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JUST Cars 01/07/2012
With the focus of the world soon to turn to London, and the British Formula 1 Grand Prix coming up even sooner, Santander (sponsors of the McLaren F1 team), have released a fascinating proposal for a street race through the heart of the British capital.
With London not just the host city for the 2012 Games, but also for blue riband sporting events like Wimbledon, Royal Ascot and the summer calendar of test cricket, Santander - as title sponsor of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - has explored how a Formula 1 race against the backdrop of one of the most familiar urban skylines, might look.
The release of a concept film on June 28, featuring Jenson Button & Lewis Hamilton, speculates how the British capital could add an F1 street race to cement a claim to be the world’s pre-eminent sporting capital. The 'London Grand Prix by Santander' was presented as an ultra-high fidelity short CGI film founded on a detailed feasibility study undertaken by expert project architects, Populous, who have first hand experience of delivering Formula 1
infrastructure projects for Silverstone and a range of other venue clients of international stature from London’s O2 Arena to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Stadium.
The 5.56 kilometre circuit features a start/finish straight on The Mall, with the highlight of the layout arguably being the one-car-width dash through Admiralty Arch. Upon seeign the detailed simulator, McLaren's Button is excited by the concept.
"If we ever could have a London Grand Prix, I think it would be spectacular and would be such a great addition to the city’s status as one of the world’s greatest sporting capitals," Button said. "We did an F1 street demonstration on Regent Street a few years ago, and half a million people came out to watch – I remember the sight of thousands of people on rooftops and balconies on every storey of every building along the route.
"There’s a mammoth following for Formula One in the UK and a race in the city would be at the heart of everything, easily reachable by public transport. It would be a fantastic race for the drivers and the fans alike."
For his part, Hamilton was equally upbeat about the concept.
"It really captures my imagination. Racing up The Mall, along Piccadilly – how many fans would be there? How cool would the atmosphere be? Would the Queen be watching? I’d give her a wave on the way past. That’d be pretty neat…," Hamilton joked.
"The film has really drawn lots of thinking together, from a possible route to the practical logistics and having spent some time helping assess and develop the circuit, I have to tell you that this race would be utterly epic.
"The idea of a London race presents a completely different possibility and it would be great to reward our home fans with two races, wouldn’t it?"
By embracing the detailed logistical expertise that has delivered the spectacular new Silverstone circuit and allying it with the unique cockpit insights of Britain’s two F1 World Champions, Lewis and Jenson, Santander’s London Grand Prix film provides what they believe is the most comprehensive answer yet to the much-vaunted question of how a Formula 1 street-race in the capital might look.
The film is certainly jaw-dropping in its detail, and on first viewing at least, a street race passing London landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square and more, would certainly be impressive. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has given the idea the thumbs up, so maybe, just maybe, a London street race might become a reality!
images: Santander and (launch) Mark Thompson, copyright 2012, Getty Images
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