Ben Sulayem wants 'more attention' placed on F1 return to Africa

© XPB 

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes its time for the world of motorsport and F1 in particular to place “more attention” on Africa.

Despite this year’s global 24-race calendar, Africa remains the only continent not to host a round of the Formula 1 World Championship.

Once a popular fixture on Grand Prix racing’s agenda, the South African GP at Kyalami got the boot after its event in 1993.

Formula 1 was close last year to sealing a deal with the Johannesburg venue, but a change of promoter coupled with political and financial reasons scuppered the plan.

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Despite the setbacks faced in the past, the FIA remains committed to bringing Formula 1 back to Africa by strengthening its relationships with motorsport organizations across the continent, developing local talent, and investing in infrastructure that will support world-class racing events.

“We have very good contacts in Africa, more attention should be focused on Africa,” Ben Sulayem told Motorsport-Magazin.

“We have a good vice president in Africa, we are strengthening the clubs there.

The start of the 1993 South African GP - ©PaulHenriCahier

“In South Africa, they have a lot of history in motorsport. Since last year, there has been a lot of talk about Formula 1 coming back to Kyalami. That would be a big thing for Africa.

“We are also thinking about an electric championship that would like to have Africa involved. That would be good too.”

Ben Sulayem revealed how motorsport’s governing body is approaching its mission in Africa at a grassroots level.

“We call it ‘Motorsport in a Box’, this is a box that you get from the FIA,” he said. “It contains very simply equipment such as timing and telephones. Then you can at least do speed tests.

“If we want to grow there, we can’t do it from above. I can’t give orders, the water doesn’t flow downwards here. It’s the other way around, it goes from the bottom up.

“You have to start at the bottom. That’s why we recently launched ‘Motorsport in a Box’, we’re sending it to them and we’re going to get them involved in motorsport.”

Last month, seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton said that he is still pushing for the inclusion of a race in Africa, an endeavor also supported by F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“This sport is growing massively,” Hamilton commented last month. “ I’m on to Stefano because I really want to get the race in South Africa or in Africa.

“So if it’s not South Africa, it will be somewhere else there hopefully, because we’re on all the other continents.”

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