Well, here it is, an official film of the first London Grand Prix. It has got its sponsor’s names all over it and only really features two cars, both of them belonging to the sponsor, but that doesn’t stop it being rather good.
To repeat what we said earlier, this isn’t as flighty as it might seem. Santander, who have coughed up for the whole thing, didn’t just call on one of the West End’s many CGI factories, they also paid a visit to ‘project architects’ Populous who treated it as seriously as any of their Olympic, World Cup or other mammoth stadia projects. So this could happen, have no doubt about that.
Bernie Ecclestone’s promise to pay for it himself only serves to add to its credibility. He’s on record now suggesting that the City of Westminster and Boris Johnson agreed to a similar idea a couple of years ago, but money was the stumbling point.
So now it’s not any longer… Boris?
The circuit starts on the lower half of the Mall, where the teams would be based in specially designed garages and sponsor-fluffing stations. From there it’s a quick blast and a right turn through and in to St James. Then up the hill to the Ritz, left on to Green Park and down to Hyde Park Corner. Another blast down Constitution Hill to the Palace, bow to Her Maj, and over to Birdcage Walk and Parliament Square. From there it’s slow down to the Victoria Embankment, turning left just before Waterloo Bridge up to Trafalgar Square and through a very narrow stretch under the middle of Admiralty Arch and back on The Mall.
That’s a 5.156km lap (3.2miles), so would be a 59 lap race. Max speed is estimated to be 190mph. Jenson and Lewis, smoothies that they are, do seem to have genuinely enjoyed their time on the simulator. They even raced it live tonight at the project’s launch (although reports that Jenson couldn’t get the setup quite right were unconfirmed as we went to press).
The film below shows a night race, and not just because it’s easier to do CGI when it’s dark: the Santander/Populous/Bernie scheme calls for a night race, Singapore style. There’s nothing wrong with that: it would be an epic night out. The team behind it are claiming costs would be a fraction of the Olympic costs, meaning 47 races could be run for the same price as the Games.
So what’s possibly stopping it? Well, just about every NIMBY in the South of England we imagine. Though after the Jubilee road closures failed to create the traffic Armageddon the papers were predicting, we doubt that will be an argument, especially when the economic benefits are taken in to account: F1 teams spend big when they are in town.
We have no doubt some as-yet-undiscovered breed of carp will be found in the pond in St James’ Park, or some Royal Statute of old will be invoked, but we hope not. Sure, it’s a publicity stunt, but if it’s looking for support, we’re in. You?
Here’s Jenson and Lewis introducing the circuit:
And here’s a high-speed lap from driver cam: