The prospect of an F1 race taking place on the streets – or, more specifically, in the parks – of London has surfaced once again as the sport's off-season downtime allows for daydreaming.
Britain's Sunday Times
newspaper resurrected the concept of a London Grand Prix as it confirmed that legislation making it easier for councils to hold high-speed sporting events is ready to appear before Parliament. Prime minister David Cameron announced back in 2014 that, following a government consultation, the powers-that-be were prepared to change the law to allow motor racing on UK roads, opening the door to a potential F1 race in the English capital, while London mayor, Boris Johnson, has never made any secret of his own interest in such an event, especially after being given a chance to sample Formula E on the series' visit to Battersea Park in 2015.
“I am certainly willing to look at it,” he told Britain's Guardian
newspaper last summer, “I am always interested in projects that attract jobs and bring growth. The question of air quality and noise impact will have to be looked at, [but] I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues.”
The most high-profile proposal for a London F1 race appeared in 2012, with then McLaren team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button supporting a plan fronted by sponsor Santander
, but the idea of a race around the capital's streets has been bouncing around for some time, with series czar Bernie Ecclestone – who reckons such a race could rival the spectacle of Monaco - once having offered to cover the cost of staging the event.
The Department for Transport said ministers hoped to make it easier for local authorities to manage their own sports events, and legislation would be taken forward 'in due course'. The proposal to be put before parliament would amend the Road Traffic Act and allow for road closures to accommodate races – a process that, currently, can take months to achieve.
Ecclestone and Johnson aside, a London race is likely to attract support from other quarters, regardless of whether it ever becomes a reality.
“When I was racing… we nearly had a race round Hyde Park and that was turned down by police,” Sir Stirling Moss was quoted by the Sunday Times
, “If there's any way they can get a local council to do it now, then it's absolutely fantastic.”