Russia alliance costs South Africa Formula One race host

Tuesday June 06 2023

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen competes in the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix race at the Circuit de Catalunya on June 4, 2023 in Montmelo, on the outskirts of Barcelona. PHOTO | AFP


South Africa has lost its bid to host the Formula One race due to its political alliance with Russia.

This is the second time Pretoria missed out on hosting its first F1 Grand Prix in over three decades after negotiations for the 2024 event collapsed.

The idea of Africa staging an F1 event in 2024 gained momentum when seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said he would like to race in South Africa.

Read: The Hamilton effect on F1 following in East Africa

The SA Grand Prix would have seen the racing sport make a return to Kyalami in Gauteng, which hosted the country’s last F1 event in 1993.

And it seems South Africa will have to wait a while longer, with plans to host another F1 race halted due to the country’s relationship with Russia.


It is also worth noting that F1 cancelled the Russian Grand Prix because the nation invaded Ukraine in 2022, a war that is still ongoing.

“According to sources, the decision was taken because South Africa has aligned closely with Russia,” reported.

“The issue for F1’s hierarchy stems from South Africa’s close political relationship with Russia. F1 was forced to ditch the Russian Grand Prix swiftly after the invasion and subsequent ongoing war against Ukraine last year, whilst the FIA put a blanket ban on Russian and Belarussians participating without signing up for a neutrality agreement.

“South Africa’s governance and its alignment with President [Vladimir] Putin’s regime have proven to be an unexpected roadblock despite terms close to being finalised between 777 and F1.

“It is understood a venue hire had been agreed upon - pending a formal signature which ultimately was not forthcoming - with Kyalami renting out its facilities to 777, which would then promote the race,” added the site.

However, the issue is South Africa’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. Pretoria has insisted on taking a neutral stance instead of denouncing Russia or the war.

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of President Putin for forced deportations of children from Ukraine to Russia.

And South Africa, a member of the BRICS bloc, whose other members are Russia, Brazil, China and India, is also a signatory to the ICC and bound to execute the warrant if President Putin sets foot in the country.

But South Africa’s government is expected to provide him with diplomatic immunity when it hosts the BRICS summit in August.

Read: SA skirts Putin arrest ahead of BRICS summit