Lewis Hamilton has once again called on F1 to end a 29-year wait and return to Africa to race. The continent has not held a Grand Prix since drivers competed in South Africa in 1993. Next season, Grands Prix in China, Qatar and Las Vegas will return to the F1 calendar. But there are no races planned in Africa. And Hamilton believes that needs to change. “I think it’s important for the sport to go there,” Hamilton told reporters. “If they’re in every other continent, why not?
The one I really, really want to see is South Africa. That’s the one I want to hear next that gets announced. Ultimately, my ancestors are from there – so that’s why it’s important for me personally.” It’s the second time in a matter of months that Hamilton has made his views clear about racing in Africa. “The place I really feel, to my heart, is most important to me is to get a race back in South Africa,” the 37-year-old said in October. “I think there is a great following out there and I think it would be great to highlight how beautiful the motherland is.”
There are currently no FIA Grade 1 circuits eligible to host an F1 event in Africa, although Automobile Moulay El Hassanthere in Morocco and Kyalami in South Africa are Grade 2 circuits. And Hamilton’s voice will surely only amplify calls for racing to return to the continent. Last month, F1 chief Stefano Domenicali revealed that an African race shouldn’t be ruled out in the future. “On top of America, on top of China, I think there is a potential also to be in Africa soon,” he said. “There is a lot of interest there. For sure, that’s another area that so far is missing in the geography of our calendar.”
Hamilton has endured a miserable start to the new F1 season after cars were redesigned in the wake of a whole host of regulation changes over the winter. The Brit secured a podium finish at the season-opener in Bahrain, but only after Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had been forced to retire late on after power failure.
Hamilton then finished 10th in Saudi Arabia and fourth in Australia. Those results have left the veteran fifth in the overall season standings and he looks unlikely to challenge for the title unless Mercedes can resolve their car issues in time for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.