Bernie Ecclestone has his sights set on Formula One returning to South Africa and believes Cape Town will host a Grand Prix within five years. If a deal is agreed a new circuit is planned near Cape Town's international airport, with Herman Tilke...
Bernie Ecclestone has his sights set on Formula One returning to South Africa and believes Cape Town will host a Grand Prix within five years. If a deal is agreed a new circuit is planned near Cape Town's international airport, with Herman Tilke likely to be the designer. Africa is the only major continent not on the F1 calendar.
"We are going to South Africa -- it's not a question of if, it's only when," Ecclestone told Cape Town's Die Burger newspaper. "There will be a South African Grand Prix hosted by Cape Town within five years."
"It will be good for Formula One, for South Africa and the city. Plans are well advanced and I believe that the government may well become involved."
A consortium headed by businessman David Gant is backing the bid to host a Grand Prix. "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 licence in the early part of next year," said Gant.
South Africa last hosted a Grand Prix in 1993, at Kyalami near Johannesburg. In the late nineties Ecclestone agreed to send teams to test at the circuit during the winter seasons, with a view to F1 returning to race there in 2001, but the Grand Prix never materialised.
Bahrain and China joined the F1 schedule this year, while Turkey is a new venue for 2005. Mexico is also aiming to be on the calendar, starting in 2006. New countries joining the calendar puts further pressure on circuits such as Silverstone, Magny Cours and Imola, all of which are currently only provisional dates for 2005.