x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

F1 could have Cape Town Grand Prix 'within two years'

Officials in South Africa are treating with scepticism remarks from Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights owner, that the country could host a race in two years.

Officials in South Africa are treating with scepticism remarks from Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights owner, that the country could host a race in two years.

South Africa last held an F1 grand prix at the Kyalami circuit, 25 miles north of Johannesburg, in 1993. Although there have since been rumours of a race returning to that part of the world, nothing has ever come to fruition.

Ecclestone, however, has revealed he is now close to concluding a deal for a grand prix to be staged in Cape Town. "We're open and happy to try to do something. I think we're maybe a little bit closer than we have been for a long time," he told South Africa's Eyewitness News.

"As soon as we get a contract in place, which we are working on now, then it will go from there quickly I hope, within two years."

However, doubts have already been raised, due to the amount of money involved and in particular the fact that an event of this kind would need government support.

Esther Henderson, the chief communications officer for Cape Town Grand Prix, told iafrica: "The annual licence fee we need to pay to Formula One amounts to US$40 million [Dh146.8m].

"Infrastructure capital? We could be looking at $15m, and then there is working capital.

"We have investors that are interested, but it is a Catch 22 situation because in order to give our investors security that this is happening, we need our government's support."