Bernie Ecclestone remains fixated by the possibility of running an F1 race through the streets of London, but insists that it will not happen unless the British government comes on board.
Two separate proposals for race in the capital were unveiled in the build-up to this year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone – one in dramatic CGI form by Santander UK and another via speculation following confirmation that bids for future use of London's Olympic Park included one from a party looking to stage an F1 race there – but neither has advanced much since then, giving cynics the chance to write them off.
However, Ecclestone's interest was clearly piqued, as he insists that he would be prepared to put up part of the funding necessary to make the event happen – provided that he was met somewhere along the way by the government. His personal preference is for a course that takes in the city's landmarks, rather than the Olympic centre to the east of the centre, but uses the ultra-successful 40th Olympiad as a reminder to the powers-that-be.
“I don't think they would be prepared to put the required amount of money behind it,” the F1 ringmaster admitted in an interview with business website cityam.com
, “We would make a large contribution towards the race, whatever it takes to get it done with all the permissions – and we could help the government and council with their costs.”
“We wouldn't go to the Olympic Park, and I don't think anybody [else] is serious about a grand prix in London, but I think [the government] did a good job with the Olympics. It is the first time I have been proud of England. They showed that England can do it if they have to. The population was behind it. I just think that F1 could do the same job for a lot less.
“Let's look at the worst-case scenario, which they wouldn't need to, and say a race in London costs them £31m a year. Over ten years, that is £310m. What is that as a percentage of the £10bn they spent on the Olympics? And you are going to get good coverage for ten
“The Olympics got incredible coverage in England. They got 28m viewers for the opening, which is near half the population, so it was good. And even that guy who ran very quickly, 22m watched him. It is unbelievable.”