July.06 – The F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone may think that he is “weeks away” from bringing Formula 1 to Cape Town but Motorsport South Africa is not so convinced. According to reports in the local press, Bernie is eager to bring the sport back to the country that first hosted a grand prix in 1934.
“I’m hoping we can make a decision as soon as our lawyers have a good look at them… within the next couple of weeks,” he is quoted as telling Eyewitness News.
But, Eccelstone’s plans have two major stumbling blocks: a lack of finances and resistance from the national motorsport board. Cape Town Grand Prix South Africa group have confirmed that they are in discussions with Ecclestone but that due to the huge financial requirements, government support of the project is essential.
“The annual license fee that we need to pay to Formula One amounts to $40-million. Infrastructure capital? [We] could be looking at $15-million. And then there is working capital,” Chief Communications Officer Esther Henderson told iafrica.
“We have investors that are interested but it is a catch twenty-two situation because in order to give our investors security that this is happening, we need our national government’s support,” she added.
The required government support seems unlikely considering that Motorsport South Africa have stipulated that they will only give the project the green light if some rather outlandish requirements are met. One such requirement is that a South African be included on the grid or given the opportunity to race.
“F1 enjoys very little support in countries where there is no representation,” said MSA chairman George Nyabadza. Only when we can wave our rainbow flag will there be public interest and national unity.”
“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,” he added.