Formula 1 owners Liberty Media say they are buoyed by the prospect of the sport returning to Africa after interest from Morocco at hosting a grand prix.
The Moroccan city of Marrakesh is keen on staging a street race having been a venue on the WTCC calendar for eight years and more recently host to Formula E.
Morocco previously held a world championship race on one occasion in 1958 in Casablanca, while F1’s last visit to the continent was in 1993 for the final South African Grand Prix at the Kyalami Circuit.
“We race on five continents and the last habitable continent that we don’t race in is Africa,” F1 commercial boss Sean Bratches told reporters at a sports industry event in London, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“We’ve been having very productive conversations in South Africa and to a lesser extent in Morocco about bringing a grand prix.
“We raced there before. I’ve been told that due to political considerations historically, that ceased. We’re on it, and it’s really important to us.”
Asked to expand on the prospect of either country hosting an event in the near future, Bratches told Reuters: “It’s a marketplace in which we would like to race. We are a global sport.
“There’s a historic circuit in South Africa, Kyalami. Toby Venter, who owns the Porsche dealerships in South Africa has purchased it, fully remediated it, garages, paddock.
“Similarly to other markets around the world, we have been proactively approached by other areas such as Morocco, Marrakesh.
“There’s a circuit there as well. I’m a little bit less familiar with the status, I suspect it’s not a grade one circuit, but there is a high degree of interest.”
Given the interest shown by Morocco, Bratches believes the project is bound to be funded by government backing.
“Wherever you go in the world [our races] are economic engines for these countries, states, cities, principalities, municipalities.
“The vast majority of our grands prix are underpinned by government and it’s because it works. We shine a bright light on these cities, there’s a lot of direct economic impact that comes in.”
When asked to give a time frame on a potential deal, he added: “It’s dynamic. We are looking in the short term, let’s frame it up that way.”