London Grand Prix could happen next year: Ecclestone

LONDON • London could stage its first Formula One race as early as next year, according to F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

A proposed London Grand Prix, which would start and finish in The Mall and take the cars past Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, to rival Monaco, has long been discussed.

But plans have been held up because secondary legislation is required to allow councils to close roads for high-speed races.

A spokesman for the transport department said this matter would be addressed in "due course".

Speaking to ITV News London, Ecclestone, chief executive of the Formula One Group which manages F1 rights, said on Monday: "The answer is if it can be done, then yes, we'd love to do it.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There is a small technical issue - who is going to pay for it - but, apart from that, I can't see any dramas.

BERNIE ECCLESTONE, F1 commercial boss, on the possible roadblocks.

"Next year if it's possible. There is a small technical issue - who is going to pay for it - but, apart from that, I can't see any dramas.

"(A race) in the middle of London would be fantastic. I mean, we're having the same sort of thing in Baku now and like in Monaco.

"Street races have become very popular. We'd have a lot more viewers than they do in Monte Carlo."

London had previously held Formula E races, which use electric-powered cars travelling at up to 225kmh, at Battersea Park.

Ecclestone also believes that defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, who with 57 points is 43 behind Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes team-mate, after four races, will come back to win this season's title.

"He's been a bit unlucky this year," Ecclestone said. "I think he'll win the championship."

The Briton has endured technical issues throughout the early part of the season.

Ecclestone added: "He could be a lot more upset. He's upset for sure because he's a guy who's used to winning and doesn't want to be second.

"But, to be second with all the problems he's had, is very good."

Ecclestone also reiterated his view that female drivers are not taken seriously, responding to British driver Alice Powell's comments that his views have stopped women getting a chance.

"It's pretty factual, isn't it really - if you think of all the ladies who have tried to be in Formula One or tried to be in motor sports and what's happened - it's not that easy," he said. "People don't take them seriously.

"To put someone in a Formula One car, it's going to cost a team probably £25-30 million (S$49-59 million)," he added. "So they have to decide whether or not it's worth doing that or getting someone else in.

"And they probably think at the moment it's a bit of a risk."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'London Grand Prix could happen next year: Ecclestone'. Print Edition | Subscribe