In an interview with the media this week, McLaren driver Jenson Button believes that a Grand Prix around the streets of London could become a reality in the near future. The British Government have announced a consultation on motorsport events that are closed-road within mainland Britain. The consultation is due to run for six weeks through to the 10th April.
It would seem that the primary objective of this consultation is to introduce a way for the likes of events such as stage rallies, sprints and hill climbs that would take place on limited British roads. This would introduce the prospect of Formula One heading to London a little more likely.
There have been plans to introduce a London Grand Prix 20 months ago by British Grand Prix sponsors Santander. Santander 20 months ago introduced a 14 corner, 51.km circuit which incorporated landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square.
Even though there would be logistical issues to deal with if the Grand Prix took place, Button stated to the media his hopes that this idea might be brought to life in the near future. Button stated the following:-
‘When I first saw the plans for a London Grand Prix, I knew they were ambitious, but fantastic. The thought of a race through the capital’s streets was only a dream when they initiated the project, but this week’s changes to the law bring the idea a step closer to reality. When you really picture what it would look like its truly mind blowing.’
I would have to agree with Button. For London to host a Grand Prix through its own streets would be fantastic. Not only would the drivers enjoy the challenge that the circuit would present, but it would also attract a new audience and existing fans to the Grand Prix and also the sport.
Button further on with the interview that he would be happy if the race made it onto the calendar in the near future. Button added the following:-
‘You could create such a unique Grand Prix through the streets of London- the roads are naturally very wide and long so straightline speeds would be high, and you could create a real blend of corners. When you combine all of that with the world-famous monuments that would feature in the backdrop you can see why it would be an awesome addition to the calendar.
‘The dream has taken a step closer this week, and I’d love to see this amazing concept finally happen.’
It would be hard not to disagree with Button. The London Grand Prix would be an amazing addition to the Formula One calendar. The circuit would certainly present the teams and drivers with a real challenge and also be able to take in some of London’s fantastic scenery and tourist spots. I really hope that they are able to make even further progress on this and that it will be added to the calendar in the near future.
After the change in the law was announced this week, The Motor Sports Association (MSA) who have campaigned long and hard for Britain to follow the lead taken by many overseas countries who have staged closed-road events for years has welcomed the news.
In an interview with the media MSA acting chief executive Rob Jones stated the following:-
‘This is the news British motor sport has been waiting for. It represents an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the landscape of our sport, allowing local communities across the country to host motor sport events and enjoy all the excitement and economic benefit they bring. However, to make that vision a reality we need everybody involved in our sport, from competitors and volunteers to clubs and organisers, to respond positively to the government consultation before the 10 April deadline.
‘The government’s enthusiasm for closed-road motor sport, and its launch of a public consultation, is the culmination of years of hard work behind the scenes. We now have to demonstrate the support that exists for closed-road motor sport around the country.’
It is great to see that the British Government are finally starting to take the idea of a Grand Prix in London seriously after many years of hard work by the MSA. I believe just like Button that it is a fantastic idea and I am behind the idea of it. This Grand Prix will no doubt attract many British Formula One fans to come to the Grand Prix alongside the existing Grand Prix currently held in Silverstone.
In this current economic climate, this must just be what Formula One needs in order to attract and maintain audience figures around the world which have dropped by 50 million in 2013. As there is no doubt that if a Grand Prix took place in London, this would also help the British economy and also help London’s tourism figures substantially. But it would also help Formula One grow further and expand into new and exciting opportunities that many fans like me would not have imagined to be possible.
I really do hope that the British people and British Formula One fans back the idea of London having a Grand Prix in the near future as I do truly believe the Grand Prix will happen and added to the Formula One calendar sooner rather than later.