With Abu Dhabi set for the final slot on the Formula 1 calendar in 2009, South Korea due to enter the fray a year later and India mooted for inclusion a year later still, Bulgaria has emerged as the latest country to elicit interest in holding a grand prix.
According to Bulgarian news agency Focus
, the East European nation is aiming to secure itself a position on the schedule in 2011, following a meeting held in Monaco between the sport's officials and representatives of the Bulgarian motor racing federation and government.
Two years ago, F1SA
reports, Dutch or British investors were considering funding a circuit in the Balkan republic, and minister Rumen Petkov has admitted that 'one of the main priorities for our country are the talks with MotoGP and Formula 1'.
Meanwhile, it is rumoured that South Africa is taking steps to regain a spot on the F1 calendar, having last held a race in the top flight back in 1993. Grandprix.com
reveals that reports have appeared in The Citizen
newspaper in the country suggesting that new company GP (Gauteng Province) Motorsport – constituted in part by the provincial government – has been set up in an effort to entice the sport back again.
Also on-board the project is former International F3000 ace Stephen Watson, who five years ago put together a plan to bring Champ Cars to Durban, a street circuit that has since hosted the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport after Watson was made manager of the nation vs nation series.
The first South African Grand Prix was held around the streets of East London in 1934, and though it disappeared for two decades from 1940 to 1959, it became a permanent fixture on the official world championship calendar in 1962, moving to what would become its permanent home of Kyalami in 1967.
Held annually until 1985, the South African Grand Prix then disappeared again until 1992 due to Apartheid and financial issues, but the race fell off the calendar once more the following year as a result of ongoing cash flow problems, and has not returned since.
GP Motorsport, however, is said to be ready and willing to stump up the necessary funding for the construction of a new, F1-standard venue in the region. Renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke is understood to have visited the area in the last month to examine a disused quarry near to Kyalami that has been earmarked for the track.
states that Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile was the man behind the deal to sponsor Renault at the beginning of 2008, and the subsequent Renault F1 Roadshow in Johannesburg, attended by some 60,000 fans.
Mashatile was also instrumental in securing a multi-year contract for Kyalami to welcome A1GP from February, 2009, and is keen to promote Gauteng as a burgeoning investment and tourist destination, with most European and American visitors currently favouring Cape Town and Durban. The premier believes a world-class event like a grand prix would go some way to achieving both this and significant economic growth.