F1 insider: Durban Grand Prix?

2010-10-08 08:15

Is the time ripe for South Africa’s return to the F1 Grand Prix calendar?

That is the question that will be asked in Durban next week when a specially-constituted working group ponders a proposal by a South African company working in conjunction with Abu Dhabi-based investors to return F1 to South Africa at new custom facility to be built in kwaZulu-Natal.

According to documents in the possession of Wheels24, the investors intend building a full F1-specification circuit within a retail, lifestyle, tourism, commercial and technology centre.

A site near Durban’s recently built King Shaka International Airport has been earmarked for development, and a proposal recently presented to kZN’s provincial treasury department.

‘I have been asked by my MEC (MEC Ina Cronje) to investigate the matter and to write a report by the end of the month,’ Clive Coetzee, a treasury official, exclusively told Wheels24. ‘There is indeed a proposal on the table.’

The working group, consisting of various role players, including Abu Dhabi’s Royal Group, Nightbridge Investments (instigators of the quasi-government Gauteng Province Motorsport Company, which recently collapsed in a mountain of debt), the KZN Automotive Cluster, Motorsport SA, Tourism KZN, the Airport and Dube Trade Port will meet on 14 October at the airport to debate the matter.

TRACK LAYOUT: The proposed Durban Grand Prix track layout

Sources indicate there are serious concerns about the legitimacy of Nightsbridge, particularly after the collapse of GMSC, and Gauteng’s decision to the cancel certain contracts entered into by GMSC’s then-CEO Steven Watson – a close associate of Nightsbridge – plus the overall financial viability of the project.

Grand prix attendances across the world are dwindling on account of astronomical ticket prices.

The average Grand Prix ticket is currently priced at R4000, meaning a family of four faces a bill of R16 000 before costs of accommodation and travel.

In addition, the kZN treasury department requires that the national government commit financial support for the project. ‘However, if the national government is not willing or able to support the development then the proposal should not be considered. KZN Provincial and local government simply should not get involved without national government support’ concludes the document.

Proposed economic impact on South Africa:

Circuit - R1.8 to R2.5bn
Foreign tourism spend - R500m per annum
Domestic tourism spend - R100m per annum
Event hospitality - R300 – 350m per annum
Accumulative net direct spend per annum - R2-3 billion per annum
Job creation - 7000+ jobs sustained per annum

Share your thoughts on SA's return to F1 here!


  • Bart - 2010-10-08 08:43

    awesome, ill support it all the way, circuit does look short though...?

  • JK9 - 2010-10-08 09:49

    I am so livid that they want to host a prestige event in Durban. I am huge fan of formula 1 and i am all for F1 to return to South Africa, but not to be held in Durban. Durban has a high crime rate and very little to offer in terms of tourist sites. i was hoping that it will be held i Cape Town, In Cape Town, you have table Mountain, the garden route, stellenbosch, sea point, simons town where the SA navy seel base is held, you have the harbour, you have long street, and the people are more friendly in Cape town than in Durban. Cape town is a more beautiful city than Durban. the A1 was not successful there and now they think that hosting F1 there is going to be successful. If they want to investe R1.8 to R2.5 bn then Cape town is the place to do it. they will still create 7000+ jobs and the Accumulative net direct spend per annum will be more that R2-3 bn, Cape town has more to offer tourists and is voted the No.1 tourist destination in South Africa. We have idiots running this country, they have peanuts for brains. I say the mother city must host the F1 not Durban. Any one agree with me. buy the way i am a jorburg boy so you cant say im biased.

  • Sean O'Donnell - 2010-10-08 09:54

    Personally, I would support it. However, I do not see it happening, as F1 is simply too expensive for a country like SA where it enjoys very little support. How many SAfricans would attend at R4k per ticket - not too many.

  • Suckers! - 2010-10-08 10:05

    @JK9.... Dude, you sad person you... the Ethekweni (that's Durban to you) Municipality is hosting this dingus, coz you guys in CPT can't/won't. Besides, you got enough on your plate paying for your own stadium. This is not political, it's economics. Durban hosted the A1 on the streets as well. Table Mountain? are we also having a F1 Cable Car race too? and the Navy is not needed in F1 coz the cars DO NOT float, I don't care how light they are. Lets be grateful if it does come to SA, how's that?

  • meindert - CapeTown - 2010-10-08 10:19

    @JK, don't forget the blunder with Durban Airport and Stadium Security. Just wondering if Gauteng isn't a more logical choice, they seem to be able to handle the biggest events the best.

  • jojo - 2010-10-08 10:19

    Cape Town were it rains and rains and rains. Durban is an awesome place. Yes. let's do it there so it can be postponed a million times and then canceled. That totally makes sense. Durban is a great place.

  • Kolkas - 2010-10-08 10:25

    @Suckers, dude you can't read. JK9 is from Jozi. Anyway, I think an F1 for SA will work, but not for durban, maybe Cape Town or Jhb. I follow some of the local series and have observed that race days in Cape Town and Jhb draw the biggest crowds. So, if we invest in a circuit in these cities, the track would be used for F1 and will still be used for the current race days (If Killarney or Kayalami closes that is) Also, there is more Wealth in Jhb and Cape Town, one being the Business centre of Africa and the other being the Holiday House location of many Western Europeans, therefore a R4k price tag will still be able to bring in a crowd in one of the 2. Sorry, but I just don't see this for Durban. Total waste.

  • Charless - 2010-10-08 10:25

    Why dont they just use Kyalami, would save the investors about R2bn, upgrade Kyalami for around 500m thus dropping the ticket prices. Both Hamilton and Massa have driven around the track in the last year and gave it rave reviews and said they would love a GP to be held there. But hey having said that I would support a SA GP no matter where it is held. I have waited since 1993 to witness a live race again, and @ AB I was allready supporting Schumacher who on this occasion came off 2nd best to Senna and spun off while they were fighting for 2nd place behind Prost.

  • what do i know? - 2010-10-08 10:25

    Its never going to happen guys.Save your money and go watch it overseas.The last time the A1 was held here,the first race was sold out,but the following two just didnt feel the same.The ticket prices @ R300 for two days was considered TOO EXPENSIVE,can you imagine what the whiners will say to pay even R2000.???Besides that there were more complaints from the public about the inconvenience about the traffic congestion,noise,etc etc...Im saving to go to Singapore or India or even Korea.

  • @jk9 - 2010-10-08 10:30

    Cape Town is great... just like Greenpoint stadium... an F1 track in Cape Town will just be another white elephant.

  • JT - 2010-10-08 10:42

    I am all for it. The biggest mistake the Gautneng Governemnt made was cancelling their motorsport program and then in the next breath they say the automotive sector and sports tourism is important to them - hello? Where are the leaders of the global automotive sector every second or third weekend? Durban is perfect and we will support any entity who can make this happen - Durban out of all the other host cities, made the most of the world cup, highest revenue generating stadium befoer and after the world cup, most successful fan park in the country... Zimbali has proven to be a massive success - with many foreign investors buying into KZN. Finally we have an entity that will build with private money a world class motorsport circuit in a Province that doesn't have one and hopefully a government that will support this initiative by supporting the bid to host F1. Cape Town (Kilarney) and Gauteng (Kyalami) have had their chance and what have the done with it? Nada! KZN Government, I salute you for taken the initaitive - you have my vote!

  • Jaco - 2010-10-08 10:43

    That track looks like crap? Why not go to Kyalami? It's widely regarded as a fantastic track.

  • Grant - 2010-10-08 10:50

    "Grand prix attendances across the world are dwindling on account of astronomical ticket prices" HAHA Dieter hasnt a clue what he is talking about - The circuits that are in "new" countries do not have the spectators, tell me one European circuit that hasnt had sold out races this year ? The like of Bahrain and Abu Dhabi and China is because no-one wants to GO there. and none of the locals are motorsport fans

  • jackey - 2010-10-08 10:53

    This has all to do with politics people in case you haven't noticed !!!JZ is from KZN..Olympics prefered host city Durban, proposed SA Grand Prix ..Durban and the list goes on...I honestly do not thing Cape town should expect any events backed by the govermnet coz it's controlled by the DA,which is a pity cause it has all the right credentials..!!!! rather have it in Kyalami..

  • Suckers! - 2010-10-08 11:23

    @Kolkas... Surely not Josies? i don't think the drivers would be able to see with all that smog and stuff! Durban is ideal cos everything is nearby. the weather plays it's part for almost the whole year, and the track will not ice up in winter. Sea level means more power and less strain on engines. Further, I am from Bloem, so there! Hmmm mebbe they should host it here????

  • Dave - 2010-10-08 11:28

    This is a joke......right?......Jeez, you nearly caught me there

  • Clinton - 2010-10-08 11:47

    The Free State funded Phakisa - cost a fortune - and now its just a white elephant. Same will happen with Durban - and is happening with all the SWC stadiums. At the end its the tax payers who foot the bill. Use the existing infrastructure and upgrade - rather then building another new circuit - and btw Welkom sits nicely in the middle of the country so why not use Phakisa?

  • D - 2010-10-08 12:01

    There is nothing wrong with Durban hosting the F1. Assuming hosting F1 in SA at all makes financial sense. Cpt cant even get people to use their stadium after the WC, Durbans is moving along perfectly. The airport issues? How quickly we forget, this was due to FIFA and celebrity bigwigs who didnt feel the need to use the old Durban Airport and used the new airport also refusing to fly and park at the old airport where they were supposed to be. Durban still has two functioning airports both of which can be used, that problem will never happen again. And Meindert, the stadium strikes happened all over SA? Or you conveniently forget again, didnt you see the Aussie journalist who walked right into Soccer City with not one guard around anywhere? Idiot. Durban is closer to Jhb, has perfect weather all year round, you can get anywhere in 30 mins including from the airport. It has the Natal Midlands, Drakensberg mountains, the cultural battlefields, Zululand, Sodwana, Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Mozambique up the road and you can be in game farms all in under 3 hours. Cpt people need to seriously get over the mountain for a minute. The only thing Cpt has is a DA run city with a functioning CBD for all people to use. Aside from that its overcrowded, congested and up its own arse. A mountain, haha... Ooohhh. No mountains anywhere in the world now are there?

  • stan - 2010-10-08 12:11

    Aggree with you JK9. Jo'Burg? Who wants to race in between mine dumps, smog, aggreesive Taxi Drivers, the Blue light bridage and Hibrow? And lests be honest, Jo'Burg is not exactly an exciting place to go for holiday. Durban has alot going for it, but it ain't Cape Town when it comes to beauty, accessibilty (remember Durban airport fiasco during world cup??). Capw Town is a well established Tourism destination.

  • Mo - 2010-10-08 13:03

    I don't care where they host it. Just as long as they don't try and host it like a Monaco track. We have enough street races on the F1 calendar. Build a proper track for it.

  • Ex Bahrain GP employee - 2010-10-08 13:36

    I personally think it will be a great thing to host the F1 in South Africa annually however I don't think that Durban would be the ideal location. I say give it to Cape Town. major port of entry, most popular city in SA, not to mention breathtakingly beautiful. To host a world class motor racing event of such a magnitude you need to have people who can get the job done not take 20 years to build the circuit. Cape Town has an exisiting track Killarney, what's that gonna just be one of the many forgotten SA landmarks of a by gone era?

  • JK9 - 2010-10-08 14:06

    @ suckers - Just face it, Cape town has more to offer tourist than Durban. Think a bit, if you give a tourist more option and entertainment they are willing to pay for it, thus them spending more means more money for the economy, it will also show foriegn investors that they can invest in SA. the first impression must be a lasting impression and a good one too. Sorry Dude, Cape Town still the better choice how ever you want to justify it is not, logic prevals on this one.

  • F1Fan - 2010-10-08 14:43

    @D CPT (Western Cape) is the most visited city (& province) in South Africa (by foreigners) CPT is not just about the mountain, there is Robben Island, Wine Farms, Beaches, Game Reserves, the Best Restaurant's, Hotels, friendly people and so much more. Oh yes, and did I mention the least amount of crime? And let's face it, the A1 GP that was held in Durban was a joke. The only place for F1 in SA is CPT.

  • Steyn Nothling - 2010-10-08 14:50

    I believe the right place will be POFADDER for a SA GP. Then they can race around the whole town

  • Andy Strydom - 2010-10-08 15:34

    Dream on guys. There is no way F1 will return to South Africa - it is way too expensive. After wasting billions on empty stadiums you would think due diligence would be done before the loose talk.

  • F1 FOONDI - 2010-10-08 15:34


  • peter - 2010-10-08 15:38

    2011 aus gp general admission tickets (4 days) USD200. so its not "R4k on average". i would happily spend R1400 for a weekend's motor sport.

  • Eeiish, too much. - 2010-10-08 15:42


  • James - 2010-10-08 16:12

    Rather a GP every year for five or six years than a world cup costing billions and we are left with all the white elephants.

  • heather - 2010-10-08 16:45

    R4000 a ticket? This is not going to work. If it's going to be that expensive for a ticket, Cape Town would be a better option. But I must say, thanks to the WC, Durban is looking good

  • Just Asking - 2010-10-08 18:17

    If this is the layout for the proposed Durban GP track, why does the drawing indicate a Gautrain yard alongside the track?

  • Sean - 2010-10-08 19:49

    Peter, just thought you should know that the man who wrote this article is not just pulling prices from nowhere, he happens to have a business that organises F1 GP tour, so im pretty sure he knows the average price. And to all you CPT people DBN rocks and its not gonna come to CPT so get over it!!!

  • natureboy7910 - 2010-10-08 23:11

    Price of a F1 ticket...sky high. FIA introducing new rules...ridiculous. Government supporting this annual event...maybe. Watching a grand prix in SA...priceless.

  • Pieter - 2010-10-09 00:24

    Where do they get their average ticket prices from??? R4000 average is rubbish! I just returned from the Singapore Night GP & the cheapest ticket was R1000 for the whole weekend. Grandstand tickets like I had was in the region of R1400. You can bet if they use that as a market average, that it is what they intend asking! 3rd world country with the most expensive GP!

  • FreeSpeech - 2010-10-09 08:30

    Durban has shown that it's able to host the A1. However, Kyalami would be the better choice for F1. Upgrading Kyalami would be cheaper than building a new one, which would keep ticket prices down.

  • madmax - 2010-10-09 08:41

    @Grant and Pieter: crap ... website http://www.gpticketshop.com/en/f1/singapure-f1-grand-prix/tickets.html shows grandstands at between R3500 and R7000. Same site shows Brazilian tickets at R2000 to R9000 and Abu Dhabi at R4000 regardless of stand. Giving average of????

  • Ivan - 2010-10-09 11:24

    Its about time KZN had an International Motor Racing venue. My concern is the cost to the Durban rate payers

  • tinfishboya - 2010-10-09 11:52

    i wonder who will be the preferred economic empowerment partner ???? most interesting !

  • Simbine - 2010-10-09 19:42

    This is the wonderful move but we must not always think of Durban rate payers money it means Durban will not develop.

  • Muthoo Marie - 2010-10-09 20:52


  • Louis - 2010-10-10 09:58

    Durbs is not the place for a GP of any sorts. The A1 circus has proved that. Not only is Durbs the most filthy city in SA but also the most over priced and over rated city. Who wants to go there, only people that is caught and stuck in the past. During the 80's it would have worked, but now, no ways!

  • Brieuse - 2010-10-10 19:24

    If price is R4000 a ticket it will fail.

  • Bokman - 2010-10-10 22:18

    R4000? Are you crazy? South African living in Ireland for the passed 9 years I would not pay more than R1000! Besides what is wrong with Kyalami?

  • PRESHEN GOVENDER - 2010-10-11 07:50

    I will rather stand in the hotel balcony and watch it with Binoculars

  • Nick - 2010-10-11 07:54

    The A1GP Races in Durban were brilliant, I was at all of them, so those who say it was a joke, were you even there?

  • Pariksha - 2010-10-11 08:53

    All I know is, that it will be a dream to watch an F1 in South Africa, but R4000 a ticket......thats just crazy......ohhhhh but what a dream

  • JFR - 2010-10-11 14:57

    The first A1GP in Durban was brilliant and a huge success, ask anyone who was there. After that the organisers ruined it when they got greedy. Anyway, SA should forget F1 and making the horrible little Bernie wealthier just like we should have done when the equally nasty Seth Blatter conned us out of billions for the WC.

  • Moto Moto - 2010-10-11 19:57

    Who needs a F1 track in Durban? Just have a look on any street in any Durban residential area and see the racing happening right on your doorstep..And if there are any Opel Corsa drivers out there who can actually read and have read my comment here is just a quick update..no matter how wide your mags ,dark your windows,how many scoops,spoiler or noisy your exhaust is..your Opel remains a budget entry level outdated city runabout.IT IS NOT A RACE CAR !!!YOU $#@%& RETARDS!!!

  • druidpromo - 2010-10-12 16:10

    Fools, F1 is about the track, not the bloody tourist attractions, most tracks are actually quite a distant out of urban areas. Enough of these stupid street circuits and proposals, modify an exisiting track or build a proper one......

  • CORSA FAN - 2010-10-12 17:11

    MOTO MOTO, I have a Corsa with double divorce pipes, straight see-thru windows, citrus conversion, flourescent fluff on the dash, underground camshafts and a Jim Reeves 8 track cassette pumping through my 3 x 4,5 speakers. So don't knock it or i'll let the dog in the back window stop lolling his head and bite you. In the meantime if you can donate a few bucks towards an upgrade set of 165x14" mags it'll be appreciated big time.