Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone
plans London grand prix
Billionaire F1 supremo offers to pay £35m to stage event on street circuit in heart of capital
If he gets his way – and he is not a man particularly at ease with compromise – central London could soon echo with the roar of F1 cars tearing down Piccadilly at speeds previously matched only by midnight minicab drivers bearing peaky-looking fares.
The billionaire supremo, who has long dreamed of staging the world’s biggest grand prix in the capital, has now offered to stump up the £35m needed to pay for the event.
Ecclestone believes that an F1 race in the heart of the city, with cars zooming past landmarks including Nelson’s Column and Buckingham Palace, would eclipse the glamour of the Monaco circuit and pay for itself quite comfortably.
According to the Times, plans drawn up for the event – due to be unveiled on Thursday night – suggest it would be watched by 120,000 people in grandstands along a three-mile route and attract a global television audience in the tens of millions, generating as much as £100m for the economy.
“With the way things are, maybe we would front it and put the money up for it,” Ecclestone told the newspaper. “If we got the OK and everything was fine, I think we could do that.”
He added that the financial benefits for both the capital and England would far outstrip the money brought in by the events taking place in east London and elsewhere this summer.
“Think what it would do for tourism,” he said: “It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics.”
The proposed route would see cars lining up on the Mall, buzzing the Ritz, skirting Green Park, passing Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament before speeding along the Embankment, and hurtling through Trafalgar Square before nipping under Admiralty Arch and back to the Mall. Each of the 59 laps would take an F1 car a mere 94 seconds, with speeds on the Piccadilly and Birdcage Walk straights reaching 180mph.
The plans come at a time when governments around the world are queuing up to buy the rights to stage a grand prix for up to £30m per race.
A study by global design practice Populous has examined the feasibility of staging a London grand prix. Assistant principal John Rhodes told the Times the event would not cause major disruption, taking five days to set up equipment and three to dismantle it.
Others believe the revenue generated by an F1 race in London could even exceed Ecclestone’s predictions.
Nigel Currie, the director of the leading sports marketing agency brandRapport, said the grand prix could represent a “commercial bonanza” for the capital.
“Maybe it would be two or three times that £100m,” he told the Times. “A successful London Olympics will show that there is an appetite for big events and bringing a grand prix to the people on their doorstep will attract massive attention.”
Darren Johnson, Green Party member of London Assembly said the F1 proposal was a “terrible idea”.
“[It] sends out all the wrong messages about how our streets are used. We should be promoting safer streets by reducing our speeds and encouraging walking and cycling, not championing a high speed race such as this.”
Tour & Travel you can trust http://www.1stchoiceconcierge.co.uk