MAY 24, 2004
The London Grand Prix
The FIA President Max Mosley may have been very dismissive of rumours to have a Grand Prix in London but there are plenty of good reasons why such an event would work.
"The chance of having a Grand Prix in London is about nil," said Mosley. "But you know there is nothing to stop people putting in a bid. They have made a bid for the Olympic Games they could make a bid for a Grand Prix. Why not?"
Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone says that he has been talking to the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone for a couple of years about doing something in London but nothing is likely to happen before the International Olympic Committee decide which city will host the 2012 Olympic Games. Favourite to win that competition is Paris but London has a major bid. If that fails (and the decision will come in July 2005) then London could turn around and bid for a Grand Prix instead. What is interesting about Bernie Ecclestone's plans for an F1 demonstration in July this year is that it involves not only the Mayor but also event promoter Harvey Goldsmith.
Goldsmith made his name in the 1960s with concerts at Crystal Palace and later at Wembley Stadium. He moved into TV in the 1970s culminating in his organization of Bob Geldof's Live Aid global concert in 1985. In the 1990s he tried his hand at opera and attracted 125,000 people to a concert by Luciano Pavarotti in London's Hyde Park. In 1996 he organized the first rock concert in Hyde Park for 20 years, the Master Card Master of Music event featuring Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Alanis Morrissette and The Who's Quadrophenia.
The interesting thing about Goldsmith is that he is a great believer in using London parks for big events and the 630-acre Hyde Park, which is overlooked by Formula One Management's offices in Princes Gate, has plenty of potential to become a race track, in much the same way as Melbourne's Albert Park is used each year for the Australian Grand Prix. The park borders London landmarks such as Marble Arch, the Albert Hall, Park Lane and Hyde Park Corner and is served by no fewer than four Underground stations. There is also the scenic Serpentine lake.
Some argue that opposition to the idea would be huge but the example of Melbourne will show that having a race track can be of great value not just to a city but also to individual districts.
Such a project would, of course, be sweet revenge for Ecclestone if the British Racing Drivers' Club does not want to play ball with the British GP.
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