Tuesday, September 28News That Matters

F1 will return to Africa in the next five years, CEO Stefano Domenicali lifts lid on sport’s plans

Formula One’s new chief executive Stefano Domenicali has revealed all regarding the sport’s exciting plans for the future – including when Africa will return to the F1 map and his hopes for female drivers.

During a social media video on F1’s official website, Domenicali answered fans’ burning questions during a game-show style Q&A.

When asked whether there will be a race in Africa over the next five years, the CEO admitted that there would be.

Stefano Domenicali has revealed all about Formula One's exciting plans for the future

Stefano Domenicali has revealed all about Formula One's exciting plans for the future

Stefano Domenicali has revealed all about Formula One’s exciting plans for the future

South Africa last hosted an F1 race in 1993, at Kyalami, when it opened the season in mid-March with Alain Prost reigning supreme for Williams ahead of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

The race then folded due to financial reasons but South African GP, a company chaired by 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter and operated by his nephew Warren, was recently established to revive the meeting.

The sport planned to hold a Fan Festival in Johannesburg last March, but the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation. However, there are now hopes Africa will host its very own race in the near future.

Another topic Domenicali was quizzed on was whether he thinks the sport will see a female driver in the next 10 years, to which he simply replied: ‘That’s a big hope.’

South Africa last staged an F1 race in 1993 at Kyalami (pictured - a fan waves a Brazilian flag as Ayrton Senna drives by during the Grand Prix)

South Africa last staged an F1 race in 1993 at Kyalami (pictured - a fan waves a Brazilian flag as Ayrton Senna drives by during the Grand Prix)

South Africa last staged an F1 race in 1993 at Kyalami (pictured – a fan waves a Brazilian flag as Ayrton Senna drives by during the Grand Prix)

It has been over 45 years since a female driver, Italian Lella Lombardi, last took part in an F1 race but Jamie Chadwick is among those who has big hopes for the future.  

Chadwick was retained by Williams for the 2021 season and has continued as the team’s development driver for a third consecutive campaign.

Furthermore, Domenicali ruled out introducing two-day race weekends in the future during the brief Q&A.

He insisted: ‘The old organiser really wanted to have a full experience for the people and the crowd, so we need to respect that.’

Last season, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola ran to the more compressed schedule – with practice, qualifying and racing taking place inside two days.

Jamie Chadwick (pictured) is among the female drivers looking to make their mark in F1

Jamie Chadwick (pictured) is among the female drivers looking to make their mark in F1

Jamie Chadwick (pictured) is among the female drivers looking to make their mark in F1

That format was deemed as a success and it reignited discussions about whether it could work going forward but the new F1 chief has now ruled it out. 

Domenicali also answered questions regarding Mercedes’ domination, in which he admitted he hoped didn’t continue, while claiming he believes Ferrari will be title contenders again in the next five years.

The 2021 F1 calendar picks up again this weekend following the thrilling season-opener in Bahrain at the end of March.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton just edged out Red Bull title rival Max Verstappen in Bahrain and the pair are set to reignite their battle at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy this weekend.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will renew their rivalry at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will renew their rivalry at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen will renew their rivalry at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix