THE FIA approved a record-breaking 24-race calendar for the 2023 season on Tuesday.
The FIA have failed to grant Lewis Hamilton’s wish of a Grand Prix on the African continent despite having reportedly sent officials to South Africa earlier this year for talks over a possible event in Kyalami. Formula One has not stopped off in Africa for almost 30 years but it has been suggested for some time that a return to the F1 calendar may be on the horizon in the not-too-distant future.
Lewis Hamilton has expressed his desire to compete in South Africa on a number of previous occasions, with Kyalami having been tipped to stage an event at some point over the next few years. The Mercedes driver will need to wait for at least another two seasons, though, with the proposed Grand Prix not included on the schedule for 2023 that was approved by the FIA on Tuesday.
A record-breaking 24 races will be held over the course of next year, with the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix serving as the standout addition to the calendar. The Chinese Grand Prix will also return to F1 after a three-year absence, while Qatar will stage an event after hosting a race for the very first time in 2021.
There is no room on the calendar for South Africa, though, with the FIA having overlooked the possibility of going back to Kyalami until 2024 at the very earliest. The governing body did send a delegation to the country for talks back in July, according to RacingNews365, but it is said that the Kyalami circuit would need to make a number of alterations in order to be considered for the required Grade One licence.
Plans for a South African Grand Prix were reportedly shelved after the government only issued assurances and not guarantees over whether the changes would be made in time for a race to be held in 2023. The improvements have also been estimated to cost upwards of £13million and there are still believed to be questions over who would be responsible for paying the necessary fees to get the work done.
It remains to be seen whether the South African Grand Prix will eventually make a long-awaited return to the F1 calendar, with the last race at Kyalami being won by four-time world champion Alain Prost in 1993. Hamilton has taken it upon himself to lead growing calls for the event to be reinstated over the last few years in order to ensure that Africa is represented in F1 once again after nearly three decades.
“I’ve been pushing a lot in the background to get the Grand Prix there,” the Mercedes driver told reporters at Spa-Francorchamps back in August.
“I’m happy with the talks that have been [happening], and Stefano [Domenicali] has been doing an amazing job trying to get it to happen.
“I’m still hopeful that there might be a race next year, you can never say never. As long as we get it on the calendar, we need to have a Grand Prix there.”