South Africa getting serious about F1?

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. South Africa look set to make a concerted effort to bring Formula One back to Africa, and in particular the Kyalami race track. The Gauteng Motorsport Company was launched yesterday with the primary objective of ensuring that South Africa host an F1 race at Kyalami.

Kyalami from the air

The circuit, which is situated between Johannesburg and Pretoria, first played host to a grand prix in 1967, with the last race taking place in 1993.

The circuit is scheduled to hold an A1GP race as well as a round of the World Superbike Championship in 2009, but organizers are hoping to lure back Formula One.

"We are delighted that the day has finally come where we are able to share with you our vision for the future of motorsport in Gauteng, South Africa," Gauteng Member of the Executive Council Mandla Nkomfe said at the launch.

Kyalami in 1978 – Andretti leads Peterson

"Gauteng has the ability and the competency to deliver world class events with excellent facilities and it's high time we bring these events back to the country for our people.

"We plan to have a busy year with many exciting events to look forward to as part of our commitment to develop motorsport in Gauteng," Nkomfe added.

12/02/08 There are reports in The Citizen newspaper in South Africa that a new company called GP Motorsport (which apparently stands for Gauteng Province) has been formed with the goal of bringing Formula 1 back to the country.

According to these stories the ownership of the new company includes the provincial government, which seems to be willing to find the construction of an F1-standard track and pay the fees that are demanded by the Formula One group. Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile, who took office only two months ago, was previously in charge of the province's Finance and Economic Affairs and was the man who instigated the deal to sponsor the Renault F1 team in January 2008. As a result there was a Renault F1 Roadshow on the streets of the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton last summer, at which Nelson Piquet and Lucas Di Grassi entertained a crowd of 60,000 people.

Kyalami today – still needs a lot of work to bring it up to current F1 standards
Paul Josephson/

Mashatile was also behind a deal that will see Kyalami hosting a round of the A1GP Series in February next year. That deal is believed to run for several years.

The aim of all of these projects is to promote Gauteng as an investment and tourism destination.

The government of Gauteng Province believes that hosting world class events will bring in more people and that this will lead to economic growth.

Also involved in the project is Stephen Watson, a former driver who began work five years ago to try to bring open-wheeler racing back to South Africa, initially with a plan to take Champ Cars to a street circuit in Durban. Watson later became general manager of the A1GP Series and the Durban event ended up being for A1 Grand Prix cars.

The story in The Citizen indicates that track designer Hermann Tilke has been to Guateng in the last month and spent three days looking at a disused quarry near Kyalami which is believed to have been earmarked for the project by Mashatile's government.

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