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Cape Town bidding for F1 round

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This graphic outlines the Cape Town Grand Prix route being proposed by a local bid company. The bidder is due to meet with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone in the next few months and says if the bid is accepted above others from the city, it is aiming for September 2013 for the inaugural city Grand Prix. Photo: Bruce Sutherland/Graphic: Bob Grierson

Plans for an inner-city street circuit for a proposed Formula One Grand Prix in Cape Town have been unveiled.

A local company will present the plans, one of three different bids for Cape Town to host a Grand Prix, to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in the next few months.

The 5.3km-long circuit will pass some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, such as the Cape Town Stadium, Table Bay Harbour and the V&A Waterfront.

Drivers will roar along the track with Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and the ocean as the backdrop. They will pull into a pit lane along Beach Road in Green Point for split-second repairs and adjustments to their cars.

The Cape Town Grand Prix Bid Company has been invited by F1 boss Ecclestone to present its proposal in London, a meeting the company hopes will take place before the F1 season starts in Bahrain in March.

The company was founded in 2007 by Capetonian Igshaan Amlay after a 12-year research and development phase.

Esther Henderson, the company’s chief communications officer, said the proposed Cape Town Grand Prix was modelled on the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes place in the streets of the playground for the super-rich.

“Green Point is ideal for a street circuit like the one in Monaco because we have so many beautiful natural sights in the area. So while Monaco is the ‘French Riviera’ we can have the ‘African Riviera’ in Cape Town.”

The first Cape Town Grand Prix has been mooted for September 2013.

Henderson said the route through Sea Point, Green Point and Mouille Point was chosen for its “sexy location”.

The Cape Town Stadium was also an important part of the route, she explained: the proposed track started and ended there.

Henderson said the company had discussed and formulated its plan with input from the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape provincial government, Motorsport South Africa, Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro and what she described as “potential investors”.

Brian Smith, chairman of the Western Province Motor Racing Club, said the prospect of a F1 race in the city presented an “element of excitement” for racing enthusiasts.

“Although I am not directly involved with the bid, I have been to a few meetings over the past three years and understand that it will be modelled on the Monaco Grand Prix,” Smith said.

Henderson said major changes to the streets around Green Point and Sea Point in the lead-up to last year’s Fifa World Cup had meant a version of the route that was handed to the City of Cape Town for review, and approved in principle, had now been revised.

She said the company was still involved in a review process with the province and the city.

Tourism MEC Alan Winde said there were as many as three different possible bids to host a Grand Prix in the city.

“There are a number of companies pushing for this - there’s one at the airport, one towards Atlantis and now this. There is also a fourth bid to establish a ‘green’ race using battery-powered racing cars.

“I haven’t been approached to endorse any of these bids. But, generally, I think it is something we could put within the strategy of attracting major events. We would support that as a city and province, absolutely. A Grand Prix would profile the city globally very well.”

Winde said the “track-versus-street” debate continued, and each had merits.

“Obviously the cost of setting up a track would be enormous. And while a ‘Monaco-style’ race could inconvenience some locals - like the Argus Cycle Tour does - on the face of it, it would be very good for the city,” Winde said.

Henderson said the company would also seek to meet sports minister Fikile Mbalula before heading to London to present its plan to Ecclestone.

Ecclestone has previously expressed an interest in bringing F1 back to South Africa - the previous South African Grand Prix was held in 1993 at Kyalami near Johannesburg.

Hours before the 2010 British Grand Prix and the World Cup final, Ecclestone told the BBC: “(Africa) is another continent where we should be. Hopefully, now people will think what the World Cup has done for Africa would be good for Formula One. It would be nice to think we had then more or less covered the world.”

Henderson explained that the company had chosen to go with a street race instead of building a new circuit because preliminary feasibility studies, pending a full-scale economic impact assessment, showed it to be far cheaper.

“Our initial estimates showed that building a track could cost as much as R4 billion while upgrading existing infrastructure to FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) standard was estimated at a cost of about R100 million.”

Smith agreed a street race would be cheaper than building a new circuit, although the Green Point route would raise several issues.

“It is still going to require a huge investment because you would have to put up and dismantle the stuff every year, which costs millions. Then you would also have to ensure that you do not irritate the residents with the noise or cause too many disruptions over the four-day racing period.”

Grand Prix weekends traditionally begin on a Thursday with a free practice, which is repeated on a Friday. Qualifying phases are held on Saturdays, and races are held on Sundays.

Henderson said the economic impact of a Grand Prix would be “enormous”.

“In consultation with Cape Town Tourism we chose to have the race in September which is one of the city’s quieter months.

“The race also attracts more affluent people to the city which present opportunities for local business to make contacts.” - Cape Argus


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Gregory, wrote

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01:19pm on 28 January 2011
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This is all very well and organisers get very excited by these opportunities and projects and yes it is beneficial to the City and of course the country. However, what will be the cost of a ticket to watch this race? Will Joe and Joan Average be able to afford a ticket? Look at some of the ticket prices at the world cup soccer here in SA. So yes, excitement now and disappointment later?

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charlie st cloud, wrote

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10:55am on 26 January 2011
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how's the track going to run thru the stadium. are they going to break part of the stadium down?

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Dolf vd Walt, wrote

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08:35pm on 25 January 2011
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Would be fantastic to have a F1 GP in SA again. How do we get rid of that greedy little Brit ecclestone. he could finance the event from small change in his back pocket and not feel the difference.

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Dillon, wrote

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07:56pm on 25 January 2011
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Come on Cape Town, make this happen. Think of the property values.

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steven, wrote

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04:26pm on 25 January 2011
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According to the Picture, the track cuts through the Stadium. What is this supposed to mean? It will run Under? Over? They'll cut a piece of the stadium off? Haha... But all in all, Not a bad Idea... But I suppose it’s more Money for the ANC too... and Zuma

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Anonymous, wrote

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03:49pm on 25 January 2011
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The ANC will block it, to little money for their pocket. Like Kyalami in JHB is now a white Elephant and the same as the stadiums.

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Charli, wrote

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12:40pm on 25 January 2011
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Excellent. The City needs it and the country needs it. It brings in major tourism and branding. Bring back the Brand SA to our shores. Mt anonymous yes you below. THat's what many Europeans say then they come to SA to watch F1 and you go there and watch theres, which means you both stupid.

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:43am on 25 January 2011
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When will we in SA forget about F1 and making that nasty little Bernie Ecclestone richer at our expense. Did we learn nothing from the WC?

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z, wrote

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09:26am on 25 January 2011
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I went to Singapore to watch night race, on city streets, and it was totally spectacular, and thousands of visitors from all over the world. it would be more beneficial to CT in long term, then World Cup. Only the old farts in Mouille Point I see as a problem, they protest anything

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greg, wrote

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09:16am on 25 January 2011
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so who pays for the circuit? if its public money then i'm not for it just as most people are opposed to hosting the Olympics. I'm suspecting double standards here.

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Horizon Holiday Cottages, wrote

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06:00am on 25 January 2011
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Yes- this would not only showcase South Africa's most beautiful city to the world, but will add another mini tourist season to our calender.

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Anonymous, wrote

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07:50pm on 24 January 2011
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Sounds good this way we South Africans don't have to travel abroad to experience a F1GP.... Can't wait for 2013

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John H Hirst, wrote

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07:12pm on 24 January 2011
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Fantastic idea, i live in Green Point and it would be perfect, i have seen the one on the Gold coast in Brisbane and it works well, it would be great for the economy and offer part time needed jobs every year.

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Anonymous, wrote

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06:46pm on 24 January 2011
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I think a Track would be more beneficial if u want to create more jobs etc.

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jiggawho, wrote

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05:42pm on 24 January 2011
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Would be really cool to have. Interesting though, that this blog wrote a story about a street race in Cape Town a week back... http:www.ineedthat.co.zacapetown20110116cape-town-grand-prix-gp-formula-one-f1-south-africa-sa-za

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William S, wrote

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05:03pm on 24 January 2011
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....and pay the 45 mil per year to keep the CT Stadium serviced(well done on the Formula 1 thing)

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Keith Skidmore, wrote

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04:37pm on 24 January 2011
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Yes YES to Cape Town hosting the F1

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Keith Skidmore, wrote

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04:35pm on 24 January 2011
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Yes YES to Cape Town hosting the F1

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Chris, wrote

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04:02pm on 24 January 2011
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This would be great, not just Cape-Town but the countrty as a whole and i honesty hope this F1 event happens in the Beautiful city of Cape-Town no better venue in my eye.

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William S, wrote

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03:28pm on 24 January 2011
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First fix the potholes!!

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