Lewis Hamilton’s F1 dream in doubt after 29-year wait as DHL play down ‘speculation’

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LEWIS HAMILTON may have to wait for F1’s long-awaited return to South Africa.

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Lewis Hamilton has been dealt a blow regarding his wish to see F1 incorporate South Africa into the calendar, with main sponsors DHL playing down reports that it could be part of the global circuit in 2023. The sport has not stopped off in South Africa for 29 years, and fans may have to wait even longer despite a series of hints over the past few months. 

Reports emerged in June suggesting that F1 authorities were on the verge of signing a deal to host a race at South Africa’s Kyalami circuit, which has not hosted an F1 Grand Prix since 1993. The venue can hold approximately 100,000 spectators, and it is believed that only minor tweaks would be required to meet safety standards. 

Hamilton openly discussed his desire for the sport to visit ‘the motherland’, stating: “The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important to get a race back is in South Africa. There is a great following out there and I think it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is.”

But DHL – the official logistics partner for Formula 1, released the following statement: “The calendar for 2023 has not yet been announced and speculation around the race is nothing more than that.”

Lewis Hamilton's F1 dream in doubt after 29-year wait as DHL play down 'speculation'

Lewis Hamilton has been a huge advocate for F1 returning to South Africa (Image: GETTY)

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali is believed to have flown straight from Azerbaijan to South Africa for talks last month amid rumours that it could be added to the schedule as early as 2023. Nothing concrete has emerged yet, however, despite Domenicali’s admissions of interest at various points throughout the year. 

“On top of America, on top of China, there is a potential to be in Africa soon. There is a lot of interest there,” he said. “That’s an area that so far is missing in the geography of our calendar.

“It is up to us to try to find the right balance between the historical values of the old and famous European tracks and other destinations across the world. Various promoters have expiring agreements, and some of the current grands prix will probably no longer be part of the calendar.”

Grand Prix in France, China and Belgium are all thought to be under threat beyond the end of this season. 

In a January interview with SPORT1, Domenicali added: “The US is important to us and we are working hard to make Miami a success in 2022. The other region that we shouldn’t underestimate is the Far East, especially with Guanyu Zhou, who now drives for Alfa Romeo.

Lewis Hamilton's F1 dream in doubt after 29-year wait as DHL play down 'speculation'

Stefano Domenicali flew to South Africa for talks earlier this season (Image: GETTY)

“Interest from China is growing, which is why the region will also move into our focus. A comeback in Africa – whether in the north or south – would be great. How quickly this works will also depend on the situation around Covid, We must not continue to underestimate the corona pandemic. We could also have to adjust the calendar again in 2022.”

The update from DHL is not clear evidence that the talks have fallen flat, but perhaps fans may interpret that things are not as advanced as it had been made out in recent weeks. Kayalami hosted F1 races for nearly two decades between 1967 and 1985, and then two more in the early 1990s.  

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