Up until this point it may have only appeared in video games, but last night the possibility of a London Grand Prix was made a reality.
At an unveiling event hosted by Santander, a short film and interactive simulation was on display showing the possibilities of a Formula One race around the streets of the capital.
With all eyes on London during a year in which the Diamond Jubilee has been celebrated and the 2012 Olympic Games will be contested, the buzz around the capital was increased following the announcement.
While nothing is in place for such an illustrious race, it is being mooted as a realistic venture, with suggestions that it could generate as much as £100 million for London’s economy during race weekend.
Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone talked-up the potential of a race, by offering to stump up the estimated £35 million it will cost to stage such a race, which will see London join Monaco, Valencia and Singapore as one of the F1 calendar’s signature street circuits.
Ecclestone commented: “The idea of an F1 street-race in London is something I have had for many years. It would be magnificent. A couple of 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. The public’s appetite for a London Grand Prix is huge as I am sure it is with the F1 teams and sponsors.”
McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button unveiled the circuit, and have been part of the process in devising the 14 corner, 5.1km circuit which features a start grid on The Mall, a 192mph Santander straight in the run up to Buckingham Palace and with perhaps one of the most audacious corners anywhere on the sport’s twenty race global calendar, the London Grand Prix route circuit will steer 24 cars from Trafalgar Square into Admiralty Arch.
Speaking a Q&A session afterwards, 2009 world champion Button described the idea as “fantastic” saying: “There have been times when I’ve been sitting in the back of a black taxi and idly thought to myself, ‘This would make a pretty good corner on a racetrack.’
“If we ever could have a London Grand Prix, I think it would be spectacular and would be such a great addition to the city’s status as one of the world’s greatest sporting capitals.
“We did an F1 street demonstration on Regent Street a few years ago, and half a million people came out to watch – I remember the sight of thousands of people on rooftops and balconies on every storey of every building along the route. There’s a mammoth following for Formula One in the UK and a race in the city would be at the heart of everything, easily reachable by public transport. It would be a fantastic race for the drivers and the fans alike.”
Check out a video of a lap around London below: