Formula 1 is becoming increasingly global. In the last decade or so the sport has expanded heavily into Asia and the Emirates, and moved away from its European roots. There are now F1 races in China, Korea, India and Abu Dhabi, to name but a few. In 2012, Formula 1 returns to the USA, with a race in Austin, Texas. In 2013, there will be a race in New Jersey. 2014 sees a first race in Russia. With all of the new circuits in the last few years, Formula 1 is now represented on almost every continent.
But where is Africa on the F1 calendar? Until 1993, there was a South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. Before that, there was a Moroccan Grand Prix in the fifties. Africa is now not represented at all.
There has been talk over the last 18 months about a return to South Africa. Bernie Ecclestone commented after the 2010 FIFA World Cup that South Africa was ready for F1. Possible venues include Kyalami (which has been used for international bike racing recently), a street circuit in Cape Town, and a possible purpose-built circuit in Durban.
The local racing scene in South Africa is quite small, compared to what is happening in Europe, and needs an injection of funding and energy to become world-class. A purpose-bult circuit would provide year-round opportunities for local racing to develop.
A street circuit, by comparison, would only be used for racing once a year, but would have the added benefit of bringing racing to the city streets. Racing at a purpose-built venue is often invisible to members of the public who are not already racing fanatics. Racing through the streets exposes the general public to a spectacle that they might otherwise not see at all.
Whichever curcuit option is chosen, Formula 1 would be good for South Africa, and South Africa would be good for Formula 1. South Africa is excited about Formula 1. South Africa has shown with the 2010 FIFA World Cup that it is a country capable of putting on a great show for the world. It is time for Formula 1 to return to South Africa.