Monaco, it’s the home of the rich and tax-avoiding famous where James Bond goes for downtime and every corner shop is run by Cartier. But mainly the principality is famed for its Grand Prix. The pinnacle of the Formula One season is the spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix, as billionaires watch from their balconies and yachts and the fastest men and machines in the world whizz around the twisty glam-studded circuit. And now London may be about to get the same treatment.
A plan is afoot to turn London into an additional stop on the ever-expanding F1 season, which has recently taken on Saudi Arabia and Miami. It’s all part of the new owner’s ambition to bring the break-neck speed racing to the mainstream. It’s no coincidence that the hugely successful Netflix series Drive to Survive was released soon after American firm Liberty Media bought the F1 franchise from Bernie Ecclestone. And now it’s been revealed that funding is in place for London to add its name to the list of new venues vying for spots on the competitive roster.
But if you were hoping to hear the whine and roar of racing engines as they speed past the Houses of Parliament or up The Mall then you may be disappointed. The action is set to head to Docklands instead.
If you were hoping to hear the whine and roar of racing engines as they speed past the Houses of Parliament or up The Mall then you may be disappointed...
According to Josh Wanders, of American owned 777 Partners, the company currently developing swathes of East London’s Newham and speaking to the Daily Mail, “We are hopeful that it is coming. We are hugely excited about it.
“There will be an electric atmosphere as the greatest athletes in the world, along with an international fanbase and the world’s largest companies as sponsors, descend on the Docks for race weekend.”
“More importantly, we will build a world-class sports and entertainment complex that can serve the community year round and revitalise the surrounding areas. It is the type of thing you really can’t quantify until it happens, but the impact is dramatic.”
The project also has the backing of some of the biggest players in the industry. Drive to Survive star (and Spice Girl Geri Halliwell’s husband) Christian Horner is the boss of the Red Bull racing team, has lent his weight to the project, saying “it would be a fantastic advert for London and great to see and hear GP cars around the streets”.
The project also has the backing of some of the biggest players in the industry...
While Mercedes Boss, the enigmatic and endlessly cool Toto Wolff, has told the Evening Standard that “Racing in London would top everything and I hope that the Mayor of London and Mr Johnson read this and we get that going.”
And the same paper have London Mayor Sadiq Khan on record saying “It would be great to have a grand prix in the capital city, to have Silverstone and London on the calendar. I’ve been really impressed with those at Formula 1 and I’m keen to bring it as soon as possible.”
However, let’s not all move to Newham at once (sorry 777 Partners) because the deal certainly isn’t ‘done’. There is a lot of good will in the sport to bring Formula One to London, but East London may not be exactly what they had in mind.
The vision for a London Grand Prix is always one of the races passing iconic London locations, with crowds enjoying cars roaring past Trafalgar Square and along Victoria Embankment. And, ahem, not Newham. Street circuits like Baku and Singapore both showcase those cities with their Grand Prixes, it might seem that London had made the race an afterthought if it was taking place miles away from the iconic sights that draw millions of tourists to the capital.
It might seem that London had made the race an afterthought if it was taking place miles away from the iconic sights that draw millions of tourists to the capital...
The funding may be in place but Liberty Media have to ‘okay’ things, and with a British Grand Prix already on the calendar London may have to demonstrate far more appeal before it leapfrogs the dozens of great contenders for places on the much coveted Formula One destinations list.