Video: A lap of the imaginary London GP track
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jun 2012   |  8:57 am GMT  |  84 comments

Here is the on board lap of the imaginary F1 track around London which was such a talking point yesterday.

The launch event last night was an interesting affair; Bernie Ecclestone, predictably, did not show up. It was his intervention with the Times newspaper that turned this from a light hearted PR stunt by Santander UK with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button ahead of the British Grand Prix, which the bank also sponsors, into something of a monster; with TV networks, radio stations and other media clamouring to cover it.

Last night’s event went from being a champagne and canapés evening to release a tongue in cheek CGI film, to a “launch of ambitious plans, by Bernie Ecclestone”.

As he has done before, putting an eye catching number on it, like the £35 million he said he would personally invest to see it happen, gave the thing its legs. This echoes the £1 million cash prize fund he promised in 1993 for a head to head between F1 and IndyCar when he was concerned about the impact Nigel Mansell was making in IndyCar.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson, had to tread cautiously yesterday. He wasn’t at the launch but said that he was “broadly positive” about the idea, but that London would need to assess whether the economic impact would match up with the disruption to the city.

“The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at,” said the Mayor. “I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”

Much of the talk last night was of how this story had happened and there are clearly a number of dimensions to it.

It was lost on no-one that the Times front page splash on the London GP story diverted attention away from the sentencing of Gerhard Gribkowsky in Munich on corruption charges relating to $44 million payments from Ecclestone. That story was covered on Wednesday night but by Thursday the London GP story had ensured the Gribkowsky headlines were brief.

Ecclestone now waits to see if the prosecutors in Munich will try to mount a case against him and much of the talk last night was about that and what would happen if a prosecution were to be launched.

Ecclestone also took the opportunity to give one of F1’s leading sponsors a boost at a time when Spanish banks are under serious pressure due to the Euro crisis. With Santander having its credit rating lowered earlier this month and Santander having a very large investment in the sport via McLaren, Ferrari and several GP sponsorships, Ecclestone gave the bank a media splash worth tens of millions.

It’s easy to be cynical and dismiss it out of hand, but as always with Ecclestone there is a kernel of truth to it; there is no doubt that Ecclestone has always liked the idea of a street race around his home city, which is why this keeps coming up in one form or another, but the truth is that it’s probably as far off today as it has ever been.

The word is that Silverstone has been rather underwhelmed by the story, coming a week ahead of the British Grand Prix. But the noise will have well and truly died down by next weekend and Silverstone with its large, passionate crowd will put on a great show and underline why it has a 17 year contract to host the event and why a London Grand Prix makes a nice film, but not a reality.

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Just watched the London GP lap with the sound off as it was Formula E electric – mmm seems to lack something. The promo car obviously had a tape loop and an amplifier


As most say, more smokescreen nonsense to promote Santander and hide the Gribby trial using the Olympic city hype.

Interesting lap though, missed many an apex and definitely clipped the wall on the left hander 33 seconds in, wonder if it Santander based the lap on Lewis or Jenson. Perhaps their tyres were shot…

Good to hear Derek Warwick just tear Lewis and Jenson a new one on why they should, as BRDC memebers, so heavily promote this nonsense at the expense of Silverstone.


Looks like Project Gotham Racing 3 to me, but less well drawn.

James Showalter

A concrete canyon with lights. And with a single-lane funnel right before start/finish. Not even a dream. A very very expensive nightmare.



Am I right in thinking there are interesting UK TV implication IF this London Grand Prix were to go ahead?

As i understand it, the current deal between the BBC and Sky is that the BBC have the first pick of three GPs, then Sky choose 3 they would like to have exclusively, and so on…

Should the London GP go ahead, surely that would give the BBC a big headache, as they would have to choose three from Monaco, Silverstone, London and the final race, neither of which they will want to have as just highlights!


It won’t go ahead, so I wouldn’t worry about that


Anyone played Need For Speed SHIFT would know there is a London street track in the game. The game developer were obviously fond of the thought ‘what if’ you can race London like the way you would in Singapore or Monte Carlo.

Love that track on the game. It has a long straight, some tricky turns with undulation, changing grip surfaces and walls on both sides. It really makes you try hard to go fast. And rewards you want u get it right but bites hard if u get it wrong.


Who did the lap? Can’t have been a real driver. Missed apexes, late on the power and clobbered the left-hand wall at one point…

Actually, was it you Pastor? 😉


As an irish F1 fan this would be great to have a London grand prix, it would make it so excessible to us. However is it really feasible. I mean is there enough space in London to build big grandstands to keep the money men in F1 happy and the fans or is this just a cynical attempt to keep silverstone on it’s toes. Either way even the talk of a London grand prix is exciting!


I think this is a story to take away from the banker getting jailed. Bernie has even offered to pay for it, hahahahaha!


Pay for the banker or the track ;-)?


Reminds me of some of the old tracks from the GT series of games. GT5 even has a London circuit which is much more fun (but rather shorter) than this one.

It’ll never happen anyway. Even if they do manage to resurface the track completely, guarantee some utility company will turn up with a permit to dig it all up to replace a broken cable the week before, then leave a ‘temporary’ patch for the next decade!!!


oh boy, not another Valencia. you cant compare this track with Silverstone or spa just because you have cool spots around the circuit

if that is the track, it is BORING


“The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at,” said the Mayor. “I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”

Come on Boris, surely shutting off part of central London for a few F1 cars can only improve air quality!


the original design was a result of the magazine Autosport competition held in 1969


Interesting that the 1969 circuit design also went throught admirality arch. If the cars where slowed down enough why would it be a problem.


While for one I’m not wasting my breath or index fingers discussing it for obvious reasons.

However it’s interesting to note in the article that those in the industry are animatedly discussing the situation vis-a-vis Ecclestone and the possibility of an European Arrest Warrant.

Had Ecclestone attended would the fear of censure stilted the conversation just as it has UK press coverage of the Gribkowsky trial?


Just a thought, if the London Marathon can happen and the Notting Hill Carnival; why not a London GP? I appreciate the cost involved would be much more than for the aforementioned events but people have got the money. It was reported that the number of people that could attend the race would only be about 30K and the tickets would cost £500. I reckon 30K would pay that to see this race. Also, if F1 was concerned about spectators they’d do more to get more bums on seats at some of the fly-away races. Also, when you think about all the permanent tracks built around the world that are not being used by F1 but could be, Istanbul Park Circuit, Fuji Speedway, Mugello, A1 Ring, Magny Cours, Paul Ricard, Circuito de Jerez etc etc surely it makes sense to have some temporary tracks, the cost can’t be much more than building the aforementioned white elephants and attendance would be higher due to convenience.


The London Marathon does not involve resurfacing 5 miles of road, it does not close the centre of London for a week, you don’t have to remove and replace several hundred traffic islands and speed bumps.

Notting Hill Carnival is by no means the centre of London.


Good points. How do you know it would require the road to be resurfaced? There is a possibility the road and street ‘furniture’ could be designed that it is easily removed and replaced. I appreciate the NH Carn is not held in Cent Lond but it apparently brings in about 600K people, therefore a lot of disruption for several days. The closing of roads around the proposed route for a week would be inconvenient but it could be tolerated. I think what I am saying is if there is the will it could be done cost is a factor as well as inconvenience but they are hurdles that could be got over.


Having walked a lot of that track as a commuter, agreed with the logistical problems. Not to mention security problems.

I once had a puncture on my rear tyre after driving round from embankment onto the road up to Westminster.

Having pulled over just short of the cenotaph I was confronted within 30 seconds by two motor biking armed police.

I’d love a gp to happen in london though. Would be great.


” How do you know it would require the road to be resurfaced?”

I’ve rode over large parts of it.

“here is a possibility the road and street ‘furniture’ could be designed that it is easily removed and replaced.”

So the current furniture would still need to be removed and replaced.

To be honest, the one thing that kills the idea dead is the very concept of running the things through a third of Admiralty Arch.


That looks awesome. Please may it happen. I’d prefer a day-time race though. At night it is hard to show off the city. FP1 and FP2 could be held at night.


Hi James, Thanks for putting that up, great to watch.

Is it me, or are there no passing opportunities (less than Monaco!!).

Would be spectacular, but surely the logistics would be insurmountable – even for Bernie!


Ps. Are you still on Radio 5 for GP coverage?


Yes, I’ll be fronting it in Silverstone.


Man….. that would be so cool! I love going to silverstone for the atmosphere and knowledge of it’s supporters. Having a GP in London would enhance all the feelings you get from noise and smell, like the goose bumps you get when 24 F1 cars pile round the first corner. And as a PlayStation F1 enthusiast I would love to drive it Just for that bit into the Mall! Threading through that chicane and a double apex left hand. We can only dream 🙂


Hello James, would be interested in hearing some more about the 1993 head to head, I’ve not seen any mention of this before, would be nice to have the full story if you know it?


It was when I was an editor at Autosport. Bernie was uncomfortable with the amount of coverage Mansell was getting in IndyCar and so he offered £1m cash prize for a race F1 vs IndyCar. It’ll be in Autosport archives. Someone will have it. Post it here if you do or send me a scan of the news article from the mag and I’ll post it.


Reckon James May might have saved a copy in his own computer or kept several copies? 😀


There is a ready made tunnel along that route why not use it?

It’s about the same curve and length as the monaco but its got a steepish down and up and then there could be a hair pin at the top to double back to H Park Corner…

Getting carried away there! but it is a nice route…


Never happen, will it?


why did they cgi it at night ? would have thought it would look tons better during day ? harder to cgi ?

also with all those barriers , you could not see much of london 🙂

anyway , would be a nice dream , would be a great one off race … but dont think it will happen



Although the concept looks like a rival to Silverstone, I think it will help to focus people in the UK on the upcoming British GP.


No way they’re going to pass under the Admiralty Arch!

Richard Williams

Certainly not the way it is laid out here; just enough room for one car and with concrete pillars either side going through the arch at over 100mph is just asking for trouble. Some sort of chicane, like the Singapore sling, might make it possible, though.


Yeah right!!! Ok what else can we imagine? A grand prix on water – oops BE already suggested this at his own race track in France…

Hey, what about the “Unite Europe Africa GP” – Lets build a temporary track between Gibraltor and North Africa….

Or even the “Theme Park GP”. Apparently F1 cars create so much downforce that they could drive upside down in a tunnel. Why not get them doing roller coaster style loops the loops and twists even Evil Knieval style jumps…..Hey the Grand Canyon GP – there’s a plan.

I already mentioned yesterday the “Underground GP”…could run it in the Channel Tunnel -probably more visually interesting than Valencia…

Maybe we could have the “War Zone GP” Teams run the gauntlet in Homms, whilst the Syrian army shell the spectators… Survival is winning.




Channel Tunnel would result in making the first drag race for F1 though.


Looks like an awesome layout and far more pleasing to the eye than a load of blue walls and containers in Valencia!

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