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Will the London Grand Prix happen?
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jun 2012   |  10:15 am GMT  |  177 comments

A story in the Times today has sent echoes around the world, with the proposal from Bernie Ecclestone to stage a Grand Prix in London around the Capital’s most famous landmarks.

Ecclestone is reportedly willing to pay £35 million of his own money to stage the event, in the city in which he has lived for most of his adult life. It would evoke the magic of street races like Monaco and Singapore.

So what’s behind it?

Last week there was talk that an F1 venue could be built using the Olympic Stadium as its hub. But this idea today originated with Santander UK, who have been working with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, as well as sports architects Populous to devise a London Grand Prix course, which passes Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park Corner and other great landmarks.

They have made a CGI film together, which will be launched tonight at an event at the RAC Club in Pall Mall, which I’ll be attending. And you’ll be able to see it here on JA on F1 and elsewhere on the Internet and TV, all being well, later tonight or tomorrow morning.

I’ve had a sneak preview of part of the film and it’s pretty stunning, certainly a very imaginative idea.

It ties in well with the Jubilee celebrations, for which London was the epicentre, and the Olympics and catches that mood of London being the ‘centre of the world’ this summer.

As to whether this race will ever happen, Siverstone has a 17 year contract to host the British Grand Prix, starting 2010, so it would be a second race in the UK.

Ecclestone is apparently sincere in his desire to see his sport hold such a prestigious event in the city he calls home and this exercise is to see what kind of interest there may be from the London Mayor.

Events in the law courts of Germany of course are going on in the background, as explained in another post here.

And promoters from the other F1 venues, which have now formed themselves into an association to fight their corner in a more co-ordinated way in future, might look on with interest at the idea of a race that Ecclestone pays to host, rather than the other way around.

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Personally I’m opposed. We have Monaco, Singapore, Valencia, and Abu Dabi already. We don’t need another street circuit.

Formula one isn’t about passing famous buildings in famous streets its about racing. Why are we contemplating another city race when we have just ditched a fine race circuit in Turkey. Is it better to see cars passing the House of Commons or is it better to see cars flat out through turn 8. I know my choice.

This season the new rules produced more exciting street races. However, the real circuits (proper places to race Formula one cars as Kimi would say) the races were good before the rules were changed. If London means ditching another proper track then definitely we should say no!!!


I could be looking at this all wrong.. But surely if Bernie is saying “.. Hey I will put in £35million if this goes ahead ” doesn’t that sound like “hey we will pay you € 44million if you agree…” . Lol ! I don’t see it happening unless someone really clever works on some major transport infrastructure projects following Olympics which lessens its impact on BusIness etc. anything can be achieved if the motivation is strong enough but then the business case for the city has to be strong.

London has more reason to host than any other city with most teams based there. Perfect in this climate of Budgets and Logistical savings.Hugh well informed fan base that repeadly book out Silverstone. Home of many great sponsors, media, radio. Also let’s face it London is a major hub to Europe capturing all passing through tourists. Think of how many people might see a London GP then follow it to Spain or Germany etc. Still dreaming up the perfect holiday along these lines myself. !!


A F1 race past the Palace, Trafalgar Square? Close down the heart of London for a large part of three days? Not a hope in you-know-where!

On the other hand, what a marvellous bit of mis-direction from Bernie! A surefire way to hide bad news from Germany, amazingly coincidental to those who believe in coincidence.


James could you outline the process that Birminham had to go through to get its race going, and the ructions it caused with the local populace? I remember the Superprix well and loved every minute of it.

With your EV hat on what is known of the plan to race electric cars in the Olympic park? Good support event for a GP? This race would probably be easier to get started as it fits right in with the Olympic Heritage agenda and, like Montreal , it has superb transport links.


I worked at the Superprix – great event. It was Birmingham City Council backed, some real petrol heads there wanted it.

Some local business support e.g. Bristol Street Motors, Ford Dealers and others

And CSS Promotions, with whom I started working in 1989 after University, promoting it and running the media side. The 1989 Superprix was my first professional job, aged 22!


Birmingham was fantastic for the amateur photographer Pershore St Fruit market had a great Multi Story Car Park where you could shoot down in to the car got a great pic of Jean Alesi in EJ’S Reynard. Can still remember someone hanging in to his F3000 car whilst it was lifted off the track. Also got some great shots of the BTCC cars with a disposable panoramic camera. It is a pity the race was suspended perhaps Bernie should look at reviving the working mans Monaco. Probably as many boats in brum now as Monaco !


Having visited Singapore twice now specifically for the GP I can understand why some dislike it. But frankly speaking it seems most love the festival atmosphere it brings and the tourism dollars are welcomed. Particularly as the Sing Tourism slogan used to be (if it isn’t still), “Singapore, your gateway to Malaysia”.

Why is Monaco so reverred? Limited passing opportunity, short straights….. I don’t get it.

Oh, and the Sydney Olympics, where I live, were fantastic. I suspect London will enjoy the same atmosphere.


Monaco’s existence due to their historical status. If they never existed and apply to host an F1 race now their application would immediately get thrown out due to lack of safety runoffs and all sorts of other safety-related issues.

The fact that Monaco gets to pocket every single dollar from running the event without having to pay BE a single cent tells you quite something about its status 🙂


“Having visited Singapore twice now specifically for the GP I can understand why some dislike it. But frankly speaking it seems most love the festival atmosphere it brings and the tourism dollars are welcomed.”

The thing is you visited, as you say, for the GP. The people you will have been mixing with will have been ‘enjoying the festival atmosphere’. The ones who aren’t enjoying it, won’t be around to make their voices heard; they’ll be inside, avoiding it 🙂


Hey James and all others leaving comments. If I lived in the UK I’d go in a heart beat. Lets everyone send Boris, the mayor, (that’s his name, right?) a email and get him on board.


This is Bernie. Even if a London GP was an option it would only happen if it allowed him to shaft the BRDC and Silverstone in the process.

And who is the title sponsor of the British GP?

The loss of Spa as a first class citizen on the calendar is a tradgedy and an outrage and just one more warning that the only thing Bernie cares about is cash, ahem, in hand.

The FIA should use events in Germany to cancel his contract and redress the balance between F1’s history and the desire to simply, Erm, cash in.


Everything talking about London GP and F1 heritage due to UK. Not surprised. Some even linked current Euro GP to the Alonso effect 😀

I’ve wondered for some time, of the current (or even previous) world champions, their respective countries have all at least a round of Grand Prix on the Calender:

MSC, VET: German GP

ALO: Spanish GP


Villeneuve: Canadian GP

Senna: Brazilian GP

Not saying their Grand Prix exist due to their success, but just saying this is what I noticed.

How about Finland?? Why isn’t there one when there were successful Finns like Hakkinen and Raikkonen??


You can add the European GP to both MSC and Alonso, they have both had 2 GPs in their home country, shortly after becoming successful.

Finland’s climate might make a GP a bit difficult?


I’m sure Pirelli / various suppliers and partners can make it work if they really want to.

I recall some team (was it Red Bull?) ran an F1 car on snow for some promo event previously.

If Bernie can bring F1 to the hot (Abu, Bahrain), the night (Singapore) and have his own water sprinkled track (Paul Ricard), why not Finland? 😀

Not a Finn here lol, just think it might be fun.


“this idea today originated with Santander UK, who have been working with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton,”

Eh..?! This is kinda confusing. I thought Santander’s sponsorship of McLaren was a result of Alonso bringing money to McLaren in 2007. It’s always seemed funny to me that Santander is still involved with the British team when they are now also sponsoring Ferrari.

James, so what’s Santander’s position with regards to the two teams? Will Santander pull out of Macca once their contract is complete and focus solely on Ferrari?


As James said, Santander claimed their market share increased some ridiculous amount (was it 3 times?) during their year sponsoring McLaren with Hamilton & Alonso and they saw the sponsorship deal (and Hamilton) as having a lot to do with it. Personally I think it’s because they bought Abbey National and a load of other interests in the UK in the same year, but there you go!

James, I realise Santander is no longer on the McLaren cars, but I seem to remember their name were still on the cars at least in 2009, if I’m not mistaken?


I recall the same.


Santander stayed on as a sponsor with McLaren post Alonso, but sponsors only the drivers; it doesn’t appear on the car.

They also sponsor several GPs, including GB and every year use Button and Hamilton for a pre-Silverstone media splash such as this


Ahh Righto.

How come only the drivers though? o_O Why not pull out entirely post-Alonso McLaren? Any insights?


Captain Lightning

This reminds me of some rubbish from the early 90s that was, if I remember rightly, the GP of Peace that was supposed to be some kind of healing event.

I can’t remember if it was a Bernie thing or some body else’s wet dream but it certainly stuck in my mind.

On a slightly more serious level, Having a GP that takes place once only in a succession of noteworthy locations does have a certain appeal.

GP of love at the Taj Mahal? GP of impalement in Transylvania? GP of Improvisation in Kandahar? GP of civility in Damascus?

Craig in Manila

Sounds excellent, and maybe Bernie can get the royal family to come out onto the balcony (wearing their favourite team’s colours) to wave as the cars roar by ?

I wonder how much money has been spent (ie. wasted) to create this smokescreen.


This reminds me of the semi annual story that appears in the newspapers every time a certain budget airline posts record losses on the same day.

It will be either

a) 1p flights to New York coming soon

b) They are going to pay for you to use the toilet

c) Standing room on the flights.

Bernies a smart man.


Surely, THAT budget airline posts nothing but profits?


Cool. I need to use the toilet a lot. I could make a lot of money on one of those flights 😉


Hi James Great insight as ever. Just saw the CG lap on autosport – nicely done and great promo for Sant… It’s a bit sketchy in reality, just imagine 2 cars come out of the corner at traf sq side by side and fight to get through Admiralty Arch!! actually would be worth seeing.. seems a bit far fetched to me but hope it happens some day, maybe B E can watch it from prison? but that may be more far fetched than the race happening…


Perfect. Living in Paris, this would be near enough to be a local GP without the disruption to my own home city.

Won’t happen of course


Smokescreen, when has he ever paid for anything himself, do CVC agree with losing all these millions, agree it’s a total smokescreen and a pretty blatant one as well. Probably not needed as most people just cynically ignore the real story as yet another corrupt banker article…


If he’s funding it himself, I’m sure CVC would have no problems. If he means CVC when he says ‘himself’ then, yeah, doubt they’d be keen.


Following the San Marino example, perhaps Silverstone could become the Scottish Grand Prix after 2014? Or a street race around Edinburgh, now there’s a prospect… Start in Princes Street, up The Mound, top of the Royal Mile, down Johnstone Terrace into Lothian Road… all with the castle as a central backdrop. After all, the trams are hardly going to get in the way.


Well, If his Bernieness wants it to happen it will happen. Im indifferent personally, it would be a spectacle but I would rather see old classic tracks retained or reinstated than a new one in London. I would imagine the track would have to be more like Monaco in that armco barriers get erected before the race. Anything but the souless grey concrete of Valencia and Singapore, they look like they are racing in an eastern European industrial estate. If Singapore wasnt at night then it would be just as bland as Valencia.

I maintain a good track is one with elevation changes. There are exceptions of course Silverstone and Monza great tracks and are pretty much flat. If you think about all the new tracks over the last 10 – 15 years with the exception of Turkey are dead flat, could be anywhere, soulless and featureless (hotels that cross the track, light up, and ridicuous grandstands dont count as features). The magic of Spa etc is seeing the cars blast through the forest and up the hills, if you made eau rouge flat think about it, all it would be is a stupid flat out left right left chicane…


UK may get a 2nd GP (makes sense, actually), but it won’t be in London, and it won’t be soon. Bernie is working the smoke and mirrors again …


hahaha. this is funny. a GP in London, with the absolute chaos this city is already – “during the Olympics don’t come to London unless you must”. that is what people are being told. oh yeah and Bernie paying for a GP!!! lol. totally agree with the people that say it is a smoke screen. can’t see it happening… your majesty, would you care for your ear plugs now?


F1 definitely needs more street tracks and not like the one at Albert Park, Valencia or Singapore. You can’t see the streets at them! Monte Carlo is a proper street track in my opinion. I think it is a great idea but I doubt it will happen. There have been rumours about it for about 20 years and nothing has happened. Although, maybe BE wants it to be his swan-song. The proposed track in New Jersey, USA looks great, I really hope that idea is made a reality. It looks like it will go past people’s houses and not fantastically expensive houses but ordinary folks houses. That’ll look amazing!


F1 does NOT need anymore street tracks.


Why? I should clarify that the one of the reasons I like the track in Monaco is that you can see the buildings. The lack of overtaking opportunities is a problem.


Sounds wonderful… like a scene out of the cartoon Cars2 😀 or from the video game Need for Speed! Bring it on! 😀


Just seen a teaser. Why is it shown as a floodlight race? Even in the middle of winter there would not be need for floodlights.


The “City” and indeed most other major businesses within London have been making preperations for remote / home working since the 2012 Olympics were awarded, so why not bring a Grand Prix to London in 2012, perfect timing as a one off.


You really think they can have it ready for this year?!! And where in the schedule do you imagine they’ll fit it in??


I’m English and a massive F1 fan but I’m not keen on the idea.

For me the choice of race tracks should be about the racing and not a venue for Corps to show off at.

I detest Singapore and Monaco, sure it’s probably brilliant if you’re there, but the majority of people view it on TV and want to see tracks where you can race at.

I’ll head off the point that Valencia this year was entertaining, but that is not the norm, we all know it.

I can see Buck Palace, Nelson’s Column etc many other ways, and really, will we see much of them other than wide angled far out shots? Lets watch the racing and base where they race on tracks that are good for that, and not it dictated by landmarks.


We’ve had the first night race – day/night race – desert race – races on man made islands – civil war races…

London’s famous for the first underground train system, why not build an underground track in London for F1. Sounds like a plan….

…Maybe when the first footings are dug and the conrete is being poured someone could nudge BE in…


In all seriousness, if it was held in the underground it would probably still be more visually appealing than Singapore and Valencia!

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