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DATE News (chronologically)
09/16/11
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Cape Town F1 GP just weeks away?  UPDATE #19
Rumored Cape Town track layout.  The proposed 5.3km circuit incorporates Green Point Stadium and several main roads through Sea Point, Green Point and Mouille Point
The Cape Town Grand Prix SA consortium, which plans to host a grand prix in the mother city has signed a strategic partnership agreement with a consortium of business and motorsport professionals headed by Dave McGregor, the former event organizer of the 1992 and 1993 South African Grands Prix.

Having successfully staged two grands prix in South Africa, McGregor has established a proven track record and strong working relationship with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and his team.

“Since our initial talks, it was apparent that the Cape Town grand prix concept not only makes economic sense in a South African context, but it does complete justice to the world-wide spectacle of grand prix racing,” McGregor explained. “Having delivered what the world thought was unimaginable in 1992, we can relate to Igshaan and his team's passion and enthusiasm in turning their vision into reality."

07/06/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.  Just days ago, Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley said formula one should be targeting a race in Africa.

"It's the only major continent that we're not working on and I'd like to see us go back there," he said.

According to reports from South Africa on Wednesday, Bernie Ecclestone is indeed close to finalizing a contract for organizers of an event in Cape Town to sign.

Iol.co.za quotes him as saying the street race could be held within two years, with a deal "weeks away from signing".

"I'm hoping we can make a decision as soon as our lawyers have a good look at them ... within the next couple of weeks," said the F1 chief executive.

"It'll be good to be back in South Africa.  We were very happy when it was here in the past."

The last South African grand prix, at the Kyalami circuit, was won by Alain Prost in 1993.

01/26/11 The proposed 5.3km circuit incorporates Green Point Stadium and several main roads through Sea Point, Green Point and Mouille Point, not to mention the Table Bay Harbour and V&A Waterfront, with the pit lane on Beach Road Green Point. A really cool idea that with a little massaging would be a superb racetrack.

The Western Cape government is yet to officially endorse the bid, said to be 'compiled with inputs from the City of Cape Town, Motorsport SA, (which last year officially distanced itself from any SAGP plans...) Cape Town tourism and Wesgro' with the stated intention of a September 2013 date (right in the rainy season when a March or early April date would virtually ensure a dry race.)

01/24/11 A South African concern, The Cape Town Grand Prix Bid Company, is proposing 5.3km-long street circuit including the city’s most recognizable landmarks, such as the Cape Town Stadium, Table Bay Harbor and the V&A Waterfront. They have been invited by F1 boss Ecclestone to present their project in a meeting that may take place before the Bahrain GP.

Esther Henderson, the company’s chief communications officer, told Cape Argus newspaper, “Green Point is ideal for a street circuit like the one in Monaco because we have so many beautiful natural sights in the area. So while Monaco is the ‘French Riviera’ we can have the ‘African Riviera’ in Cape Town.”

Meanwhile tourism official Alan Winde said there were as many as three different possible bids to host a Grand Prix in the city. “There are a number of companies pushing for this – there’s one at the airport, one towards Atlantis and now this. There is also a fourth bid to establish a ‘green’ race using battery-powered racing cars.”

He added, “I haven’t been approached to endorse any of these bids. But, generally, I think it is something we could put within the strategy of attracting major events. We would support that as a city and province, absolutely. A Grand Prix would profile the city globally very well.”

It is no secret that Ecclestone is keen to have Africa represented on the F1 calendar as he told BBC last year, “Africa is another continent where we should be. Hopefully, now people will think what the World Cup has done for Africa would be good for Formula One. It would be nice to think we had then more or less covered the world.”

The organizers have opted for  a street circuit as it would be far cheaper than constructing a purpose built facility. Henderson pointed out, “Our initial estimates showed that building a track could cost as much as R4 billion while upgrading existing infrastructure to FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) standard was estimated at a cost of about R100 million.”

Henderson said the economic impact of a Grand Prix would be “enormous” adding, “In consultation with Cape Town Tourism we chose to have the race in September which is one of the city’s quieter months. The race also attracts more affluent people to the city which present opportunities for local business to make contacts.”

12/03/10 (GMM)  Moves are still afoot to return Africa to the formula one calendar. In July, as South Africa hosted the football World Cup, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said there are plans for the construction of a new grand prix circuit in Cape Town.

"We have been talking to the people in South Africa for quite a long time off and on.  The chances are ok," said the 80-year-old.

A new report by the German news agency SID said the Cape Town plans are still alive, with the feasibility of the project currently under examination by governmental economic and tourism authorities. The report said the study involves considering whether a bespoke circuit or a semi-permanent venue make best sense for the city.

North of Johannesburg, Kyalami hosted 23 South African grands prix between 1967 and 1993.

04/09/08 (GMM)  A $500m bid to bring formula one back to South Africa is on the rocks, according to a prominent Cape Town politician.

It emerged just over a year ago that a consortium of private investors intended to build a F1-specific circuit near the city's airport.

The leader of the Cape Town caucus, however, claims that the consortium has not received adequate support from the Western Cape premier, Ebrahim Rasool.

"(The investors) are concerned about the Province's evident opposition to the project," Simon Grindrod is quoted as saying by Cape Business News.

It had been reported that the project depended only on the government making the required land available.

"A simple yes or no from the Province would suffice," Grindrod added.  "The investors can then make alternative plans."

He said the government's indecision means that Cape Town is "on the brink of losing the project" as the "frustrated investors" consider taking their money elsewhere.

The last South African grand prix was held at Kyalami, near Johannesburg, in 1993.

03/01/07 A South African company said on Thursday that it was bidding to build a Formula One race circuit near Cape Town's international airport at an estimated cost of 1 billion rand ($137.8 million). David Gant, chief executive of the South African Grand Prix Corporation (Pty) Ltd, told reporters the project had the backing of the South African government but could be scuttled by land problems.

The municipal and provincial governments as well as the company that runs the airport have not yet released the estimated 58 hectares of land needed to build the 5.7 km (3.6 mile) circuit and a 17,500 spectator grandstand. Another 175 hectares also would have to be secured to develop commercial and industrial parks linked to the track.

"They (Formula One) want to have a grand prix in Africa, specifically Cape Town," Gant said. "So if we get the land issue sorted out, I'm pretty confident that during the course of this year we will be able to present a viable license application."

At least one official in Cape Town, one of the hubs of South Africa's booming tourism sector, is supporting the idea of building the circuit, which would accommodate racing cars and motorcycles.

Simon Grindrod, who oversees economic development in the politically-divided city, said he would champion the proposal. The project, however, is likely to be overshadowed by Cape Town's preparations for the 2010 soccer World Cup, which will be played in South Africa. The city is scrambling to modernize its infrastructure ahead of the prestigious tournament. Gant noted that government would not have to provide any funding for the Formula One project because it would be underwritten by overseas developers. "I have no doubt that we will be able to source the capital required to build," he said. Reuters

02/17/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  As we told you on June 3rd below, F1 would not race in Cape Town because the government does not have the money.  However, the F1 media paparazzi continued to play it up.  With Cape Town dead for F1, Max Mosley is now talking about a possible Morocco F1 race - see other rumor. If anyone races in Cape Town it will be Champ Car because their asking price is much less, however, that is a big if as well.

09/19/05 Further details are emerging about the plans for a new racing circuit close to Cape Town International Airport. The plan is to build a circuit on land which lies adjacent to the old South African Air Force base on the north-eastern side of the airport, alongside the Stellenbosch Road and close to the community of Belhar. The circuit will be in a triangle of land and will snake around a central public area. The design has been put together by Hermann Tilke.

The land is currently scrubland and if agreed would form part of an industrial development on the western side of the airport. A road from the circuit would go south and link up with the N2 motorway, which links the airport to downtown Cape Town, about 20 minutes away.

Although everyone seems to be keen on the idea it remains to be seen whether the money needed can be found to sustain an event. Grandprix.com 

08/25/05 Cape Town's bid to land a Formula One race within the next few years could result in the first 'African Grand Prix' being added to the calendar, Autosport-Atlas reports.  Although it had been thought that the consortium planning the race for 2009 was simply planning to resurrect the 'South African Grand Prix' name, the chief executive behind the bid, David Gant, has revealed that they want a new title for the race.

"We are going to call it the 'African Grand Prix, as we are the only [inhabited] continent that doesn't have one," said Gant in an exclusive interview with Autosport-Atlas. (Track map courtesy of Tilke GmbH)

"I think (Bernie Ecclestone's) FOM (company) is demonstrably enthusiastic about coming to South Africa and having an African Grand Prix," he said.  "I think the ball is in our court and so long as we go back with a viable financial model, I see no reason to believe they won't want to be there in 2009. It's ours to lose, I think."

08/08/05 Here is a related article on this subject that has some higher cost numbers. If true, it makes it even less likely the South African government will sign off on a F1 race. 08/07/05 The bid asks for government to contribute 75 million rand ($11.7 million) towards the projected 500 million ($78 million) cost to build the circuit and a subsidy of 50 million ($7.7 million) a year for eight years. "All we have to finalize from a South African point of view is the extent to which the government is going to participate in this public-private partnership," he said. "We hope to have finality on that within the next two months." The total government contribution toward the project will be $73.3 million, though we believe that to be on the low side given today's cost of building a circuit to meet F1 requirements and given Bernie's sanction fee cost, rumored to be at least $15 million per year. We suspect the contribution for a Champ Car race will be about 1/5th that amount. It will be interesting to see how Bernie fits this race in his already too large 19-race F1 schedule. He has already made a commitment in South Korea and talks with Russia, India, Romania, Mexico and Toyota (Fuji) continue.

08/05/05 South African business consortium believes it is on the verge of bringing Formula 1 back to the country that lasted hosted a grand prix back in 1993. The South African F1 bid Company expects to conclude a deal in the next few months with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management, which is responsible for the commercial side of the sport, according to Reuters.

"We hope then to sign a contract with Mr. Ecclestone just before the end of the year which will in turn allow us to host the event starting in 2009," said the venture's Dave Gant. The consortium is hoping to attract government backing to support the bid.

"We have been working on this for about 18 months and each day we get more confident that we are going to pull it off," he added. "Formula One demonstrably want it to happen, they want it to come here."

"The initial agreement would last from the 2009 to 2015 seasons with an option to renew thereafter. All we have to finalize from a South African point of view is the extent to which the government is going to participate in this public-private partnership," he said.

Ecclestone has said previously that he expects F1 to return to the African continent. "We are going to South Africa - it's not a question of if, it's only when," he said last November. "There will be a South African Grand Prix hosted by Cape Town within five years." ITV.com/F1 [Editor's Note: Unless Champ Car adds Cape Town to their calendar in 2006, meaning they sign a contract soon, Bernie may shut them out of the market.  See Champ Car Cape Town rumor

06/04/05 This Grandprix.com article speculates that F1 has a chance now in Durban.  Perhaps they learned that Champ Car has the inside track in Cape Town and F1 can't compete because they are too expensive.  What AutoRacing1.com has learned is that an entity that represents Champ Car in South Africa has bought the rights to the term "South African GP" as well as "Cape Town GP," and more.  If Bernie wants to race in Durban, which is where Champ Car was looking last year until they found out they had no money, he will have to call his race the Durban GP.

06/03/05 AutoRacing1.com sources in South Africa tell us Bernie wants a $200 million commitment from the government and they have rejected it.  They simply do not have that kind of money to throw into Bernie's coffers.  Bernie wants to build a permanent road course outside the city whereas Champ Car's proposal is to run a downtown street race (see other rumor).  Given what we know, it is very doubtful F1 will get a race in Cape Town, but yes, it is 'fact' that they are looking at it.

06/03/05 The first South African grand prix since 1993 took a notable step forward this week. The F1 'Bid Company' has been joined by an investment firm called African Renaissance Holdings.

''We want to be part of this ... project with its unequalled worldwide exposure (and) potential to generate (income) for our economy,'' said chairman Dr Vincent Msibi. South African GP spokesman David Gant has just returned from London where he said Bernie Ecclestone was 'extremely well disposed' to a race.

He added: ''We are probably still looking at April 2008 as the date for the first race. ''(Bernie) would like to finalize things before the end of the year. It really is now up to the government to decide whether they want to support this project or not.''

11/10/04 This race is not dead, but Autosport Magazine reports that the bid for a 2006 South African GP at Cape Town has hit an early funding snag. Promoter David Gant told the South African Sunday Times: “Our first round of talks with the government indicated political will and the potential of financial commitment. Our attempts at engaging in a second round of talks have not been successful.”

11/03/04 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Bernie Ecclestone has announced: “We are going to South Africa – it's not a question of if, it's only when. There will be a South African Grand Prix hosted by Cape Town within five years…three years, tops. It will be good for F1, for South Africa and the city. Plans are well advanced and I believe that the government may well become involved.”

David Gant, spokesman for Omega, told South African newspaper Die Burger: “We have just concluded a constructive round of talks with FOM and have formed the South African F1 Grand Prix Bid Company which will formally apply for the license in the early part of next year. We are currently in continued talks with government in respect of their participation and these are proving extremely positive. We already have a commitment from the private sector for 50 percent of the funds that we require from that source. Circuit designer, Hermann Tilke, will be visiting the proposed site in December and will begin the process of design of the track and infrastructure. Bernie's endorsement and clear enthusiasm for the idea is invaluable.”

10/20/04 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong' today.  The return of the South African Grand Prix to the Formula 1 calendar appears closer than ever – with sport supremo Bernie Ecclestone believed to be ready to give the event the green light at the expense of Silverstone, autosport.com can reveal.  Although Cape Town's bid to host a race has been widely reported in the past, insiders have told autosport.com that Ecclestone is on the verge of giving official approval to the project after meeting representatives of the company bankrolling the project.  A development company, the Omega Consortium, has been pushing hard for the deal and it is understood that they have given Ecclestone enough proof of their intent to put on a race for him to be ready to give them a slot on the future F1 calendar – and perhaps as early as 2006.  And although the calendar is currently packed with events, the continued uncertainty over the British Grand Prix's future allied with Cape Town's willingness to put on a race appears to have swayed Ecclestone's opinion.

Ecclestone himself suggested on Wednesday morning that his frustration with talks over Silverstone's future had boiled over thanks to interest from another country – believed to South Africa.  A site for the South African Grand Prix has already been earmarked near Cape Town airport. The country's government is also being canvassed at the moment to waive its current ban on tobacco advertising to act as a further incentive for Ecclestone.  The inclusion of a new race in South Africa on the calendar, if it came at the expense of Silverstone, would make it incredibly hard for the British Grand Prix to ever find its way back onto the calendar.  Autosport.com

10/04/04 According to David Gant, spokesman for the Omega Consortium which is applying to Formula One Management for the rights to stage the event in South Africa says they are still in line for a race in 2007.  “Following a series of meetings with, inter alia, a number of Cabinet Ministers, Premier Ebrahim Rasool, Cape Town Mayor Mfekete, the DMO, Motorsport SA at National and Local level and various potential stakeholders in the Private Sector, we remain optimistic about our prospects of bringing the event back to our country,” says Gant. “Everyone we have had discussions with recognizes the economic benefits, such as increased tourism, job creation, skills training and industrial development that are associated with staging the event and there is pretty much a consensus that we should make every effort to succeed in our application."

"We are facing stiff competition because a number of countries are very keen to host the event, but we are aware of the very strong support for Cape Town amongst the Formula One decision makers  Nevertheless, even this short respite will not be relevant unless there is real evidence of meaningful progress on a daily basis from our side,” he said. “This implies a substantial measure of decisiveness from the prospective stakeholders, in the main the Government Ministers we have spoken to in respect of conveying our serious intent to Mr. Ecclestone.”

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