Grand Prix return to Africa “a priority” for Formula 1

Formula 1 has prioritised the addition of a race in Africa to its future schedule, according to the executive charged with putting the calendar together.

Grand Prix return to Africa “a priority” for Formula 1

F1 global director of race promotion Chloe Targett-Adams, who deals with event organisers, said that continent is top of the current wish list for new events.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has stressed that Africa is where he would like the sport to go next. Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone tried for many years to find a way to return to South Africa, which last hosted a round of the World Championship in 1993, and that desire has continued under Liberty Media’s management.

While South Africa remains the most likely venue there has also been interest from other countries, notably Morocco, which hosted a race in 1958.

“I completely agree with Lewis, Africa is a continent that we don't race in, and that is just wrong,” Targett-Adams told a Blackbook online seminar. “It's somewhere that we very much want, it's the priority. We've been in talks with possible options for a few years.

“And we're hoping that ultimately, we will be able to achieve a race there in the kind of near to mid-term. Alongside Africa the U.S. remains a clear strategic priority. We've got a great race in Austin now, where we looking forward to working with our promoter hopefully for some more years to come.

“But we're looking at a second race opportunity, a destination location, and looking to build up that U.S. race proposition. Equally Asia, we've made no secret of the fact that that also is a key priority.”

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Targett-Adams insisted that F1 has not given up on the Vietnam GP. The inaugural Hanoi race was postponed last year after the pandemic hit, and it was left off the 2021 schedule after a local political scandal.

“Vietnam is an incredibly exciting race location for F1,” she said. “Hugely young demographic in the country, vibrant business sector, somewhere we're very, very excited to race.

“And 2020 was to be the first race, with an amazing circuit built in the outskirts of Hanoi. And then, totally understandably, no one wants to launch a first race in the middle of a pandemic. We’re working through some localised issues with some change in government going on as well, so we just decided and agreed with our promoter, Vingroup, that 2021 just wasn't the right timing for that.

“So we continue to work through with them, and longer term, we'd obviously still relish the opportunity to have a race in in Vietnam. So we're hoping we'll get there eventually.”

Targett-Adams conceded that the main problem was finding room on the calendar for new and established events.

“We're a global series, we're fortunate that there's a lot of interest," she added. "Equally, there are limited spaces on the calendar. So that's when we look at, without wanting to leave any of the cornerstones of the calendar behind or longer-term relationships, how do we manage that opportunity of bringing on these new locations and being able to reach fans in those areas?

“Which is where the kind of alternation of existing circuits becomes quite an interesting concept. And working through that Africa, U.S. and Asia is where we're wanting to target in terms of new races, at this moment in time.”

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Author Adam Cooper
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