Race in Africa ‘a priority’ for Formula 1 mid-term

Formula 1 has put its return to the African continent among its mid-term priorities according to Chloe Targett-Adams, F1’s global director of race promotion.

F1’s historic South-African venue, Kyalami, last hosted a round of the F1 world championship in 1993. But the sport’s global quest for diversity should extend to its race calendar, as suggested by seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

While there has been talk over the years about a return to South Africa, former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone never succeeded in sealing a deal with Kyalami. But commercial rights holder Liberty Media believes F1’s global status warrants a presence in Africa, and several options are currently under review.

“I completely agree with Lewis, Africa is a continent that we don’t race in, and that is just wrong,” said Targett-Adams, speaking at 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.”

©KyalamiGrandPrixCircuit

Targett-Adams also elaborated on F1’s territorial expansion in America and in Asia.

“Alongside Africa the U.S. remains a clear strategic priority,” added the F1 executive. “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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F1’s global director of race promotion also revealed that Vietnam hasn’t been lost for F1, despite the event – which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic – failing to be put on its rails in the wake of 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.”

©VietnamGP

Despite the current uncertainties lingering over the global economy, Targett-Adams underscored the healthy interest enjoyed by F1 from race promoters around the world.

“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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