As Formula 1 continues to expand its reach, its events with the greatest traditions have found themselves increasingly under threat. History alone does not keep a race on the calendar, as the Italian Grand Prix organisers are finding out the hard way in their battle to save Monza’s place as part of the world championship circus. Over the years there have been 41 different grands prix, which means more than half of the places Formula 1 has visited are now just names in the record books. F1’s latest affair saw the European Grand Prix moniker attached to the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, a venue unknown to the racing fraternity. This brings forth a serious question: in its mad rush to milk money from every single avenue it can(with hosting Grand Prix in wealthy areas having little to none Motorsport heritage being the latest one), is the circus justified in sacrificing genuine tracks that have provided good racing? To find an answer to this question let us have a look at a few lost F1 circuits that fell by the wayside.
Kyalami translates to ‘my home’ in Zulu, truly was that to African motorsport, having hosted the South African Grand Prix between 1967 and 1993 save for a 1986-91 hiatus.
Early events were hosted by East London, and the final two by Kyalami’s ‘mirror’ circuit, but the original Kyalami layout, comprising a long downhill straight, tricky Esses and fast, flowing corners, remains iconic.
The event was generally staged early in the season – once on New Year’s Day – thus providing winter respite for northern hemispherians. No world championship can exclude an entire continent, and South Africa alone has the requisite infrastructure and F1 culture in its region.
Kyalami, one of the lost F1 circuits, is being revamped to F1 standards, but a grand prix requires enormous political will and realistic economic demands – without which it is unlikely to happen.