Formula One chief, Bernie Ecclestone, announced his vision to turn London into a 180mph race track. He offered to provide £35m backing for the project, which could be the first time since 1938 that London has hosted an international competitive motor race.
The proposal for the supercars to race around a 3.2 mile circuit was revealed with a video presentation by Jenson Button and McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Pall Mall at the RAC Club.
The powerful supercars would pass Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons and race along the Thames before retuning back via Piccadilly Circus, which is expected to take just 93 seconds.
Hamilton said, “A grand prix here would be the best thing in the world, the biggest event, sensational.”
However, taxi drivers, green campaigners and business leaders have voiced their concerns about the project and Westminster Council who would be responsible for the tracked said that they have not been asked about the plans.
Experts also pointed out that the route took in Admiralty Arch had three single lane arches which would be impossible for motor racing.
Another plan to turn Stratford’s Olympic Stadium into a Formula 1 track is currently being considered by the London Legacy Development Corporation. Other attempts to stage a race in London have failed, although a popular demonstration event was held through the West End in 2004.
Boris Johnson said “I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”
Supporters said that the event could by watched by 120,000 spectators and net £100m for the London economy.
However, the deputy leader of Westminster City Council, Robert Davis, said that the plans had come out of the blue. He said “This is an event that would have obvious benefits to London in terms of finance and profile – but the council will wish to also put forward any concerns we receive from residents.”
London Assembly member for the Green Party, Darren Johnson asked the Mayor to reject the “crazy” plan.
The chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, John Thomas, said that drivers were already being affected by the rank changes and rank closures because of the Olympics which is losing cabbies money when times are already hard, especially with the cost of fuel and taxi insurance policies. He said, “This is their shop floor – it is their place of work,
“There will be more tourists but there will also be disruption. I just hope that whoever organises it is not the same person who organised the Olympics.”
Some business leaders are cautious about the plan. Jace Tyrell of the New West End Company, which represents retailers said, “Do we want events to promote the city around the world? Yes, we do. But we need to make sure it doesn’t impact on traders.”
Ecclestone, says “It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics.”