks that when he makes a statement it becomes his responsibility to provide the the answer and apparently the funding.

          1. Yeah, I think if he thinks that an issue is worth fighting for, he should absolutely do the fighting himself.
            No point just telling people something’s wrong if you aren’t going to do anything else about it. He’s in a truly fortunate position to be able to share his enormous resources around to those who need them more than he does.

        2. Donations are generaly short term solutions. They do not help build economies and long term growth.
          Please don’t ask me how to do that.

          1. I don’t think holding an F1 race for wealthy businessmen and their friends is going to stimulate an economy either, to be honest.
            A bit of short term tourism and shopping for a week, but then what?
            If it doesn’t work in India, Turkey, or South Korea, what hope has it got in such tiny economies as many African countries?

          2. synonymous, in those examples though, wasn’t the problem that most of those circuits were placed in relatively remote areas with poor transport links and relatively little surrounding infrastructure?

            In the case of South Korea, the track was supposed to be part of a major commercial development – although the site itself was fairly remote former agricultural land on the outskirts of a major port and zone of heavy industry, which is not exactly screaming “tourist destination”.

            Buddh was, similarly, built with ambitions to be part of a much larger commercial development over 5000 acres, which would have a wide range of sporting facilities – an international grade cricket ground, the F1 circuit, hockey stadiums, athletics facilities and more, along with a major commercial and entertainment complex.

            In both of those cases, the circuit itself was never intended to be the sole attraction – it was always meant to be part of a wider commercial hub of mixed developments. The problem, though, is that often the circuit was built first and then the rest of the hub never materialised, meaning you had a circuit that lacked the infrastructure that was meant to provide that wider economic activity.

          3. @anon
            Exactly – F1 didn’t provide the income/interest/growth that was required to fund/justify the rest of the project.

            Sure, Mokpo isn’t the largest city in the world at around ~250,000, but Gwangju (1.5M) is only some 60km away and has a regional airport connecting directly to Seoul. Busan, Daego and Daejeon (3.5M, 2.5M and 1.5M respectively) are all within 250km, with Seoul only about 350km north. Regardless, the fact is that Koreans aren’t generally all that interested in F1 – and that’s ultimately why the event failed to attract funds. So, it’s quite likely that even if the circuit had been built within 50km of Seoul, it would probably have not fared much better.

            India was riddled with financial issues. Apart from the fact that hardly anyone could afford to go to an F1 event, the government saw it as an income stream rather than an investment in it’s culture or tourism.
            Location is quite near to the city (~45km to city center, ~50km to airport), and the local population is enormous at over 21 Million. Much like South Korea, India is not known for it’s car racing culture.

            Compare with Spa, for example. Built out in the mountains, no airports or cities nearby. Still, one of the most popular circuits in the world – because the people in the extended area have long had a motorsport culture, and, more importantly, plenty of spare cash to spend on enjoying themselves.

            Perhaps F1 was simply too expensive for those markets? The motorsport culture won’t come from F1 if nobody can afford to go and see it.

          4. synonymous, that would be the same Spa-Francorchamps that has gone bankrupt twice in the past 20 years and spent most of the past decade being bailed out by the Wallonian regional authorities because the crowds for the F1 races had dwindled below 45,000?

            The Belgian GP has been a financial burden to the Wallonian authorities for quite some time – the 2008 race lost €4 million, and only a few years that that had risen to a loss of €6 million in 2011, €8 million in 2012 and around the same again in 2013, with the Wallonian government having to pick up the bill.

            Around 2007, the Belgian GP was drawing about 62,000 fans over the entire four day race weekend, falling to 52,000 by 2008. For quite some time after that, the official attendance figures put attendance at about 50,000 for the race weekend, dropping as low as 43,000 in 2014.

            You talk about that motorsport culture, but for a long time Spa was relying on being propped up by the Wallonian government because the attendance figures were terrible and people weren’t going to Spa. The crowds might look larger now, but they’re not there because of “a tradition of motorsport culture” – they’re going there because of Verstappen.

          5. @anon
            … Which says much more about the cost of putting on an F1 event, don’t you think?
            If the crowd is getting that low, it’s hardly the circuit’s fault, is it? The F1 show just isn’t good enough.

            Spa attracts (or buys in) many more racing series than Korea or India have access to. It’s not just reliant on F1, as they were.

  4. As I think Lewis intentions are good for the cause of equality He doesn’t take in account a number of issues raised by his statement:
    Last time F1 raced in Africa (south africa 1993) minorities were not allowed to vote. In 1994 vote was extended to all minorities after 45 years of white supremacy ‘government’. When this happened ( what a coincidence…) South Africa stopped hosting F1.

    My thoughts on this:
    1- Unfortunately F1 is a sport for ‘1st world countries’ or for dictator’s countries that want to show off their status as rich countries.
    2- As I commend Lewis for his political views I think he should make a bit of research before talking and understand that some countries need a sustainable economy and not F1. He is not Muhammed Ali.
    3- Being the best in your job/sport doesn’t entitle you to become a know-all person. This applies to every VIP regardless of gender/ color/ sex/religion.
    4- Ecclestone doesn’t make sense at all, surprised how the press keep giving him exposure. He was best friend with Max Mosley, his political views are well known.

    That’s all, now let’s focus on Zeltw… RedBullRing sorry! 😂

    1. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
      28th June 2020, 7:21

      Say it: Österreichring in Zeltweg, thst’s alright! :)

    2. Too be pedantic, in South Africa during apartheid it was the majority that couldn’t vote, and the minority (white people) who held government.

      1. Yes an actual example of systemic racism, apartheid.

    3. “He was best friend with Max Mosley, his political views are well known” – I think that you may be confusing Max with his father, Oswald, the former Labour MP for Smethwick who became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). The BUF advocated a united Europe as its core issue.

      Max Mosley has donated to the Labour Party, and was a supporter of the government of Tony Blair.

  5. I think Lewis’s comments are a knee-jerk reaction to the current climate around the BLM topic and won’t hold much value when the media heat recedes as it always has in the past.
    Let’s be honest about this, motorsport in general and F1 in particular is participated in by wealthy individuals who join an expensive and exclusive circus for the benefit of themselves and by default the promoters. To expect that community to behave charitably and somehow cascade goodwill and practical support to impoverished people is a pipe dream.

    1. A true and very realistic view. Not only that, many other peoples are not interested in motorsport as a general population. Many are more interested in other sports.

    2. Why is it a pipe dream for them to behave charitably? F1 did it for years with GOSH when BE was in charge, and some drivers continue to support them. Ferrari and McLaren in particular have potentially saved thousands of lives with their hospital ICU tie-ups, just one example from Ham would be the Harlem Zone, Alonso with UNICEF. Outside of F1 MotoGP have the Riders for Health; and so on.

  6. The Bubba rope story disgusts me. The owner needs to be held to account for his actions. That must break a law, even in North Carolina, surely?

    1. This owners of this place should be banned from holding any event, ever again.

    2. Look at what nascar determined, no hate crime. People should wait for the receipts before coming to any conclusion.

    3. Yeah, i think losing sponsorship should be the least of their worries for this @sham, @phil-f1-21.

    4. I think they found in the end that it had been there over a year already and wasn’t actually a hate crime.

  7. Has anyone writing off Africa or South Africa ever been here? South Africa specifically Kayalmi can hold an F1 race,the track has recently been taken over by Porsche and upgraded (might need a few more upgrades to get to FI standards) great infrastructure in the area, Hotels, Hospitals etc. and fans will easily sell out the venue. Many big corporate companies will get in board as well.We also did host a successful 2010 Fifa world cup

    1. Peter, somewhat irrelevant to the case you make about bringing F1 back to South Africa (something i would very much like to see), but since you mentioned the 2010 WC i wanted to ask someone local… after 2010, did South Africa actually use (and continue using to this day) all the stadiums they built/renovated for the tournament or some of them are left in despair?

      Genuine wonder form someone whose country built mega stadiums etc for the Olympics, that crippled our economy, without a plan to use them afterwards…

      1. Hi
        All the stadiums that were built are now currently been used for either Soccer or Rugby matches(cricket has thier own stadiums)
        If people are looking for diversity host an FI race in SA and you will see Black, white, coloured, Indian people all coming together as South African F1 fans.

      2. @black I have just finished an assignment where I was exploring the jobs trends in South Africa. In 2008 all job sectors were falling. Then after 2010 there was an increase in jobs which only started flattening recently. My assignment was not to investigate why the trends went up but the presence of the world cup seems an obvious reason. The benefits of hosting it might outweigh the abandoned stadiums left afterwards.

        Kylami looks very good on the track nowadays but there are still a lot of improvements required for an F1 race. Comparing my last visit to Silverstone and the few motorshow events I have attended at Kylami, at minimum

        1.) The road from the (newish) mall of Africa side needs to be redone probably into a dual carriageway. It’s really old, narrow, has lots of bumps and potholes and last time there was an event at Kylami the traffic from that side was really bad.
        2.) The hospitality building is just too small and needs a proper facelift if it’s supposed to host billionaires
        3.) That small grandstand opposite the start finish straight (visible in the picture above) needs to be lengthened on both sides and covering added to it
        4.) The mall of africa parking on the race weekend would need to be closed to all other purposes except the GP and shuttle services be run from there as there won’t be enough parking at the circuit.

    2. Kyalami is not F1 spec. I’ll take about $80million to get it there, money the owner isn’t prepared to spend.
      The circuit was purchased by Toby Venter, not Porsche.
      At F1’s current hosting fee & operational costs, and the exchange rate … there would need to be 100k spectators all paying between R5k & R10k a ticket … that’s not going to happen.
      And every time corporates get involved with something like this, it’s at the detriment of something else. in 1993 local motorsport suffered badly as motor industry businesses opted for corporate bomas at the F1 and cut their sponsorship and product supply to local competitors.

      1. JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – The world-famous Kyalami racetrack has been sold for R205-million at the High Street Auction to Porsche South Africa and its MD Toby Venter – who spoke directly to Wheels24 with his story

        1. Like Venter himself said, it will take us finding oil to be able to invest in something like F1. To get a circuit from FIA Grade 2 to Grade 1 (F1 spec) may only be the final step, but it’s a massive amount of money to get it there, and all circuits at that level have government funding, something that won’t – and shouldn’t – happen in a country like South Africa, especially as debts are spiraling out of control already.

          And that’s before you even start talking about a $50 million plus hosting fee.

          Add that together with Dale’s $80 million, and Kyalami would need $130 million – or R2.2 billion – and you realise how much of an impossibilty it really is.

    3. I am from South Africa and stay about 30km from the track. We absolutely have the infrastructure and hospitality to host a successful race at Kyalami and I for one will love it to have a race here. For us South Africans it is very expensive to travel overseas to go to an F1 race so not many of us can afford a trip like that. I also do IT work for the Hopsitality Industry and I know the positive impact the 2010 WC had on tourism in the Country. People would stay after the WC and go on Safari or come a week or 2 in advance. So yes it would be great.

    4. Good luck folks
      I have been out of South Africa for 20 years, but I would love to see you get a race at Kyalami, I have attended F1 races there as well as 24 hour endurance back in the 80’s.
      Other than visiting family and friends, an F1 GP at Kyalami would be a damn good reason to visit again.
      Would love to see this happen.

  8. Doesn’t Hamilton live in Monte Carlo? Talks about diversity in F1 but chooses to live in one of the least diverse places on the planet.

    I don’t need incredibly wealthy and privileged people lecturing me about morality.

    1. Exactly, he needs his virtue signalling shoving where the sun don’t shine.

    2. Yet here you are reading every word he says; again.

  9. I’d like to know why this is so important? Lewis dreamed big and made it on his talent. So did many others. Senna was extremely popular in Brazil but here we are, we don’t have more Brazilian drivers. There is such a thing as talent, drive and interest along with the opportunity.

    1. to me the most important point of Lewis’ comment is the second part @jabosha. “It’s such an important place to go back. At the moment, Formula 1 goes to countries and doesn’t really leave much behind, if anything. Formula 1 has to shift into being a sport that does go to places and leaves behind something that can really help the communities”

      That is more or less what happened in Malaysia. They build a great track there. But F1 never showed much interest in building anything, just getting their money. And when others came along with deeper pockets, F1 lost interest and Malaysia couldn’t be bothered. Instead F1 should do more ground work to get the locals to be interested and supportive of it.

  10. If they were able to drum enough interest and kept the ticket prices with reach of those who could afford it, I think we’d all be happy to get F1 back to Kyalami.

  11. Louise needs to start driving again…

  12. Alaric Gomes from the caste society of India is the perfect character to write an opinion article on the Bernie racism story.

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