Support for South Africa in F1 enlargement

Kyalami has been marked as a potential F1 venue

Lewis Hamilton has highlighted South Africa as the ideal country to host a round of the Formula 1 World Championship.

The sport is currently on something of an expansion drive, with new events joining the calendar this year and next.

There has also long been talk of F1 returning to Africa after visiting the continent for the 1993 South African Grand Prix.

With the exception of Antarctica, it stands today as the only continent not to host a round of the World Cup.

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has suggested the sport could return there in the future, highlighting Kyalami as its most likely destination.

In a speech on CNN in September, the Italian confirmed the interest of Kyalami, who has played the sport 20 times from 1967 to 1993.

“Of course we have discussed with them to see if they are ready from the technical perspective, the financial perspective, to be inserted in the calendar, so discussions are there,” Domenicali said of a potential return to South Africa.

Hamilton has now added his support to the idea as he is asked where he would like to see the F1 race in the future.

“The place that I really feel is close to my heart, and the most important thing for me is to get a race back in South Africa,” said the seven-time world champion.

“I think we have a large following out there, and I think it would be great to be able to highlight how beautiful the motherland is.”

His comments came after suggestions that F1 is looking to add a third race in the US.

F1 drove in Texas on the Circuit of The Americas last time-out, and next May Miami welcomes on the calendar for the first time.

There is now talk of another race being added, with a contingent of Las Vegas officials present at COTA.

The US has traditionally proved difficult for European motorsport to break into, although many consider this year’s US Grand Prix to be something of a watershed moment.

F1 is now owned by Liberty Media, a US organization, while there is growing US interest on the web.

Williams is owned by US investment firm Dorilton Capital, while Netflix is ​​credited with helping open up the US market through Run to survive series.

As the sport seems to be hitting its growing popularity in the state, it comes at a time when visitor numbers in Las Vegas have stagnated.

In 2019, the city of Nevada welcomed 42.5 million visitors, a figure that dropped to 19 million last year.

Although this figure has risen again this year, it is still well below the most recent non-COVID-affected period.

There are therefore motivating factors on both sides to make the event happen, also with the support of the teams and the drivers.

“The American Grand Prix is ​​amazing and it’s such a big country that having just one race here is definitely not enough to really be able to take advantage of the sports culture here and really encapsulate the fans and get them on the journey with us”, Hamilton remarked.

“I definitely think you have to have at least two, but there are so many great cities to have a Grand Prix.

“Miami is going to be incredible, just like Austin.

“I do not know where they want the next one, but I am not opposed to it.

“I think it’s pretty cool to have some kind of small mini-championships on these continents, I don’t think that’s a bad thing for the sport.”

Daniel Ricciardo is also in favor of more racing in the US, although it jokingly suggested that a race in Las Vegas could result in a few drivers going AWOL.

“I say the more the more fun, but we obviously have a pretty busy calendar as it is,” he began.

“Of course, I very much welcome Miami next year.

“Vegas, I mean, it could be that it could be really cool, too,” he added.

“We are not convinced that all drivers would show up, so this is a good one for reserved drivers!

“Pay attention to Vegas, you might get your chance!”

Ricciardo has made no secret of his penchant for racing in the United States, taking a Texan accent during press interviews and embracing culture throughout the U.S. Grand Prix weekend.

“I do not know, for whatever reason I love it,” he said.

“I love the atmosphere and it’s just a good laugh. I’m always fine here.

“It’s not just Austin. I’ve tried Miami a few times and it’s been fun too, and there are a lot of states and cities that I have not yet visited in the United States, so I’m sure there is more to discover.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, is also in favor of more racing in the United States, though he suggested he should carry some personal luggage to drive in Vegas.

“I once had a great weekend in Vegas, and after that I thought ‘never again,'” he said.

“But I may have to eat my words and I would be happy now to go back, it is already many years ago.

“Honestly, for my part, it would be a good thing to have more races in the United States,” he added.

“I can see the huge difference in recent years in how popular Formula 1 has become in the United States, and many more people recognize the sport.

“It’s definitely growing, and so yes, I’ll happily go to Miami and even Vegas, if that’s the case.”

Even Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was on board with an expanded US presence, though he also shared Hamilton’s broader view of F1’s expansion.

“I would love to have a third race in the United States,” he said.

“I think Formula 1 is getting bigger and bigger in recent years, thanks to the Netflix season here, and I can definitely feel it and say it, and I love this, this country, too.

“I will be very happy to have a third race here.

“I agree with Lewis on Africa,” he added.

“Overall, it would be great to have a race there.”

Formula 1 is set to take in 23 races across 36 weeks in 2022, the busiest season in the sport’s more than seven decades of history.

An aerial view of the Kyalami orbit

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