Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Nigeria have expressed interest in hosting a Formula One race, commercial managing director Sean Bratches said on Thursday.
Bratches said they are considering a return to the African continent and are having discussions on the possibility of staging a race in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh and South Africa’s Kyalami circuit.
‘‘We’ve been having very productive conversations in South Africa and to a lesser extent in Morocco about bringing a grand prix… we’re on it. It’s really important to us,’‘ Bratches said at a Sport Industry Breakfast Club event.
Morocco and South Africa have hosted world championship grands prix in the past, Casablanca in 1958 and South Africa in East London in the 1960s and Kyalami 20 times between 1967 and 1993.
“We race on five continents now and the last habitable continent that we don’t race in is Africa,” said Bratches.
‘‘It’s a marketplace in which we would like to race.’‘
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Bratches said there was a “high degree of interest” from Morocco in a circuit race in Marrakesh, with the authorities seeing Formula One, owned by U.S.-based Liberty Media, as an economic engine for growth and tourism.
The all-electric Formula E series already holds an annual street race there.
“The vast majority of our grands prix are underpinned by government and it’s because it works. We shine a bright light on these cities,” said Bratches.
Rwanda’s Arsenal advantage
Yath Gangakumaran, Formula One’s director of Strategy and Business Development, told reporters that Rwanda and Nigeria were also keen to be involved in fan events.
“I think Rwanda in particular have seen the benefits of the Arsenal sponsorship deal,” he said. The Premier League club has had a ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on players’ left shirt sleeves since last year.
“There’s a lot of interest not just for races but for actuations throughout the continent.”
Next season will see two new grands prix added to the calendar, with the return of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort after a 35-year absence and the debut of Vietnam, but Mexico, Spain, Germany and Britain are out of contract at the end of 2019.