Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s billionaire chief executive, has offered to pay more than £35 million to stage a grand prix in London. Plans are due to be announced later today for a five-kilometre route around some of London’s most famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square.
It would likely be the biggest grand prix motor race in the world, seeing as many as 120 000 spectators watching the race from grandstands along the route.
As it stands, drivers would start from a grid outside Buckingham Palace and race around a five-kilometre West End circuit, taking in sights such as Nelson’s Column, and Piccadilly Circus.
Ecclestone believes it would be even more impressive than the Monaco Grand Prix – currently the most famous and glamorous of motor racing’s street circuits:
Think what it would do for tourism. It would be fantastic – good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics.
The 81-year-old has wanted London to host a grand prix for a while, having seen the huge potential after a Formula One demonstration event on Regent Street back in 2004.
A possible indication of the circuit..
That event attracted thousands who watched Jenson Button and another British former world champion, Nigel Mansell, in action.
Ecclestone has pledged £35 million to promote the race, which would likely take place in the British summer.
Estimates of £100 million in takings from spectators and tourists are currently being thrown around.
Although it will cost millions of pounds, Ecclestone believes a London race would be so popular that it would pay for itself.
The event, to be called the London GP, could even be held at night to help create a “carnival atmosphere”.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he was “broadly positive” about the plan as long as air quality and noise issues were addressed.
I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth.
He continued that there was a very good economic case for a London Grand Prix, but:
The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at. I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.
Santander bank originally proposed the idea for the race, which also sponsors the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The race would however not take place for several years still, and is expected to complement, rather than replace, the annual Silverstone meeting.
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