Jody Sheckter has revealed that South Africa came close to a Grand Prix return in 2023, but the opportunity was lost when the organiser’s “greed” pushed Formula 1 away from the negotiating table.
Rumours intensified of Kylamai’s return to the F1 calendar in the summer of 2022 but a deal, which was close to completion, fell apart due to fee charges.
Formula 1 has been open about its ambitions to return to Africa with the continent absent from the sports calendar for 30-years.
1979 World Champion Scheckter has revealed that a deal was to be signed between Formula 1 representatives and Kyalami but a last-minute push for more money ended negotiations.
“I was an inside part of it, my nephew worked on it for six years,” Scheckter told TotalMotorsport.com. “It was that close. The guy from Kyalami went from 500,000 to 2 million, and he wanted to take the whole thing over.
“F1 came over to sign. He had got government backing, some of the wealthiest people in South Africa behind it. Everything was in place, and the guy from Kyalami got greedy.
“Just as soon as F1 left, he changed the whole thing completely. The government realised there was a fight and withdrew, and that was the end.”
Scheckter’s nephew, Warren had been working on the deal for six years to get the backing required to make a South African GP a reality.
“My nephew had been working on it for six years, nearly full-time.
“Because going [through the] government and getting [their support] and for them all to agree to put some budget in and then to secure the money. It takes a massive amount [of effort].
“All of a sudden, it was over, and he was left with nothing.”
Despite the setback, interest in a race in Africa remains high. The team behind the bid are now focussing on bringing sponsors on board for a potential race in 2024.
Forget Kyalami, 💤🛌
F1 is coming to the streets of Soweto!
I’m glad they pulled out. My question is though, why South Africa?
Why not Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya or other African country, that could also benefit from an F1 Grand Prix?