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06 Jul 2011 15:54
Motorsport South Africa (MSA) said on Wednesday it would only support the hosting of a Formula One Grand Prix event in Cape Town if the organisers met a number of conditions.
One of the provisions, MSA said, would be that South African drivers should either be included in the grid or given the opportunity to do so.
“F1 enjoys very little support in countries where there is no representation,” said MSA chairperson George Nyabadza. “Only when we can wave our rainbow flag will there be public interest and national unity.”
MSA, the controlling body for motorsport in South Africa, said it was aware of a bid from Cape Town, but had no knowledge that a contract was being finalised.
Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 chief, told South African media this week that he was in the final stages of negotiations to bring a leg of the event to the country.
“Mr Ecclestone is notorious for making off the cuff statements to elicit reaction,” MSA said.
The national body said other conditions revolved around the impact the event would have on South Africa’s economy and the amount of money generated for motorsport development, particularly among the “female and black youth segments” of the country.
It would be irresponsible, Nyabadza said, to host an F1 race without investing a portion of the proceeds in these segments.
“There would be no legacy for the sport,” he said.
A South African F1 race, MSA said, could not go ahead without its support, as the national federation would need to inscribe the event onto the calendar of the FIA, the global governing body for the sport.
“The MSA board’s current position is that it would only support the hosting of such an event in South Africa if it provided concrete benefits to the grassroots development of motorsport, which would happen under the auspices of MSA,” the statement read.
South Africa has not hosted an F1 event in 18 years.
The country first held an F1 race in Port Elizabeth in 1934, and the coastal city hosted a leg of the World Championship a further 11 times until 1966.
South Africa’s F1 event was then held uninterrupted at Kyalami until 1985.
After a break between 1986 and 1991, the race returned to Kyalami in 1992, when it was won by British driver Nigel Mansell, and was held again in 1993 when Frenchman Alain Prost secured victory.—Sapa
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