South Africa is the latest country to put together a bid for a grand prix in the hope of bringing a race to the streets of Cape Town by 2013.
The Cape Town Grand Prix Bid Company has a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the feasibility of bringing a race to the city’s Green Point coastline, with Table Mountain as a backdrop.
“Green Point is ideal for a street circuit like the one in Monaco because we have so many beautiful natural sights in the area,” Esther Henderson, a spokeswoman for the project, told the Cape Argus newspaper. “So while Monaco is the ‘French Riviera’ we can have the ‘African Riviera’ in Cape Town.”
She said a street circuit would be cheaper than trying to build a purpose-built track from scratch.
“Our initial estimates showed that building a track could cost as much as R4 billion while upgrading existing infrastructure to FIA standard was estimated at a cost of about R100 million,” she said. “The race also attracts more affluent people to the city which present opportunities for local business. To make contacts in consultation with Cape Town Tourism, we chose to have the race in September, which is one of the city’s quieter months.”
However, Cape Town’s executive director of economic, social development and tourism, Mansoor Mohamed, said the costs of the project would have to carefully be evaluated after the city helped host the 2010 World Cup.
“The benefits of F1 look very compelling, however we need to look at the cost of hosting another big sports event and if it is in the developmental interests of the city,” he told Reuters.
The last South African Grand Prix was held at Kyalami in 1993 and F1 has not had a presence on the African continent since. During the World Cup last summer Bernie Ecclestone said he would like the sport to return.
“[Africa] is another continent where we should be,” Ecclestone said. “Hopefully, now people will think that what the World Cup has done for Africa would be good for F1. It would be nice to think we had then more or less covered the world.”
However, the introduction of the US Grand Prix in 2012 and the Russian Grand Prix in 2014 means something will have to give if F1 plans to stick to its self-imposed limit of 20 races per season.