London Grand Prix: Could It Really Happen?

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London Grand Prix: Could It Really Happen?
Tom Dulat/Getty Images

The possibility of a Formula 1 race around the streets of London has once again been raised.

A fantasy circuit created by banking giant (and sponsor of everything, it appears) Santander, created with input from McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, features a 5.1-kilometre blast around some of the city's most famous landmarks.

Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square are all driven past or around on the central London track, a video of which is available on Santander's LGP2012 website.

It probably wasn't supposed to be taken seriously—one would struggle to drive a Mini safely around the layout they came up with—but it's generated a lot of interest and prompted much debate.

A second proposal, revealed earlier in the month, is for a street circuit around the Olympic Park in East London.

Such a track wouldn't have the limitations imposed by historic landmarks, and could for the most part be built with F1 in mind. The question of safety could be better addressed at this venue, and though it's a short distance from the tourist areas, it's still in London.

Local politicians and business groups are split on the idea of a race at one location or another, but it received support (of sorts) from the highest level. According to Peter Woodman of The Independent, London Mayor Boris Johnson said the financial side would need closer inspection, and added:

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.

And F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone—who has long held dreams of a race around London—even went so far as to indicate the sport would pay for the event, telling The Times:

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... It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England—a lot better than the Olympics.

With Silverstone holding a contract to stage the British Grand Prix until 2027, any race in London would be a second race for the UK, and London Grand Prix would be the likely name.

But could such a race become a reality?

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