Formula 1 in Machakos still a pipe dream, even if Governor Mutua delivers


On June 26, 2021, Governor Alfred Mutua committed to fulfilling his manifesto pledge to construct a Formula 1 track in Machakos.

According to the former Government Spokesperson Mutua had in his manifesto, promised to build the first F1 racing track in Kenya, at the Machakos People’s Park.

Nearly a year to the general election, last June, Mutua had reaffirmed his commitment to deliver the track.

“By this time next year, the Formula 1 track in Machakos will be ready,” Mutua, who is serving a second term as the Machakos governor, said in a tweet after attending the World Safari Rally in Naivasha last year.

The campaign promise was seen as a dream to take Kenya to the global map of Formula One, a rich man’s sport. 

In 2019, for example, the F1 made a Sh200 billion profit.

If Mutua is to deliver on his promise in the next three months, Machakos will become only the second city in Africa, after Midrand, in Gauteng, South Africa, to have an F1 track.

Formula one has never been staged in Africa for the last two decades.

The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit motor racing circuit located north of Johannesburg was the last to host a Grand Prix and Formula One race in 1993.

But this could change, and Kenya, Machakos, specifically, could grab the chance (sic) of hosting the event if the word by Formula 1 boss Stefano Domenicali is anything to go by.

Domenicali recently confirmed that the continent may host races in the future, an idea that is being supported by British driver Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton recently said that the Kyalami circuit should be considered, giving South Africa a better chance of grabbing the rare opportunity.

But they might have stiff competition from Machakos, only if Mutua delivers the track in the next four months.

Domenicali told Sky Sports F1’s Journalist Martin Brundle, wouldn’t be possible due to the level of interest in the sport.

“On top of America, on top of China, I think there is a potential to be in Africa soon. There is a lot of interest there. That is another area that so far is missing in the geography of our calendar,” Domenicali stated.

F1’s current Concorde Agreement allows 24 races per season though the F1 boss is not ruling out a possibility of an additional six.

The Concorde agreement runs until 2025.

“It is up to us to try to find the right balance considering what are the venues which would like to be in F1, what are the historical values we need to see on the calendar.”

Speaking to reporters in Bahrain, Domenicali also said that some current races could lose their spot on the grid.

“There are some promoters who have expiring agreements, and probably some of the current Grand Prix will no longer be part of the calendar,” he said.

According to Mutua, the Machakos track will be approximately 12-14 kilometres long. The minimum length of a Formula 1 race is 305km apart from the Monaco Grand Prix track which is 260km long.

This, therefore, means that the yet to be delivered Machakos track will never host an F1 race.

Mutua said that the track will be used by regular drivers as a normal road to control traffic adding that the county’s economy might not afford to stage an F1 race.

A Formula 1 track cost approximately Sh27 billion, while the maintenance costs could reach up to two billion per year.

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