"We want to have a race in Africa" - F1 chief hopeful of a 'long term commitment' with South African GP

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F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali photographed in the paddocks during the 2022 F1 Australian GP. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

F1 is hopeful of announcing a race in South Africa in the coming weeks after CEO Stefano Domenicali admitted that the sport is keen to return to the African continent.

In July 2022, reports suggested that F1 was considering clearing up its potential calendar to find room for a return to South Africa in the 2023 season by dropping the Belgian and French GPs.

It is no secret that the sport is aggressively trying to expand its footprint across the globe and is actively looking for newer venues while also mulling over the possibility of a 24-race season.

The sport introduced the Saudi Arabian GP last season, the Miami GP in 2022, and has plans to host the maiden Las Vegas GP next year. F1 also intends to bring the Shanghai International Circuit back to the calendar after a three-year absence, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. After hosting one race in 2021, the Losail International Circuit also signed a long-term deal that kicks in following the 2022 FIFA World Cup this winter in Qatar.

Now, Domenicali has dropped the latest hint of a possible race in South Africa for the first time since 1993. In an interview with the Italian affiliate of Motorsport, he said:

“We want to have a race in Africa, and today the most suitable place is South Africa. We have been talking with local promoters for some time and there are good possibilities, but we want a long-term commitment; we don’t like the idea of going to a place for a year and then saying goodbye to everyone. It is a situation that is taking time, but I think we will be able to get clarity in the next few days. What is certain is that we want to make a commitment to go back to the African continent, and we want to go back the right way. I think there will be news within two weeks at the latest.”

"There will be no more racing there"- F1 CEO on the possibility of future races in Russia after Ukraine invasion

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has put his foot down to firmly deny the chance for any race to be held in Russia after their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The war, which started in late February and has continued for six months at the time of writing, has had a major impact on global inflation. This has led to teams on the grid pinching their pockets and seeking allowances in the cost cap. The race that was scheduled to be held in Sochi in September of this year was swiftly dropped in the aftermath of the invasion.

While F1 is open to traveling far and wide to keep bringing the action to new shores, Domenicali is certain they will not be returning to Russia. Simply because it is 'non-negotiable' in the eyes of the Italian despite the pay being better than most venues.

Speaking in an interview with Motorsport-Total, the 57-year-old said:

“I always say that you should never say never - but in this case I can promise: We will not have any more negotiations with them. There will be no more racing there.”

Some might find this stance a bit hypocritical on Domenicali's part considering the multi-year deals the sport agreed with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two nations with questionable track records when it comes to human rights. F1 could also be eyeing two races in China from 2023 after an extended exile from Shanghai owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, overlooking any conflict of interest that may arise.

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Edited by Anurag C
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