Bernie Ecclestone's dream of Grand Prix in London is heading for the pits

The Formula One boss has revealed his vision for a race around the West End – but he's got a fight on his hands with the city's taxi drivers

A plan to turn some of the capital's most congested streets into a 180mph race track was veering towards the pits last night as Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone's vision for a London Grand Prix was announced. It could be the first time since 1938 that the city has hosted an international competitive motor race with billionaire Mr Ecclestone offering to provide £35m backing for the project.

Under the proposal, which was unveiled during a glitzy video presentation by Lewis Hamilton and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button at the RAC Club in Pall Mall, powerful supercars would race around a 3.2-mile circuit.

They would pass Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons and race alongside the Thames before returning via Piccadilly Circus – a route expected to take only 93 seconds.

Former world champion Mr Hamilton said: "A grand prix here would be the best thing in the world, the biggest event, sensational."

But green campaigners, business leaders and taxi drivers raised concerns about the plan, while Westminster Council, which would be responsible for the track, said it had not been consulted.

Motor sport insiders insisted it was little more than a pipe dream long-held by Mr Ecclestone. Experts pointed out that the route took in Admiralty Arch and that its three single-lane arches made it impossible for motor racing.

A similar plan to turn the Olympic Stadium in Stratford into an F1 track is currently being considered by the London Legacy Development Corporation. It is feared the street race, sponsored by Spanish banking giant Santander, could cause a month of disruption, as it does in Monaco. Previous attempts to stage the race in the capital have failed, although a demonstration event through the West End in 2004 was popular.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said he would need to be convinced of the economic case for the event, which comes amid trepidation over city-wide disruption during the Olympics. "I am broadly positive providing we can satisfy the air quality and noise issues," he said.

Backers claimed the event could net £100m for the London economy and be watched by 120,000 spectators. But Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said the announcement had come out of the blue. "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," he said.

Darren Johnson, London Assembly member for the Green Party, urged the Mayor to veto the "crazy" plan.

John Thomas, chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said his members were being hit by the imposition of route changes and rank closures as a result of the Olympics.

"This is their shop floor – it is their place of work," he said. "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."

Business leaders cautiously welcomed the idea. Jace Tyrrell 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."

Mr Ecclestone, 81, believes the race would be a winner. "It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics."

However, the announcement comes a day after a former business associate of Mr Ecclestone was jailed for more than eight years by a German court for tax evasion and bribery. The case centred on a £28m payment by the motor racing supremo made in connection with the sale of a stake in Formula One to a private equity group in 2006. Mr Ecclestone admitted making the payment but said it was to avoid being blackmailed. He denied any wrongdoing, and said he was now facing an inquiry into his tax affairs by the UK authorities.

 



Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home