F1 targets Africa, in talks over race in Marrakech

Image by Andy Hone/LAT

F1 targets Africa, in talks over race in Marrakech

Formula 1

F1 targets Africa, in talks over race in Marrakech

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Formula 1 is in discussions over hosting a race in Marrakech as it targets adding a grand prix on the African continent in the near future.

At present, F1 races in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, but has not hosted a race in Africa since the last South African Grand Prix in 1993. While a return to Kyalami remains an option for the sport, F1’s managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches says talks have taken place about racing in Morocco.

“We race on five continents and the last habituated continent that we don’t race in is Africa,” Bratches said at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club in London. “We have proactively been approached by Morocco and Marrakech to take a grand prix there. There is a high degree of interest.”

Marrakech already hosts a Formula E race and there was previously an F1 round near Casablanca in 1958, and Bratches (pictured above) says it is one of the sport’s priorities to return to the continent.

“Formula 1 raced in South Africa before – there is a historic track in Kyalami – but I have been told that due to political considerations historically, that ceased. We are looking in the short term to have a race there. It is really important to us to have a race in Africa.”

The return of the Dutch Grand Prix in 2020 was confirmed earlier this week, while Vietnam has also been added to next year’s calendar, but Bratches believes there will be the same number of races next season as this year given the number that are currently out of contract.

“We are optimistic about the prospect of a 21-race calendar again next year. I don’t think we are going to have more than that.”

As well as contracts expiring in Spain, Germany, Mexico and Italy — with the latter saying it is close to signing an extension — the British Grand Prix is also in its last year of the current deal but Bratches is hopeful a new agreement can be reached.

“We will see. We are having productive discussions with multiple parties. Silverstone has been a central and seminal part of the race calendar since 1950. Those discussions are ongoing.”

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