Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button unveil London Grand Prix plan


Santander, the bank, last night officially revealed its dramatic concept for a Formula One grand prix on the streets of London, with the support of Bernie Ecclestone and world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who drive for the McLaren team which they sponsor.

The proposed 5.1km course would start in The Mall before heading through St James' and past the Ritz then up to Piccadilly before turning down past the Wellington monument to the Palace and then back to The Mall via Birdcage Walk and The Embankment.

The concept seeks to plug into the current excitement generated by the Olympic Games, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and next week's Santander-backed British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and a supporting film shown at the RAC Club explored how an F1 race might look against the backdrop of some of the capital's eldest and most famous landmarks.

Proposals for a grand prix around the Olympic Park have also be sounded out, and Ecclestone is also considering plans for a grand prix around the streets of New Jersey in the United States.

"The idea of an F1 street race in London is something I have had for many years," said Ecclestone. "It would be magnificent. A couple of years ago we came very close to an agreement with the City of Westminster and The Mayor's office but we ran into the small problem of cost.

"A few years back over half a million people turned-up to watch F1 cars parading through the streets of the capital. The public's appetite for a London Grand Prix is huge, as I am sure it is with teams and sponsors."

Hamilton, who with Button has been closely involved in the design of the circuit, said: "Having been immersed in this project, it feels as real to me as anywhere I've raced. Jenson and I have worked in the simulator to provide some useful feedback to inform the circuit design, so this is far more than whimsical thinking out loud. And I have to say, this is an utterly epic track and would produce the most stunning and compelling Formula One race."

There are several obstacles to overcome first, though, not least the fact Silverstone has a contract for the British race that runs until 2027.