F1 Rumors: Lewis Hamilton’s Yearslong Dream Shattered by Money and Politics Surrounding F1, Claims F1 Champ.bb

The 2024 Formula 1 season is going to have a record-high 24 races on the calendar. Yet, there is no sign of the sport visiting Africa anytime soon. In fact, the sport hasn’t held a race in the continent since the South African Grand Prix at the Kyalami Circuit in 1993. Lewis Hamilton has recently been advocating for F1’s return to the continent, citing his dream of racing in Africa before he eventually hangs up his helmet. He would have gotten his dream race in 2024 if the negotiations between F1 and the circuit officials and other stakeholders had not gone sour in 2023 due to political and financial motivations.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes that Formula 1 and motorsport, in general, should pay more attention to bringing the racing action in Africa. Which is why F1 was negotiating a deal for the return of the South African GP. However, according to 1979 F1 world champion, Jody Scheckter, the deal went sour once the Kyalami official unexpectedly changed the terms of the deal.

Jody Scheckter explains why Lewis Hamilton might not realize his dream of racing in Africa

South Africa was already under scrutiny for not condemning the actions of Vladimir Putin, as Russia waged war on Ukraine. With the added financial burden and altered terms, F1 decided to postpone the negotiations to wait for a better opportunity. F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated that the sport needs stability and the right partners for the deal to materialize.

Scheckter, who was closely involved in the negotiations, recently opened up about the events that led to the fallout of the deal to race at Kyalami in 2024. Speaking with Eddie Jordan on the Formula For Success podcast, Scheckter said, I think it could have happened last year. My nephew, who had spent… 3 years talking to the government, getting everything in place, and they were going to run in Kyalami. Formula 1 came down there nearly to sign it up as I understand. And the guy [at] Kyalami said No! I want this much money and I want to do this and I want to do that and the government as I understand saw the friction… and backed away from it. It was that close to happening.”

According to Scheckter, the Kyalami track demanded a steep price of $2 million for promoters to use the facility. Initially seeking $500,000, the track’s representative escalated the figure, aiming to seize control of the entire deal. Currently, F1 has halted the contract negotiations until 2025 at the earliest. This setback means that the Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton will need to wait until 2026 to have his dream race in Africa.

However, F1 is taking other measures at the grassroots level to promote motorsport activities in Africa with their new initiatives.

FIA President reveals plans to bring back motorsport to Africa

Speaking to motorsport-magazin.com, Mohammed Ben Sulayem highlighted FIA’s efforts to strengthen local motorsport clubs in Africa by introducing initiatives like “Motorsport in a Box.” This initiative provides simple equipment to conduct speed tests, emphasizing the importance of growing motorsport from the grassroots level.

“We have very good contacts in Africa. There should be more focus on Africa… We are strengthening the local clubs there,” said Ben Sulayem. “In some regions, we start at the grassroots. We call it ‘Motorsport in a Box’. This is a box you get from the FIA. It has very simple equipment in it, like timing and phones. At least then you can do speed tests.”

He also emphasized the importance of working their way to the top step by step. “I cannot give orders. The water does not flow down here. It is the other way around. It goes from the bottom to the top. You have to start at the bottom. That is why we have recently launched ‘Motorsport in a Box’. We are sending it to them and we are going to get them involved in motorsport.”

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