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Lewis Hamilton wants ‘important’ F1 race back in ‘beautiful’ South Africa

The Independent
The Independent
 2021-10-23

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Lewis Hamilton says he believes that South Africa should be the next destination on Formula 1 ’s list as the sport continues to expand its race calendar in future seasons.

The 2022 campaign will see drivers compete in a record-breaking 23 Grand Prix, including a second event in the United States around the streets of Miami, with Africa the only continent (Antarctica aside) which doesn’t host a race.

The seven-time world champion believes that the sport’s owners Liberty Media should focus their attention on South Africa next, for both personal reasons and to serve fans in the region. F1 last raced in the country in 1993, at the Kyalami circuit just north of Johannesburg. Kyalami is currently an FIA Grade 2 circuit, meaning it would need to be upgraded in order to host a Formula 1 race again.

“The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important for me is to get a race back in South Africa,” Hamilton explained at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas ahead of this Sunday’s pivotal Grand Prix. “I think there’s a great following out there and it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is.”

Hamilton also praised the addition of the Miami race to next year’s calendar, as Liberty Media look to grow the sport’s popularity and revenue stateside, and revealed he is open to the idea of a third American event following in future years.

“The U.S. Grand Prix is fantastic and it is such a huge country, having just one race here for sure isn’t enough to really be able to tap into the sporting culture here,” the Mercedes driver said.

“I think definitely you need to have at least two. But there are so many great cities to have a Grand Prix. Miami is incredible as is Austin. I don’t know about the next one but I’m not opposed to that.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also welcomed the notion of a third US event, saying: “I think Formula 1 is getting bigger and bigger in the last years thanks to the Netflix series, and I can definitely feel it and see it,” he said, referring to the streaming service’s Drive to Survive behind-the-scenes series, which launched in 2018.

“It’s great to be here and I would be very happy to have a third race here. And I agree with Lewis on Africa in general,” the Monégasque driver added.

Alpine veteran Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, believes the sport should concentrate on making a success of the Miami race rather than getting ahead of itself. “The US is probably the biggest target for F1 right now with Liberty in charge of the sport,” the Spaniard said. “There are rumours [a third race[ could happen in different places, Las Vegas or Indianapolis or whatever, so let’s see one step at a time. But let’s make a good Grand Prix in Miami next year first.”

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