In January of this year, the President and CEO of Formula 1, Stefano Domenicali, had advanced the hypothesis of a return of the Circus in Africa over the next five years. A statement that immediately associated the return of Formula 1 to the famous and historic South African circuit of Kyalami, absent from the top flight since 1993.
Since then, both the South Africa that the entire continent south of the Mediterranean has no longer welcomed a Grand Prix valid for the world championship. The words of the manager from Imola, however, attracted the attention of the organizers and the management of Kyalami, with significant investments for the modernization of the plant and the track which led to the recognition of Grade 2 criteria of the FIA, which then allowed the holding of competitions such as the 9 Hours of Kyalami.
In addition to the classic seat of the South African Grand Prix, there was no lack of alternatives to host Formula 1 in the same country, this time with the creation of city circuits identified in other areas of the nation: among these, two options in the capital Cape Town – specifically in the Waterfront and Sea Point districts – and two others divided between Durban And Elgin.
Regardless of the different hypotheses available, the main candidate to give the “welcome back” to Formula 1 seems to be Kyalami anyway. To confirm this perspective was Warren Scheckter, son of 1979 world champion Jody and above all CEO of the South African Grand Prix, who commented on the current state of negotiations with F1 to bring the track back to the calendar: “Compared to the identified city circuits – he has declared – the most sensible choice remains that of Kyalami, for its history and for its immediate availability to host this event. In recent years, starting with Chase Carey, we have welcomed the leaders of F1 with visits to the racetrack, favoring the meeting of the latter with the members of our Government in order to start negotiations. We have already shown that we know how to welcome major events of international importance such as the Soccer World Cup in 2010, and a GP is what is needed to relaunch South Africa’s image not only from a sporting point of view, but also from a tourist and cultural point of view. We are ready: next year – he concluded – we will again discuss whether to bring South Africa back to F1, with the aim of formalize the return at the beginning of 2023“.
Opened in 1961, the Kyalami circuit officially entered the Formula 1 world championship in 1967, after South Africa had hosted three editions of its GP in East London from 1962 to 1965. Home to thrilling races and, sadly, chilling accidents , the track was included in the calendar from 1967 to 1993, despite having periods of rest. In addition to that of 1981, the longest pause occurred from 1986 to 1991, in a five-year period characterized by protests for apartheid and from the contemporary international boycott for holding sporting events in South Africa. To date, the record of victories on this circuit is shared between Jim Clark and Niki Lauda, both leading the roll of honor with three wins each. The only Italian to have won at Kyalami was Riccardo Patrese, who climbed to the top step of the podium in 1983. Even as far as the teams are concerned, the record of victories is shared between Lotus and Ferrari, both architects of four triumphs each.