It will be the first time the Grand Prix has been held at the North Waikato circuit and the first time any Castrol Toyota Racing Series event has been held on the longer and more challenging 4km international format track which has ten corners and a current lap record of 1 minute 27.637 seconds.
The MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned event – a joint venture by Hampton Downs and Speed Works Events – will run over the weekend of January 22nd-24th with practice, qualifying and two races for drivers before the New Zealand Grand Prix itself on Sunday 24th over 28 laps of the circuit. The earlier calendar date is designed to attract high profile New Zealand drivers still at home following the Christmas break and provide a rare opportunity to run the Grand Prix with the very best Kiwi drivers available in it.
The New Zealand race is one of only two official FIA-sanctioned events permitted to carry the Grand Prix title that are not part of the annual FIA Formula One World Championship. The other is the annual Macau Grand Prix. Both have global significance in the motorsport world, but New Zealand stands out because of the unrivalled list of famous names on the winner’s trophy.
That list includes the late Stirling Moss, Prince Bira, Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart and legendary Kiwi racers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon. More recently, it has been won by current F1 drivers Lando Norris and Lance Stroll. There’s an impressive list of Kiwis on the winners roll of honour too, including three time winners Craig Baird, Nick Cassidy and Ken Smith – who will also be aiming to make his 50th straight start in the Grand Prix in 2021, a record achievement.
MotorSport New Zealand, in consultation with Castrol Toyota Racing Series management and rights holder SpeedWorks Events, appointed Hampton Downs as the host of the Grand Prix in 2021 and acting CEO Elton Goonan says it’s a massive positive in globally challenging times for motorsport.