Will the South African Grand Prix return to F1 schedule?

aerial view kyalami south africa grand prix future

One of the big questions in Formula 1 over the past couple of years has been whether the South African Grand Prix will finally return to the schedule.

The bid to get the race to return to the schedule has certainly been aided by the support that it is getting from multiple-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The British driver has revealed that he has opened a dialogue to get a race back to the country, and there are reportedly talks underway that could see the nation stage a regular race on the Formula 1 schedule, enabling bettors at paridirect.com to make wagers on the action. However, that isn’t expected to be until 2024 at the very earliest.

South African Grand Prix History

For many of the new F1 fans that were born following the success of ‘Drive to Survive’, may not have been aware of the prestige of the South African Grand Prix. However, it was first staged on the schedule between 1934 and 1966, with F1 picking up the race in the 1960 season.

The race entered the F1 world championship calendar two years later and it quickly became one of the most popular races on the schedule.

The first races were held at the Prince George Circuit, with Graham Hill claiming victory in the very first world championship race in 1962. Meanwhile, the same track hosted the race once again in 1963, 1965, and 1966, before it was moved to the Kyalami circuit in 1967.

The circuit remains a historical home for the 1968 race, which would see Jim Clark break the long-standing record of race wins held by Juan Manuel Fangio. However, it would be his last F1 victory as he was killed in a race at Hockenheim later in the season.

The early 80s were all about the dominance of the Renault team, with Alain Prost claiming victory in the 1982 edition of the race. However, things began to turn sour from the 1985 race.

1985 South African Grand Prix

Senna-Prost-Schumacher-at-Kyalami south africa

By the time the 1985 South African Grand Prix came around, there were a number of nations boycotting sporting events in the country because of the state of emergency declared by the government.

This was down to the surge in violence following the racial segregation known as apartheid. However, the Grand Prix went ahead, despite many nations banning their drivers from taking part.

Among those was Prost, who raced in South Africa after winning the championship due to the fact that he was competing for a British team. The race was won by Nigel Mansell, but quickly after the race, it was revealed by the FIA that the Grand Prix would not be returning to the county because of apartheid.

Return To Calendar

Following the end of apartheid in 1991, F1 formally announced its return to the country from the 1992 season. Both races in 1992 and 1993 were staged at the Kyalami circuit. The first race on its return was won by Mansell. However, the following year saw a tense battle for victory between Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Prost, with the latter eventually taking the victory.

But, the 1993 edition of the race would be the final time that it was held, as the track was sold to the South African Automobile Association.

They then deemed the Grand Prix too expensive, meaning that F1 wouldn’t return. Unfortunately, the 1993 race remains the final South African Grand Prix, and it is also the latest race to have taken place in the continent of Africa.

Final Thoughts: Potential Return

With new additions being made to the Formula 1 calendar, fans have already speculated whether the South African Grand Prix could be the next race that we see return. It has been an extremely long time since the race was previously held, but the South African teased in 2018 that there is a possibility that the race could return.

However, the same issues that saw the race leave the schedule remain, as there are concerns surrounding the cost of the event.

Furthermore, organizers don’t believe that they currently boast a track that meets the FIA requirements for a Formula 1 circuit. But, a potential return of the South African Grand Prix could be edging closer, as talks are reportedly underway between the FIA and organizers, and that could mean that the race may return in time for the 2024 season.

But, that could be extremely damaging news to the Belgian Grand Prix, which was under threat last year.