The notion of a London grand prix reared its head again yesterday when the Formula One power broker Bernie Ecclestone admitted that he was baffled that previous plans to stage one had not succeeded.
In 2004, a demonstration of Formula One cars, organised by Ecclestone and Harvey Weinstein, was run on a rudimentary track that embraced Regent Street in the West End. It attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, but nothing came of it despite what appeared to be mayoral approval from Ken Livingstone. Organisers have since said that it would be too expensive to stage a race in the capital, where streets would have to be closed off and some businesses would lose money as a result.
"It would cost a small amount compared to what they're spending on the Olympics," Ecclestone argued, alluding to the London Games in 2012.
Speaking at the launch of the official 2007 Formula One seasonal review on DVD, he added: "If they look at it from a pure business point of view, all the revenue it would bring in... I just don't understand why it isn't happening."
The 77-year-old added that plans for a London grand prix had been proceeding "nicely" until they stalled over money. "It would have happened, it was just a question of where the money was going to come from."
Ecclestone also raised fresh controversy over Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix which could be threatened by a race in London, and suggested that the venue's contract might not be renewed when it runs out in 2009. "Britain is supposed to be the heart of Formula One and our circuit is bottom of the list," he said, making a familiar point. "With a tiny percentage of what the government are wasting on the Olympics, they could support Silverstone."Reuse content