London Grand Prix: A Road Track To Rival Monaco

By BethPH Last edited 70 months ago
London Grand Prix: A Road Track To Rival Monaco

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has offered to stump up £35m for a central London Grand Prix.

Just days after backing a proposal to build a Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit at Stratford's Olympic Park, Ecclestone has said he believes a road race could attract up to 300,000 spectators and boost London's economy:

"With the way things are, maybe we would front it and put the money up for it. If we got the OK and everything was fine, I think we could do that. Think what it would do for tourism. It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics."

F1 is a big crowd-puller — in 2004, around 400,000 people turned up to watch former GP champion Nigel Mansell drive a Jordan F1 car up Regent Street.

Plans for the circuit will be released later on today, but the Metro reports that the starting grid would be on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, with drivers racing around the 5.1km (3.2-mile) West End course 59 times.

A London street circuit could be a better proposition than a purpose-built track — the racing is often more interesting (except for this year's Monaco Grand Prix perhaps). It would also presumably eliminate the requirement for the track to pay for itself by hosting other motorsport events, surely a relief to the residents of Stratford.

See a CGI-generated video clip of a potential London Grand Prix.

Photo by Kris Doubleyou in the Londonist Flickr pool.

Last Updated 28 June 2012

Nicolas Chinardet

Please, no!


Please, yes!


I think it's a great idea.


Absolutely yes!  Remember Regents street a few years back?!   Bring it on!


the link does not work


What has been written above is fine and accurate as far as it goes...however I feel that most Londonist readers who don't suffer from my (regrettable) addiction to F1 might be mislead by it.

The short version is this.  F1 is constantly wrapped up in its own internal politics.  All of the participants like to try to manipulate the media to their own advantage, and none of them are more adept at this than the man who controls the commercial rights to the sport - Bernie Ecclestone.


The long version is far too tedious for anyone who has a life to read.  I'm sorry.  I'm an F1 obsessive but here goes....

In more detail - 

I've been following F1 obsessively for more years than I care to remember.  One pattern that recurs over and over is the remarkable tendency for stories which Ecclestone might wish to be buried being overshadowed by a surprising announcement from, err... Bernie Ecclestone.
In recent weeks a prominent banker, Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky has been convicted and jailed for accepting a bribe in the sale of the Formula One Group. The person who is alleged to have paid the bribe is Ecclestone.
Ecclestone denies that he paid a bribe. Essentially he says that Gribkowski was going to report him to the tax authorities in the UK, and create a huge and complex investigation.  Rather than go through this process, Ecclestone paid him to cease and desist.

To quote from the BBC:

In his testimony, Mr Ecclestone had said that he had been worried that if he had not paid the money, Gribkowsky would have alerted the UK tax authorities to "things" that might have led to a tax inquiry.

"The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me," he had said.

"The tax risk would have exceeded £2bn," Mr Ecclestone had added, "I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things."

You need to understand the financial workings of the sport.  Basically the circuit pays the commercial rights holder (FOM - headed by B Ecclestone) a fee to run a race on the F1 calendar.  The circuit takes the ticket sales, and FOM take the rest (sponsorship, TV money etc etc).  A percentage of FOM's cash is then split between the teams and the sporting body (the FIA).

There are only a limited number of races that can be held per year and it therefore turns into something of an auction.  Who is prepared to pay most to get their race on the calendar?
Some races have a guaranteed place (e.g. Monaco) and some have a favoured place.  There is a constant balance to be struck between the 'classic' races in Europe and the newer (better funded) races in places like Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singapore etc.

In this context you realise that what Ecclestone is saying is not that there will be a London Grand Prix.  What he is actually doing is delivering a message to the circuits who currently have a place on the calendar - he's saying 'You are replaceable'.  If you don't want to pay the fee then we can find someone who does.