South African Grand Prix Rumored, Will Formula 1 Return to a Global Sport?

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For some motorsports fans, they can regularly find a race at Pocono Raceway to enjoy. But if you want to enjoy the fastest motorsport on a global scale, race fans must turn to the Formula 1 World Championship.

Formula 1 is one of the few sports that is truly global and has long been called the “pinnacle” of auto racing. Well, Formula 1 is not entirely global yet: while you can stream Formula 1 on F1TV from anywhere in the world, there are only so many races on the calendar, and not every continent has a race.

That could change in 2023, with the re-addition of the South African Grand Prix.

Currently, no other sport travels more miles than Formula 1. The 2022 Formula 1 season is a globetrotting marathon scheduled for 22 races in 19 countries on five continents. Considering there are no motorsports or permanent citizens of Antarctica, that leaves Formula 1 with one continent to hold a race to truly become a global sport: Africa.

It’s been a while since Formula 1 cars raced on the African continent, with the last race run in 1993. If paddock rumors and Formula 1 “insiders” are correct, this will change in 2023, with the inclusion of the South African GP

A Short History of the South African Grand Prix

The first South African Grand Prix was held in 1934 and was won by American Whitney Straight. After a 19-year absence from competition, Belgian Paul Frère and British driver Stirling Moss won the South African Grand Prix when it returned for two races in 1960.

They debuted on the newly-built Kyalami Circuit: the same circuit to be used in Formula 1’s return to South Africa. These races were not actually a part of the Formula 1 World Championship.

The First South African Grand Prix included in the Formula 1 Calendar was held in 1962 and won by British motorsport legend Graham Hill. The South African Grand Prix was held every year from 1960-1985, with one exception in 1964.

From 1985-1992, the South African Grand Prix remained off the Formula 1 calendar until returning for two races in 1992 and 1993, with both races being won by legendary Formula 1 drivers in Williams race cars: Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Alain Prost in 1993.

Something’s Got To Give: Formula 1’s 2023 Schedule

For a South African Grand Prix to join the Formula 1 calendar and make the championship a truly global sport, something’s got to give. There are currently 36 circuits in 46 total track layouts available that have been graded for Formula 1 action.

With Formula 1 currently aiming for a 23-race season in 2023 and agreements in place to race in Las Vegas starting in 2023, the available spots on the calendar are limited. There have been rumors of different scheduling strategies and potentially rotating races in and out of the schedule.

Will Formula 1 move the Monaco Grand Prix – the “crown jewel” of auto racing – from its traditional sport on the motorsport’s calendar to a rotating schedule to fit races in places like South Africa or Qatar onto the schedule?

Only time and money will tell us the answer. But what we can say is that with a 23-race schedule and increasing interest in everything Formula 1, the competition to hold a Formula 1 race is going to increase. Something may have to give for the South African Grand Prix to return to the Formula 1 Calendar.

Will There Be a South African Grand Prix in 2023?

Recent reports of the return of the South African Grand Prix were issued with the statement that Formula 1 global sponsor and logistics delivery partner, DHL, had agreed to a multi-year agreement to bring Formula 1 back to the African continent.

DHL refuted these reports, stating that the 2023 calendar had not been announced, so anything about agreements for the South African Grand Prix is purely speculation.

This is not an outright denial from DHL of the agreements. Nothing is official until it is announced. But Formula 1, the FIA, and DHL will all have to agree to financial terms to physically get the Formula 1 paddock to the African continent.

Formula 1 is currently working under a cost cap, and teams are struggling to stay under that cap with the increasing cost of logistics from inflation. So not only will Formula 1 need to find a place on the schedule for the South African Grand Prix, but they also need to figure out the addition to their already demanding global-scale logistics and the financial workings to make the race a possibility.