A quick question…

I read that the plans for a London Grand Prix are “no joke”. OK, that’s fine.

But here is my question: who is going to pay?

Who is going to pay for the preparation for a Grand Prix? In order to get the roads prepared for a Grand Prix there would be vast amounts of remodelling necessary. The roads mentioned are old and have crowns on them. They would all have to be ripped up and relaid to be flat enough for Formula 1 cars to race on. There would then have to be escape roads and run-off areas and other F1-related paraphernalia which require hardtop surfaces. Thus, if a race were to happen there would still be a significant change in the personality of the route, even with all the F1 furniture removed. I am told by people who know that all of this work would cost in the region of £200 million. It would cause considerable traffic disruption and even if it was achieved there would be plenty of potential for legal action against the promoter for loss of revenue for the businesses that overlook the circuit.

The government are not going to pay. They refuse to pay for Silverstone which has a contract for the British Grand Prix until 2027. London has no money to burn thanks to the Olympic Games and, judging by the scale of the spending on that, London will not have money to spend for many years to come. If money was available, the taxpayers would have a string of suggestions about what it would best be spent on, rather than a once-a-year motor race.

That is one thing. There are others. Who is going to pay for the annual build and dismantling costs of a race on the streets of London. In Melbourne this costs tens of millions each year and the disruption causes some annoyance. In that case the track is largely enclosed in a park so disruption is kept to a minimum, imagine the mess that London would be in. Singapore has similar problems and they have even considered laying out a new course in parkland, not far from the current venue, but somewhere where the disruption will be kept to a minimum.

Finally, who is going to pay the annual fees to get the F1 teams to attend the race? The idea that Formula One will foot the bill is very unlikely. They charge everyone for everything and are not best known for their charity work. If they were, then private equity hawks would not be interested. These people are in it for the money. Solely for the money.

149 thoughts on “A quick question…

  1. I can’t begin to think of how private funding can guarantee a profit from such an enterprise. The only argument that could be made for recourse to public funds is a financial model that demonstrates a substantial return on investment to the economy.

    Despite years of poor summers London does not (to my knowledge) struggle to attract foreign visitors and their Dollars, Euro’s & Yen. Certainly the queue’s outside Madame Tussaude’s on any given weekday testify to that and the year round hotel occupancy and prices further reinforce my opinion. I should probably research my facts I suppose.

    1. The facts are that London has a hotel occupancy rate of around 92 percent, rising to 100 percent when there are events on. It does not need more visitors. It would benefit slightly from people willing to pay more for a room, but most of the tickets would probably go to people living in London and thus economic impact would be train fares rather than hotel bills…

      1. 100% occupancy during events(JS) or a 30% drop during the Olympics(Karen) are both inaccurate. London averages closer to 80% occupancy and is projected to reach around 85% in 2012 even allowing for displacement. An increase in the average room rate and the revenue per available room is projected to be between 1-10% which is a considerable impact across the 100000+ hotel rooms in the capital and should not be ignored in terms of evaluating the returns on a London GP.

              1. Well there are a host of other valid reasons why a GP won’t take place so it is far more interesting to discuss these and the wider context the story fits into rather than quoting inaccurate figures that tend to get recycled from post to post lending them an air of credibility.

                1. As you’re being picky with Joe – where do your figures come from? I’ve found various on the internet.

                  1. Questioning inaccurate figures is hardly being picky. STR Global, Deloittes Global, HVS and PriceWaterhouseCoopers will all provide you with the figures you seek. My point was that the response was assumptive and in line with previous topics regarding the economic impact of grands prix lacked rigour. There are many valid (and more interesting) reasons why a London GP may or may not take place. What was suggested is not one of them.

                    1. Like everyone who uses the internet we can be an instant expert on any subject – touch of button, out it comes, if you have the time. If nothing else this article has acquainted me with London’s hotel occupancy rates past and present (although I should be mowing the lawn).

                      You’re right, it seems the figures are different to those quoted by Joe in response to ‘Shake n Bake’, although they need some interpretation. Joe was discussing the the wider context originally, I thought, before we got on to statistics. He opens up his blog for debate, which is sometimes foolish probably taking into account some the responses and their tone which are often pretty disrespectful.

        1. Just some of the research available about the Olympic slump.
          I think my figures were erring on the side of caution compared the these.

          “Visitors can now secure great bargains as hotels and theatres slash prices to compensate for a slump in bookings caused by the Olympics. Rooms in central hotels can be obtained for as much as 30% below the usual rates and tickets for some West End hits are being offered at half price.”

          “Hotel bookings in the capital are down 35% in July and 30% in August, according to the latest published figures from hotel room wholesaler JacTravel, which books half a million London bed nights a year.”

          Three-star Paddington hotel admits “our bookings for the Olympics period are down 50% on last year, and in August, when we’d expect to be full, it’s completely dead.”

          “Theatre seat bookings have slumped by 20% or more.”

          Getting tables at some high-end restaurants is also proving easier, too. “Celebrity hangout Le Caprice has tables for dinner available on Thursday and Friday evenings throughout late July and all of August, while Gordon Ramsay’s Claridge’s restaurant is available for most sittings any day of the week. There are even tables to be had at Heston Blumenthal’s hugely popular Dinner.”

          Conclusion: The £10 billion tax payer funded Olympics is a disaster for the UK economy, and that’s before you get into the security farce.

          It’s good for politicians though, and the highly paid ‘amateur’ runners and jumpers of course.

    2. I think Joe mentioned in earlier posts that as you say, occupancy rates of London hotels is already near 90%, so not much in the course of bringing in money will happen.

      It really does not make any sense from either that perspective, nor the one mentioned here – costs to make it possible, nor from the perspective of closing the heart of the city for about a month each year.

  2. I’d love to know who said it was no joke. They need to start taking their medication again if they seriously think it’ll happen…

      1. Cheers Joe. I noticed he was quoted in either the Guardian or the Telegraph when I got to work. I don’t believe for one second that it’ll ever happen.

  3. Joe,

    I would love it to be real but It’s not going to happen unless by some small chance it can be pulled into the Olympic park and paid for by private money.

    A great PR coup though,


  4. You are becoming a little bit of a whiner on this subject, Joe. Not your usual half-full glass of wine modus operandi. I would love there to be a London GP. Remember many of us don’t have golden passes to wander around the inner sanctum and the close proximity of cars thrashing around in city canyons is exhilarating. I remember with fondness the F3000 races around Birmingham. It might be difficult but try to see some positives. The more people talking it up might make it not miscarry after a few weeks.

    1. Dear God, I explain something and I am whiner. It is people like you that make me think I am wasting my time with comments.

      1. Don’t be paranoid. Maybe I didn’t make my point well. I don’t read your articles because I am forced. I read them because I find most of them interesting. I particular like your interaction in this blog.

        I just feel that you have written a number of times about how London doesn’t have a chance. I would like to see it happen that is all.

        Anyway, why bother having a comment section if there cannot be some debate even if the opinion does not agree with yours?

      2. You’re not – I’m part of the mostly silent majority and we all appreciate them, and the dialogue. It’s good to have questions answered and things clarified, and I definitely enjoy the fact you engage – in all ways!

      3. Joe, I’ve posted it before and I’ll state it again – you’re the most honest F1 journalist I’ve read. I realize you’re constrained by reality (as we all are), but you give as much of the unvarnished truth as one could expect. I don’t spend my time on “pipe dreams”. I also enjoy your “travelogue/side-trips/historical forays. Please keep blogging. Your blog is a delightful read.

    2. I think the important thing to realize here is not if there is a one in a million chance to get a London GP but why this story is out there at this particular time?

      I think most F1 fans would love to see f1 cars racing through the streets of london, but as Joe poinst out, the numbers don’t add up, the fact that Bernie is offering to pay for the race fees (or wave them) should raise all sorts of red flags. This is all a distraction to get our attention away from Gribkowsky and the german courts.

      What we should be talking about or better yet screaming our lungs out about is how Mr. E has brought the sport into disrepute and making the FIA take action!

      1. Completely agree! Heretofore, any future utterance from eccle$tone should carry the following: Warning! Herr Gribkowsky was convicted of accepting a bribe from eccle$tone and sentenced to eight and one half years in a German prison. It’ll put a damper on the drivel spouted by sylt.

  5. So then the question becomes why do ‘they’ want us to believe that the plans are serious?

    Clearly there is something to be gained here, but for now I just cant see it.

  6. Sorry Joe, for someone normally so well informed it is suprising that you are not aware that there is a queue of Bavarian bankers, 150ft yacht owners, Columbian pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, Nigerian royalty and venture capital syndicates lining up for opportunities like this. They may even use it to leverage and extend their control of London real estate. Finding the piffling little bit of petty cash needed, even if one has to pay the odd introduction fees, should be no problem at all.

      1. Well I don’t have leon’s contacts, but I do agree that money is not an issue here. If the right people want it to happen it will. There are no real stumbling blocks per se – apart from Admiralty Arch !

        However, for anything like this to even get out of the breakfast room it’ll need those people to either see a way of making money out of it, and/or to identify real medium term benefits that’ll accrue to them – personally or commercially – if they back it.

        I think we’re beyond the Govt needing a Glory Project and its not a question of ‘where do we get the money from’. Its more, ‘what do I get of it’.

  7. After the Olympics the fuss will die down as the roads now are getting to saturation point, railway stations are implementing their plans for a million plus users and it will only get worse. Much worse.
    I can’t wait for the Olympics but I know it’s going to be hell for 3 weeks and afterwards I doubt there will be little appetite for something similar while they prepare for the a London GP and then every year.
    Besides, don’t they have to change the law to do this? Haven’t the government got something better to do????

  8. Very familiar situation, Joe – people are often irritated by someone who politely says “The facts don’t add up, but do tell me if I’m missing something.”

      1. Spot on, Joe is a man that can see through Bernie’s Male Cow Manure speak.

        What he probably meant was that he would discount the total amount for a say 10 year contract of $50 Million a year, so $500 in total by $35 Million knowing most people would report is as he will pay for it.

        He gets the headline and publicity and people like Joe are called whingers for merely pointing out that it doesn’t stack up on so many levels.

    1. I watched Bernie’s (brief) live interview during the British GP broadcast and my immediate reaction was that he was an old man whose brain was starting to malfunction. He couldn’t respond at any length to questions, stared into space, paused a lot, and seemed really, really old and out of it. It’s really time he retired but I think F1 is all that keeps him going. I am sure that you, Joe, know more about how he is getting on. Is he really starting to dodder?

      1. As I said in another comment elsewhere, it wasn’t so much his apparent mental state (that was his usual schtick of deliberately not saying a lot), but I was struck by how physically frail he looked climbing back up into the Berniebus.

      2. I think you’re mistaking consideration for doddering. Bernie responses to the press tend to be brief, but well thought out. He’s always been this way. It makes it hard for the press to pull their out-of-context quotes game on him.

        It may take Bernie a few more heartbeats to come up with answers these days, but he is still impressively on message.

        I watched that interview, I didn’t see any signs that he’s losing it.

  9. Should we read anything into the fact that this leak about London GP plans should come after Silverstone suffered its worst week (PR speaking) since 2000? Maybe Bernie has got fed up bashing the BRDC/circuit over the head and gone about applying pressure by flying a kite such as this. What hard evidence is there of Bernie making even tentative plans to stage such an impractical race?

    1. I think he’s applied this kind of pressure before… Donnington comes to mind.

      Anyway, where he used to pick Silverstone up on any little problem, from quagmires to the toilets running out of loo roll, this year he’s not said anything of the like at all, and don’t forget, Silverstone has a contract until 2027…

      1. I think it’s more likely about the fact that there’s no reason to say anything as they have a contract till 2027. If Bernie’s still around 2026 (hevean help us), he will say plenty…

  10. Why would Bernie foot the bill for London when he is too cheap to foot the bill for New Jersey/New York, which is arguably much more important than London for F1?
    It’s just smoke and throwing s**t against the wall to see if it sticks…

    Joe is it true that the race fees demanded by Bernie are in several cases (Spa and Singapore at least) coming down?

  11. If we were to believe that these stories have any truth to them you have to ask the question who benefits? It’s not the teams as it’s an extra race on an already crowded schedule. It’s not Bernie, (and by extension CVC ) as he will be funding it.

    So who’s interest is it in to have a race in London?

    Personally I think it was just a publicity event to drum up interest in the British GP when it had to compete with the tennis, and Olympics build up.

    1. Well duuh, It’s a smokescreen to distract the press from the Gribowski affair, and the possibility that BE will be charged with bribery.

      Joe, do you think Bernie will be in attendance at the German GP this year? It would save the hassle of an EU arrest warrant if the Polizei could nab him on German soil..

      1. I agree, it is so obviously a deliberate distraction it is almost laughable, the water being muddied is also reliably predictable.
        Bernie has said twice on camera that he will go to Hockenheim, he has done nothing wrong and has nothing to fear.
        I saw that Gribkowski is appealing, his conviction, so there is a possibility that it could delay any proceedings by the Germans against Bernie. Meanwhile the SFO have been briefed to look at Bernie’s empire, but that would need a lot of international cooperation and most probably be too late to catch the scent of any recently evacuated funds to warmer climes with no reciprocal agreements with the uk. However he may have to pay a bit more tax, he does pay a hell of a lot of uk tax already, unlike many of our political and corporate figureheads.
        For real aggressive persute forget HMRC, the student loan company is a small step away from a “mafia like” enforcement.

  12. dont know why your still giving it the time of day joe. you like the rest of us with half a brain dissmissed it last year when it first come about its a stupid idea. surprisingly derek warick spoke sense saying why do we need another british gp because the brdc wont back it in any way how can they when they run/own silverstone its absolute b*ll*cks and everyone knows it…………

  13. @Shake and Bake You aren’t far off the mark even without the benefit of research. My company has bench-marked most GP’s economic impact on their host nation or region, for both street and fixed circuits and they are positive when you take a broad view both short term and the long term.

    However the gap between what revenue even an optimised promoter captures and their expenditure is significant. Even on a fixed circuit where costs can be defrayed over other events the promoters balance sheet is tough to see anything positive. If a government can’t step up to the plate and pay for their share of the benefits then unless there is a high motivated individual with deep pockets and vested interests (Carlos Slim in Mexcio’s bid or BS in Singapore) it’s not going to happen.

    London would be a great venue for F1, F1 would be great for London and it could work financially for all concerned given a strong following wind. The UK could support two GP’s and they would probably attract somewhat different audiences. But given how much sweat FOM and Silverstone put into getting a deal, I’d be surprised if Silverstone hadn’t managed their risk properly and got some contractual security that they were the only GP on English soil.

  14. Before such an event could be staged an Act of Parliament would be required to temporarily lift the ban on racing in the public highway.

    Can you imagine the protests this would generate from every disparate group with an axe to grind either against to government of the day or the London assembly?

    With the Olympics there is a consensus, grudging on the part of some but a consensus nonetheless, that it is a beneficial project for the nation and public money needs to be spent. There is no chance whatsoever in my opinion that a similar arrangement would hold true for this fantasy GP.

    1. I don’t feel any consensus at all about the vast commercial opportunity that passes for the Olympic Games. It’s a gigantic waste of public money at a time when it’s short, and offers nothing to Londoners except hassle. Look back in ten years and you won’t see any long-term benefit at all in either infrastructure or sports participation.

      As for F1, even if they had squillions, London is incapable of organising it.

  15. London is already a major tourist city, so a substantial increase in visitors is unlikely, and as seen with the London Olympics, tourists are actually staying away, there’s a predicted drop of 30% occupancy during the London games as tourists decide to skip those 2 weeks.

    The cost of a street race tends to be $30million higher than a permanent track, but then a promoter isn’t left with an unused track if F1 moves on, ticket sales for street tracks are on average $8million more than for permanent venues, and the repeat visitors (non-race weekend) are much higher than for a permanent track, giving an excellent return on investment.

    1. For different reasons, both permanent and street circuits cost lots of money to create. If F1 moves on from a permanent track, at least you’re left with a permanent track – if it moves on from a street circuit, you’re left with nothing.

      1. You’re left with the streets that were there before. Streets that didn’t cost upwards of $250million to build.

        You can’t seriously be suggesting that when the Singapore event comes to a conclusion, the streets are abandoned and no one ever walks them again, or have business operating on them again?
        Whereas the Turkish Grand Prix track is still in constant use?

        The reason street circuits are popular with promoters is that once they’ve run their course they can revert back to being streets.

        1. You can’t seriously be suggesting that the problem with Turkey was purely due to it being a permanent facility?

          Costs sunk into making existing streets capable of hosting an F1 race (pits, paddock area, run-off etc – all which will incur significant planning costs and compensation pay-offs) do not then leave anything that is subsequently beneficial to the city when F1 moves on. When done properly, permanent circuits can and do leave a lasting benefit to the sport and local community.

          1. Of course not … It actually got more spectators and more TV viewers than Spa.

            I’m saying (as I think you well know) that they are now left with a $250million unused circuit.

            As I said above the costs for street circuits are on average $30million more than for a permanent venue, ticket sales are on average $8million more for a street track, and AVE exposure is an average of $50million more for a street race, sanctioning fees are the same, but as with unused South African football stadiums after the world cup has moved on, the same with unused tracks.

            1. Rather than looking at just new circuits, do have any idea of the economic outlook for long existing permanent circuits (Monza, Spa, etc..)?

              As noted previously, Spa’s case might be helped if the tickets for the Belgian Grand Prix weren’t some the most expensive on the calendar.

        2. Yes, but the streets were there before US$300m was spent on them making them up to F1 standards. So effectively you do have nothing. Singapore’s lasting infrastructure is the pit straight, everything else was there already.

          If you’re left with an unused circuit that you really can’t find a use for, you can always bulldoze it like Mateschitz did with the A1Ring.

          1. Of course they were there before, that’s what makes them so cost effective.

            $300 million is NOT spent on street tracks.

            The average cost of a permanent circuit is $250 million
            The average cost of a street circuit is $30 million

            Street circuits are popular with promoters because they are much more cost effective … Probably why 2 thirds of current proposals are for street circuits.

  16. Well Bernie has said “in some form”. Whatever that means. The track that was presented is clearly not a practical proposition. Apart from having to demolish or substantially modify admiralty arch, they’d have to put the the paddock in St James’ Park or Green Park (I presume Buckingham Palace Gardens is not an option).

    My guess. Bernie is thinking about a GP somewhere in London, but not necessarily along the Mall. Or really he’s TALKING about it in the same way that Senna talked about driving for Williams for free. He’s trying to pressure somebody else. My guess would be Singapore, he’s saying to them if you don’t want to deal with the disruption then maybe I’ll speak to London because I think they will.

    1. “they’d have to put the the paddock in St James’ Park or Green Park (I presume Buckingham Palace Gardens is not an option)”

      I think the actual proposal from Santander had a kind of modular pit lane that could be assembled for the race, removed once it had finished, and stored when not in use. Yes, the proposal was fanciful, but I found the prospect of such a pit complex intriguing.

  17. A lovely idea but thought this one had been put in the bin where it belongs!

    Whilst the money side makes this idea totally impractical, the disruption to everyday life would be astronomical which most people could not cope with. As someone who drives around London and Surrey for a living, it is bad enough having the disruption caused by the Olympics with it’s Zil lanes and Olympic Route Network. To have a large swathe of London closed off for at least 3 weeks having had all the road works to fix the roads would be an absolute nightmare that doesn’t bear consideration.

    Perhaps a virtual race on the simulators would be a better idea!

  18. One reason why F1/bernie might put on the race themselves: they could charge monaco-esque prices, and by when designing the brand new circuit, could ensure room for shed loads of grandstands. I find it hard to visualise empty seats in london, even with astronomical prices. So could it be that this is a rare situation where f1 can make the money it wants without external help? Thoughts?

  19. A GP in London city center is totally unrealistic. Building something on the Olympic site (rather like they do in Sydney for the V8SC) might work.

    1. The V8SC race in Sydney round the old Olympic site is a financial disaster for V8s, the State Government and the State in general.
      So that wouldn’t work.

    2. Yup I agree. *If* it ever happens, then an Olympic Park version *might* be a realistic option… except that it wouldn’t have all the iconic views over London that people would expect from a London Grand Prix, so what would be the point?

        1. Plus Stratford and the rest of the East End has a vast amounts of its own problems. None of which will ever be solved by the Olympics, or this imaginary Grand Prix.

          Ahhh yes, the Olympics…. the effect of painting a door frame in the hope you don’t notice the broken windows…

  20. London doesn´t exactly need PR, as it is the top tourist destination of the world. It depends on which newspaper who buys the statistis, but it´s either NY or London.
    That said, a London race would be awesome, but as you have mentioned a couple of times, just the disruption of the city while preparing the event, will turn the locals against the idea. Also, Brits are used to and pretty tired of road work which they see every damn summer going on holiday. Long lines of cars and campers for miles and miles, and all they want is to go on holiday.
    To put new tarmac on is one thing, a big thing, but the entire premis(sp?) of the race just doesn´t hold water in my opinion. As Joe say, who will pay?
    The answer: No one, coz it won´t happen

  21. When Bernie is continually saying that countries will only have one GP going forward and some that have them could potentially lose them to newer Asian/American markets; I can’t see why they would want 2 British Grand Prix’s.

    As you have stated Joe, Silverstone has a contract to host the GP until 2027 and therefore I cannot see there being the support for a London GP.

    Instead of a race in London why don’t they look at doing a yearly event similar to the race of champions. There are plenty of suitable places that could host such an event in the capital that would cause less disruption than a GP would.

  22. Is a Grand Prix in London good for F1 and London, if the answer is yes the funding will be found……………The estimated 200m, is that for year one or an estimated rolling budget, i would say year one………………with regard to funding i suggest that the Government would be involved through the Major’s office with some of the initial infrastructure requirements being funded through various budgets such as TFL as part of a refurbishment plan, the Major’s office could take a loan, increase of council tax, percentage of revenue from congestion charges, sponsorship……..Admiralty Arch is a concern…………

  23. “I read that the plans for a London Grand Prix are ‘no joke’. OK, that’s fine.

    But here is my question: who is going to pay?”

    That depends. Who is saying that the plans are not a joke? If it is someone who is in a position to go ahead and make the race happen, then one could reasonably assume that they’ve figured out the problems associated with paying for it – since that is the major barrier to making it happen – even if they’re not publicly naming the people paying for it.

    Only time will tell, though.

      1. Perhaps Bernie wants this as a legacy? Perhaps he already has a sponsor in the frame?

        I agree that using busy London streets would be prohibitively expensive and invite legal challenges, which is why I don’t expect the use of busy London streets.

        More likely would be the use of parkland, airports, docklands, or industrial areas as the primary routes. Many such races have been developed in the US – and for far, FAR less than 200 million pounds. IndyCar street circuits have been organized for less than a quarter of that.

        As for this being a Gribkowsky smokescreen, I’m not so sure. Grib’s guilty plea was a real last-minute surprise to most observers. This London GP clearly has substantial work behind it, it wasn’t the work of a day.

        Could Bernie have rushed the plan out the door to counter the Gribkowsky surprise? I suppose, but that still means a London race was an actual plan Bernie had been keeping in his pocket.

        Bernie does love shell games, but given Silverstone’s extraordinarily long contract this clearly isn’t a play against the BRDC.

        Conclusion: Bernie honestly wants a London street race, and perhaps has found someone willing to pay for it.

          1. Joe, there are now reports that dated invitations for the London GP announcement event were sent over a month prior to the surprise Gribkowsky revelations.

            I don’t for a minute deny that Bernie benefited from the coincidence, but this appears to be proof that the London GP announcement was never *designed* as a smoke screen for the Gribkowsky affair, whether it ended up serving as one or not.

            Not all of our hunches are accurate. I never believed the Austin GP could survive the severance of government funds. It’s looking as though I was very wrong. Whether the London GP happens or not, suggesting it was only ever a smokescreen seems just as inaccurate.

  24. For those outside the F1 community this is probably interesting stuff, mainly as a ‘what if’ rather than hard news, but it always picks up interest.

    As far as sponsors go, Banco Santander has just been marked down by Moodys, Its long-term rating was cut to Baa2 from A3 and that rating is itself under review for a possible further downgrade:


    So that’s one ‘potential sponsor’ that isn’t going to get involved in a big way, although their sponsorship deals with teams and circuits will continue.

    Let’s be honest, it just isn’t going to happen within the capital: There’s no infrastructure, the roads aren’t suitable, both in width and format, and too many constrictions for a route that would take in popular tourist sites. The chances of modifying Admiralty Arch is just too funny for words, and the same goes for any major road layout changes.

    Bernie won’t be reckoning on having to pay any money out, he knows that it is a non-runner, but gets a big chunk of repeat publicity for free, which is the main reason for the splash.

  25. clearly this London GP isn’t going to happen, not a chance, the thing that interests me though is who is persisting with this idea and the related publicity and why? what/whom is behind it .. it seems like a continual distraction and that can only be happening for a reason .. so whose reasons are those?

  26. I would prefer to see what happens with the Olympics first before even thinking about a GP in London – ‘mon dieu Rodney’! I totally agree with the sentiments expressed in your last paragraph.

  27. Joe uses common sense and concludes that the proposed London GP aint gonna happen.
    Yet, somehow, he thinks that the GP in New Jersey is on.
    Does not compute…

    1. As I said before, it needs an Act of Parliament before planning could even start. Have you any idea how many problems London has in terms of infrastructure, social housing, health etc? There is not a cat’s chance in hell that the bill would be passed.

  28. Maybe we can pass the hat around…everyone in for a couple of pounds a piece and we should be able to do it in no time, especially if Bernie is willing to match us pound for pound.

    I’m sure of there’s any shortfall we can ask Uncle Rupert to kick in a few extra pounds for the pay TV rights for the races he doesn’t broadcast across Sky.

    Then everyone can lie back and think of Mother England…

  29. I think there’s enough roads to make this happen. I live in Central London and while yes i agree that while a **** load of work would need to done to make the big name streets take an F1 car, there are other routes however that would work with out too much upheaval. The route will need very careful planning. It would be spectacular no doubt.

  30. Is it simply the case that Bernie’s got lucky and found a nice way of applying some pressure to the organisers in New York courtesy of Santander? Something along the lines of ‘you’re not the only iconic city in the world that I’ve got lined up…’?

    On the subject of Santander is there any ‘chatter” around their participation in motor racing in the light of what’s happening in Spain?

  31. As has been noted by others, London is a year-round tourist attraction.
    So, their numbers and spending power would not increase significantly during the race weekend.
    Question is, would all those visitors not interested in F1 who had to endure weeks of pre- and post-race disruptions spread the word to avoid the city during future F1 events and their setup windows, thereby reducing annual tourist revenues significantly?

  32. Will the circuit provide us with good racing? Until we actually have the race we won’t know, but, judging by the street circuits we have and have had in the past, I’m willing to bet that it won’t.

    The only thing I’m concerned about with any new circuit is whether it will give us good racing or not. The fact that that always seems to be a very long way down the list of Ecclestone’s priorities is one of his biggest failings.

  33. Could it be that Bernie would like to see a London race, and be willing to underwrite the cost as a way of making it much more difficult for the government to bring charges against him regarding some of his recent financial dealings?

  34. Joe,
    Here is a shocker it is silly season in the press, you can get anything printed right now. The big story here in the US the last few days was a shark following a guy on a Kayak for a minute. Not eating him (which would be news) not attacking him, but it followed him! Try getting that published the rest of the year! I am amazed Bernie did not spice it up with that it would be run using some of his classic F1 cars and the winner gets triple points…. Maybe that is next week to keep it going!

    1. “you can get anything printed right now”

      Even my comments???

      . . .

      “a shark following a guy on a Kayak ”

      Metaphor for the Presidential race, by any chance? 🙂

    2. Triple points? Nooo… Bernie’s all about the medals, don’t you remember? That proposal was another one that was definitely going to happen, oh yes, no doubt.

  35. This is a head and heart conundrum!!

    It would be amazing to imagine cars going up the mall and flicking right up to Hyde park but the reality is unless someone pays it isn’t going to happen.

    The biggest issue for me is the novelty value. The first couple if years it would be well received and then it would just become a pain. I was in Melbourne 2 years ago and unless your a petrol head you could feel from the locals the inconvenience of it all.

  36. Are we thinking about in and around the olympic park – note I said in and around, not within?

    That one is the craziest, I think. You’d be demolishing or messing structurally with the main eastern supply routes into London from the sea and Europe. Not happening, though would be lovely to reduce the ugliness.

    Problem is, all traffic is at capacity in London through the arteries, and where do you want a GP? Where people can get to it.

    My brother whittled away far too many years pining at ministers to go sort out x y and z, on a preventative basis, and though he’d never get drawn on a quick answer, knowing his talk all my life, you can take that 200 million and quadruple it.

    So, instead of just saying “Make that 800 Million”, something positive:

    . .

    Here is a map link to about the only place I think you could pull this off:


    That map centers on a long disused landfill.

    To your left is a almost disused quays along River Road.

    Film buffs may note that Full Metal Jacket’s shoot out was filmed in one of them, which you can still sneak into.

    A little further to your left, observe the clusters of Docklands Light Railway stations.

    They surround (it may not be obvious) London City Airport.

    Those DLR stations, built for the olympics, hook you up a few stops to the soon to be ghost tow of accommodation at the olympic park, and not a few hotels built where I assure you, is not exactly attractive for typical LCY apt arrivals.

    Oh, and forget the neighbors complaining. There are none. Every project around there is a ghost town or boarded up, think Cabrini-Green in Chicago.

    The remaining issues are the industrial plants nearby, who vent some stench. So, do a Beijing and switch them off. Yeah, I know what it costs to start and restart a plant, but there’s nothing very high tech there, gravel and base materials processing. So pay them, or let them erect banners. I’ll look up who they are, think Tate & Lyle are one.

    Are Ford still in the F1 game?

    I say that because of the famous Ford Dagenham Works, which assembles engines a short hike down to the east of the map locus.

    And you could also take a pro feminine angle, because of the rather excellent movie Made In Dagenham: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1371155/

    Finally, having walked along that stretch many a time, the sweep of the river, though not a backdrop like other city street circuits boast, is attractive, there are innumerable points of historical interest nearby, nature reserves to take the kids to, and so on.

    I happen to be piss mad angry this area (about the map center) is underutilized, partly let to rot, ignored by the olympic “delivery” – note not “deveopment” authority, and stands to be prettified as where once the easterly view was a sea of high voltage pylons supplying the factories, they put all that underground for sake they had to dig the trench from there to the olympic site.

    . . .

    Preparing my invoice ..

  37. I don’t think anyone should believe Bernie when he says a London GP is no joke. He’s lost all credibility with these sorts of tall tales.
    I would say the very fact that Bernie is saying “London GP is no joke” is in itself a tall tale to divert attention from something else.

  38. Joe — bu, bu, but but… you said that governments would MAKE money on an F1 race? And that they’d MAKE money on the Olympics?? Bottom line for Bernie and the F1 world — akin to the end of tobacco money in US racing, the end of government money is at hand.

    1. Geek,

      You are trying to compare oranges and apples. Yes, in certain circumstances (the majority of cases, in fact) a government will make money from an F1 race. However, in other cars, it does not work.

      It is really not rocket science.

  39. Sorry – bored with this nonsense now. Joe – why not start a counter-story that the new socialist government is in talks with Bernie for the next French GP to be in the middle of Paris. The track will go through the Arc de Triomphe (which will need to widened) and underneath the Eiffel Tower (which will have to moved to the left a bit). Due to the lack of space, a new floating pit complex will be built on the Seine! While you’re at it, why not add that plans are afoot for a NASCAR race using the Périphérique as long circuit oval!

    All together now … “just because it’s a stupid and impractical idea, no money is available and it makes no economic sense doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen”. BTW – would anyone care to buy one of my perpetual motion machines?

    1. Just because Jason Bourne can drive a Mini fast along the Seine, noes not – splutter, make that sane.

      You’re supposed to slam the door behind me, not throw the handle into the small of my back, that’s too action movie . .

  40. Joe,

    I’ve thought of one way that the race could be self funded. Get Mansell a guest drive in a Canon liveried Williams and the problem is solved! the grandstands would be sold out within hours and you know it 😉

    I’ll get my Labbatts shall I?

  41. Joe, I’m loving all the comments on here, it’s funny to see the emotions such a story has generated.

    My question is, what is happening 180 degrees away from this story? And if the answer to that is “nothing” then are we to believe Bernie is becoming savvy to those who are savvy to his media manipulations, and therefore trying the ol’ double bluff?

  42. If one wanted to put the London race in a park, then Crystal Palace I think, still has part of the original circuit, lots of space and huge hills. It also has an Olympic swimming pool, a small zoo, a ski training slope, a lake and several dinosaurs, the excellent adventure playground was of course closed in case anyone fell over or scraped a knee and sued the council. There used to be a model car racing circuit too, which provided good Sunday morning entertainment for the kids and I. Probably all built over now, it was twenty something years ago we lived up there.

  43. Oh Joe of course it’s going to happen

    It’ll be finded by the new tax on pixies at the bottom of people’s gardens…

      1. Ooooh you fibber.

        Mind you, you’re doing Daniel Tyler a favour.

        I read a number of gospels according to Sylt before I knew who he was. Even then after about 5 mins – coming at it with no baggage, forethought or pre-formed opinions, its bloody hard going.

        After about 10 minutes you realise the whole purpose of his rambling is usually to let you know how much he knows (always makes me suspicious that – what does he know ?) and not to inform or engage. No time for that sort of crap myself.
        Having said that, he could become a bit of a cult.

        (Did I spell that right).

  44. Just why anybody would continue to listen to BE as he continues to make F1 look ridiculous is beyond me. This is clearly a case of causing a diversion “off stage” to avoid the spotlight of legal affairs in Germany.

    Simply creating a GP track on London streets is a huge venture.

    I race my 1971 Escort Mk. 1 RS1600 at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, held on public roads in Schenley Park, downtown Pittsburgh. It isn’t easy, even at the pedestrian pace we vintage racers go.

    There’s the crown in the road – get caught on the wrong side of the camber and you can be in big trouble. Then there’s the curbs/kerbs which exist because the road is crowned. Add in manholes and grates, parking meters and trees at the side of the road, and the only sane way to do it is at 7/10ths.

    So for a London track, somebody (not BE, presumably) is going to have to remove existing roads, pavements, trees, lamp posts and parking meters, and start again with a flat, non cambered, and non-drained, surface. And at the same time, build run off areas and service areas – pits, paddock etc.

    It simply won’t happen – many hundreds of millions for a 1 day, 2 hour race? And the good folks of London, who presumably all share a NIMBY attitude to life – how will they respond to this massive upheaval? The whole idea is simply beyond bizarre.

    F1 racing has come to a fine state when these ridiculous ideas are given life by the ‘Commercial Rights Holder”. The problem appears to be that he’s now so rich and powerful that he doesn’t see the need to feel any sense of embarrassment at stupid things he does or says – “The Singapore GP is secured for 5 more years” says Bernie – “No deal has been done for a 5 year extension” says Singapore!

  45. Nobody pays cause it will never happen. It is just great that you have now spend several blog posts on this as have other journos and that is read by fans that I keep interested in a time when bloody Wimbledon, the Olympics and now even some cyclist are trying to steal my PR space!

    best wishes

  46. I’m no expert but it seems like a London GP is a 180-degree reversal from where F1 says it wants to be (i.e., in emerging markets, BRIC nations). I mean, what is the point from F1’s perspective of having a London race? None – it does not need the exposure in a mature F1 market. What is the financial incentive for BCE to promote London himself? None, because he doesn’t need it. Has anyone from F1, in the last 10 years, said “yes, what F1 wants is more races in the UK.” Tends to suggest the story is a ruse.

  47. Am i the only one who hates street tracks?, keep monaco & bin the rest 1 borefest a year is quite enough. i want to see fast cars going fast.

    Londons a non starter but New York might happen but americans dont get circuits that turn right. come to think of it how come they didnt do an oval race in the USA at indy last time the circus visited the americas (other than michelin not being able to go round a corner at speed)

  48. Have loved the debate here. I’m a proud Londoner – born and bred. I also love my F1 just as much. Thanks Bernie, I’ve enjoyed visualising Fernando Alonso on a ‘hot lap’ down The Mall and Pastor Maldonado taking someone off (again) in Parliament Square (while the stewards watching from 10 Downing Street turn another blind eye to it). Great PR Bernie – good to see that age has not resulted in you loosing you touch. Agree with Joe – it ain’t going to happen. Not now, not ever. In any case, London doesn’t need it, F1 doesn’t need it and I don’t think BCE needs it either – although the free publicity generated by the idea has no doubt come in very handy. In any case, London is so much more than big sporting events. I’d rather watch F1 at Spa or Monza than the centre of London. By the way, I shant be watching the Olympics. London or the country for that matter doesn’t need them either. Ps; maybe Bob Diamond could pay for the GP!

  49. An interesting counter-analysis to all the sycophantic press releases out there. My mind is drawn back to the great fun everyone had in 2004 though, with various teams gunning it up and down Regents Street.

    Recalling it calls to mind two questions:

    1) you say that various roads on the route have crowns etc which would need to be resurfaced at vast cost – but am I right in thinking that in 2004 the cars were able to cruise around with no adverse effects? Albeit at slower speeds, but they seemed perfectly at home in W1…

    2) Why, when such efforts are clearly being made to make London2012 the centre of the world (Olympics, Jubilee parade, Jubilee concert, various exhibitions etc) did no one think to repeat the 2004 F1 street parade and add to the spectacle? 8 years ago it seemed arbitrary – there was no particular reason why 2004 should have seen it happen. This year though I’d have thought it would have been a no-brainer, given how much else is being funded and promoted in the capital to make London look like the world’s stage…

      1. Woah! No argument here, merely asking a valid question – I’m genuinely curious how the cars appeared to run ok on what you reckon would be an unsafe / inappropriate surface…

        1. Also, if I remember correctly, the cars DID have quite a bit of trouble with the camber, and had to be modified to run at ridiculously high ride-heights, which presumably wouldn’t be compatible with full-on 180mph racing being safe. Have memories of the manholes being welded-down as well or similar.

  50. Great post – even greater comments.

    It ain’t gonna happen.

    More smoke and mirrors to try to hide the Gribkowsky issue.

    Bernie. Go to Jail. Give us back our sport!!!

    1. Bernie does not own the sport, so he cannot give it back. The FIA still owns the World Championship and it chose to lease the commercial rights to BE’s company, which has since been sold and bartered. If BE ends up being in trouble there might possibly be a case from taking back the commercial rights, but that would depend on what is in the contract between the FIA and FOM. I doubt that the FIA would go down that route, although purists would argue that it should.

  51. You can’t do anything in the UK without someone forming a protest group and going down legal channels to try and get a public enquiry, someone will want to appeal to the European court of human rights because they can’t enjoy their home for a weekend a year due to noise – they always do, it’s a somewhat tedious fact of life these days.

    This just feels like a political carrot on the end of an extending stick, promised but ever out of reach, “there *could* be a London Grand Prix but if you bother me with any of these silly minor tax issues I’ll be too busy to sort it out for you”.

    I think the first indicator of this race actually happening will be the Devil going to work in a snowplough.

  52. I would rather see a Demonstration run, taking place on normal, unmodified London roads, with museum cars and hay bails.

    Just a few laps, on the Sunday before the race. No need to close roads for weeks, no need to invest millions of virtual pounds. It would seperate the men from the boys, too. But oh, then there is health and safety…..

    1. Edit: Obviously, the Sunday the week before the race. It would attract interest in Silverstone, too, and boost TV viewing.

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