Formula One in talks over race in Marrakesh

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Formula One could be heading to Morocco after it was revealed that discussions have been staged to hold a race in Marrakesh.

Just days after announcing the Dutch Grand Prix will return to the calendar next year, the sport has expressed its desire for a race in Africa.

While Kyalami, a track in South Africa which last staged a grand prix in 1993 is in pole position to land the continent’s first grand prix in over a quarter-of-a-century, F1’s commercial chief, Sean Bratches revealed that F1 has also been in talks with Morocco.

“We race on five continents and the last habituated continent that we don’t race in is Africa,” said Bratches.

“We have proactively been approached by Morocco and Marrakesh to take a grand prix there. There is a high degree of interest.

“Formula One raced in South Africa before – there is a historic track in Kyalami – but I have been told that due to political considerations historically, that ceased.

“We are looking in the short term to have a race there. It is really important to us to have a race in Africa.”

Stirling Moss won the last Formula One round in Morocco, staged near Casablanca in 1958. But the race was overshadowed by the death of British driver Stuart Lewis-Evans who was killed after his car caught on fire.

Formula E, the electric series, has raced in Marrakesh for the past three years, but the 1.8-mile circuit is shorter than all of the current F1 venues.

The addition of Zandvoort in Holland, and a street race in Hanoi, Vietnam means there will be two new rounds on the schedule next year.

But there are five races, including the British Grand Prix, whose contracts expire at the end of the year. There is a growing feeling that the rounds in Spain and Mexico will not be renewed, and Bratches confirmed the schedule will not expand.

“We are optimistic about the prospect of a 21-race calendar again next year,” he added. “I don’t think we are going to have more than that.”

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Silverstone chiefs meanwhile, are keen to wrap up an extension to their contract before this year’s race on July 14. Asked if that is realistic, Bratches, speaking at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club in London, said: “We will see. We are having productive discussions with multiple parties.

“Silverstone has been a central and seminal part of the race calendar since 1950. Those discussions are ongoing.”

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