After nearly 60 years of waiting – could F1 finally be returning to Morocco?

After nearly 60 years of waiting – could F1 finally be returning to Morocco?
1958-Moroccan Grand Prix© Getty Images

The last Grand Prix held in Morocco was in 1958, but it seems the country is set to bring F1 back to the African continent.

The 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix took place at Ain-Diab Circuit in Casablanca on the 19th of October.  F1 legend, Sir Stirling Moss of the Vanwall team finished in pole position. The eyes of the motor racing world fell upon Morocco for the entire weekend.  This was the one and only time that Morocco has ever hosted a Formula One Grand Prix.

That particular race weekend is also remembered for the fatal accident involving British Driver, Stuart Lewis-Evans, who at the time was managed by Bernie Ecclestone; they were known to be good friends.  Understandably, this may have meant the F1 boss could be somewhat reluctant to return to this spot, could this also be the reason we have not seen a race in Morocco for almost sixty years?

Despite this, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was pictured with the King of Morocco at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.  At the time, he confirmed there had been talks about holding a race in Morocco at some point in the future.

For the die-hard motorsport fans in Morocco, there has been some small recompense.  In 2009, the first international motor race took place on a thrilling street circuit in Marrakech, in the form of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).

Morocco Circuit Achieves FIA Grade 2 Standard with New Layout

In an article published by the FIA this week, announcements have been made about the future of motorsport in Morocco being stepped up a gear, with the Circuit Moulay El Hassan having undergone a complete reconstruction, raising the circuits new 3km layout up to FIA Grade 2 standards.

The WTCC Race of Morocco is scheduled to be held at the all-new 1.8km track next month.  However, with the upgrade comes more good news for Moroccans, as the track is now capable of being used all year round.

The track, which was designed by Hermann Tilke has been cordially named after the Crown Prince of Morocco.  It is now the only permanent circuit in the country and is located a stone’s throw from the centre of Marrakech, placing it in the ideal location for visitors and fans alike.

Morocco is proud to boast significant growth in the car market and manufacturing industries alike, with major companies now building and exporting out of the country and a population of around forty million.  Morocco is a much more worthy opponent regarding the potential opportunity to host an F1 race than it may have appeared to be in previous years.

Having now successfully hosted the FIA WTCC for six years, running this as Africas most popular and prime motorsport event, it has put Morocco in an excellent position to be able to move forward and progress any interests or applications in the hope of being able to host another Formula One Grand Prix race in Morocco.

The Future of Motorsports in Morocco

The new, permanent circuit will now enable serious motorsports development in Morocco, meaning not only can activities take place all year round at the track, but also, it will act as a catalyst and aid driver development in the country too.  Medhi Bennani is a prime example of the homegrown talent that we have seen in the WTCC.  Having these improved facilities, which are available all year round will allow Morocco to foster development in any promising individuals and ensure that the people of Morocco have both the opportunity and the best facilities in which to develop their skills for success in global motorsports.

The FIA World Touring Car Championship will take place in Marrakech from the 6th – 8th of May.

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