May 26 2013 Latest news:
Friday, June 29, 2012
It may be highly unlikely to ever happen but F1 fans can still dream – watch what a Formula 1 London Grand Prix could look like and see what champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button thinks of it.
British Grand Prix sponsor Santander has unveiled a vision for a future race around the capital’s streets.
A 5.1km circuit has been designed, with corners which would take drivers past iconic landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square.
Last night Santander held a celeb event at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall to launch its concept, with McLaren drivers Hamilton and Button racing the track via a simulator - Button triumphing 2-1 in three one-lap challenges.
Hamilton said: “Having been immersed in this project, having helped to shape this track, it feels as real to me as anywhere I’ve raced.
“Jenson and I worked in the simulator to provide some useful feedback to inform the circuit design, so this is far more than whimsical thinking out loud.
“I have to say, this is an utterly epic track and would produce the most stunning and compelling Formula One race.
“A grand prix here (in London) would be the best thing in the world, the biggest event, sensational.
“If you add an event of this complexion to London’s staggering roster of world-class sporting events, it surely would have to own the title of the ultimate sporting metropolis.”
He added: “How many people in London? How many would turn up to this grand prix if you had it in the summer?
“The turnout would be phenomenal. It would be millions.”
A more sceptical Button said: “Personally, do I like the idea of having a London Grand Prix? Yes, the more grands prix in the UK the better. But I’m not sure where it would be. There was talk of using the Olympic Stadium, which could be quite a lot of fun.
“I’m not sure you would be able to close down London for a grand prix, but it’s a nice idea though, a great hypothetical track to drive.”
Even if F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone helped fund the scheme, there would still be huge financial and logistical hurdles to overcome before any London grand prix could take place.
Ecclestone is upbeat though. He said: “The idea of an F1 street-race in London is something I have had for many years. It would be magnificent.
“A couple years ago we came very close to an agreement with the City of Westminster and the Mayor’s office, but we ran into the small problem of cost.
“A few years back over half a million people turned up to watch F1 cars parading through the streets of the capital. So the public’s appetite for a London Grand Prix is huge, as I am sure it is with the F1 teams and sponsors.”
With suggestions that a grand prix could generate up to £100 million in revenue, Mayor of London Boris Johnson has not surprisingly given the scheme his backing – albeit very cautiously.
He said: “I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth. 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.”
Bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of just 1-33 a London Grand Prix does not arrive until at least 2016.
All in all, a London F1 race is still very much in the realm of fantasy rather than reality – but what do you think of the idea? Would you be in favour? Would you watch? Have your say add your comments below.