The South African Grand Prix

FURTHER details are emerging about the future of Grand Prix racing in South Africa with the recent announcement by the cellular telephone company Vodacom that it will pour as much as $50m into the sport in the course of the next five years. The Automobile Association of South Africa is understood to have lodged guarantees with the FIA and with Bernie Ecclestone that will mean that it will join the F1 calendar at the end of next year.

If South Africa does win a place in the calendar it will be at the expense of one of the European venues as the teams are still refusing to do more than 16 races in a season, despite the FIA's wish that the series be extended to 18 or even 20 events. The Formula 1 calendar will not be settled until October although a draft calendar is likely to be voted when the WorldÊMotorÊSports Council meets in June.

The deal between the AASA and Vodacom gives the phone company the naming rights to all South African motorsport championships and the expansion of the racing school at Kyalami in the hope that the country will be able to produce a new champion to follow in the footsteps of Jody Scheckter.

The only problem for South Africa is that the government is trying hard to bring in a law banning the advertising of tobacco products, sports sponsorships and similar activities.

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