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South Africa’s Date with F1

Local Legend, Exhibitions, and Fun Events to Expect

Valterri Bottas

South Africa’s date with Formula One is getting closer. Booked for March 29 in Sandton Johannesburg, the fan festival will be jam-packed with activities that range from supercar exhibitions and eSports to speeches and selfies with F1 legends.

Three F1 Teams to Attend

Formula One will tag three teams when it visits South Africa for the first time since 1993: Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault. Crucially, at least one active driver will be present, last year’s World Championship runner-up Valtteri Bottas.

A fan festival involving Formula One teams isn’t precisely new to South Africans. However, it will be the first time F1 holds such an event since it last held a Grand Prix in the country over 20 years ago.

The event will be made possible in part by beer brand Heineken and SAGP, a racing company owned by F1 legend Jody Scheckter. Needless to say, the former F1 champion will also be in attendance.

Entertainment Lineup

• Exhibition Race

Valtteri Bottas isn’t just showing up to South Africa to greet fans. He will gear up in his Mercedes and thrill fans with an exhibition race featuring other professional drivers. To spice things up, the competition will be a full 90-minute circuit, with all the turns and twists of an F1 race.

• Pirelli Pit-Stop Challenge

F1 and South African’s motor racing drivers will participate in a Pirelli Pit-Stop challenge where the winning team walks away with lucrative gifts. For the initiated, this competition involves competing to change tires and steering the care past a designated cross line in the quickest time.

• Car Exhibition

In addition to bringing Bottas and other drivers, F1 will also display the best of its racing cars. The Federation didn’t list all cars it will showcase, but it will feature these cars: F1600, SA Karting and classic single-seat vehicles.

Will the cars include the McLaren MP4/4 and the Porsche 917/30? You need to buy a ticket and attend the event to know. Alternatively, you could watch the entire fan festival on SuperSport.

• eSports Challenge

Esports, the fast-growing industry of competitive video gaming is well and alive in South Africa. In light of that information, F1 will have an exclusive area where eSports fans who love car racing can play the F1 2019 video game.

F1 will bring some of its eSports teams to lead the events. And obviously, there will be rewards for winners. What’s more, the best South Africans could get an opportunity to join the official Formula One eSports team.

Will Formula One Reintroduce a Grand Prix in South Africa?

Scheckter, who’s one of the key figures in organizing the upcoming event, has said before he plans to persuade the F1 to return to South Africa soon. On the other hand, the Federation says South Africa has a special place in its organization according to Marketing head Ellie Norman.

"South Africa has a very special place in Formula 1 history, and we remain committed to returning to South Africa in the future," Ellie Norman said after the F1 made the upcoming festival public.

The Sponsorship Problem

Political tensions and a small market were two of several reasons why F1 halted its South African Grand Prix in the early 90s. But now that the country is at a better place politically, finance remains the biggest challenge in bringing back F1 to the streets of Joburg and Cape Town.

Funding is required to build high-standard tracks sponsor drivers and engineers for F1 to consider SA a prime Grand Prix location. Meanwhile, South Africans can look forward to the upcoming festival and cherish it tremendously.

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