Santander unveils plans for London F1 night race

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Santander has revealed plans for a Formula1 street race in London that would incorporate 14 corners and a 5.1 kilometre circuit – 24 drivers would complete 59 laps of the course taking in a number of iconic London landmarks in front of an thousands of motorsport fans.

As title sponsor of the upcoming British Grand Prix, Silverstone, (VIP tickets available to win, click here) Santander has commissioned Populous to carry out a detailed feasibility study and worked with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to create a blueprint for Santander’s London Grand Prix, which would also take place at night.

Bernie Ecclestone, CEO, Formula One group, said: “The idea of an F1 street-race in London is something I have had for many years. It would be magnificent. A couple of years ago we came very close to an agreement with the City of Westminster and The Mayor’s office but we ran into the small problem of cost. A few years back over half a million people turned-up to watch F1 cars parading through the streets of the capital. The public’s appetite for a London Grand Prix is huge as I am sure it is with the F1 teams and sponsors.”

Hamilton and Button have been extensively consulted in the development of the detail for the 14 corner, 5.1km circuit which features a start grid on The Mall and a 192mph Santander straight in the run up to Buckingham Palace.

Populous has looked at all logistical considerations from pits and paddock, grandstands, run-off areas, to kerb profiling, access roads for safety and medical access, catch fencing design, noise attenuation strategies, a three megawatt night race lighting system with 1,200 projectors, bespoke garage pods to house the teams in lightweight, eco-friendly and modern temporary buildings such as the media centre. The integrated travel plan includes spectator entry and exit points, which are all accessible via public transport.

“Delivering an event within an existing city is a lot more sophisticated than just sitting down with a copy of the A-Z,” said Populous architect John Rhodes.

“We mapped out some of London’s most recognised places and landmarks and then worked out how we would integrate them within the layout. The design process was driven by the twin requirements of creating an exciting circuit and giving the best view of the iconic places associated with it. We surveyed the site very carefully so that the plan would be achievable for real. To provide some notion of the level of forensic detail we have considered, we accounted for no less than 27,000 trees in our plan and I am glad to say the race would not impact a single one.

“Pretty much everyone who has ever sketched out a London Grand Prix circuit has included Piccadilly Circus, but to us that just wasn’t going to work. The surrounding infrastructure just wasn’t what would be needed.

“Once we had taken a preliminary look at a circuit outline, it was then important to absorb and respond to the driver’s perspective, and that’s where the contribution of Lewis and Jenson was critical. Having two F1 World Champions at your disposal to critique and improve the design really means we have had absolutely the best insight conceivable, so we are very happy that Lewis described the circuit as ‘utterly epic’.”

The London Grand Prix film by Santander was premiered last night in the company of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at the spiritual home of motor racing in the capital, the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall.

The London Grand Prix in numbers (estimated)

  • Length of circuit – 5.156 kilometres
  • Number of laps – 59
  • Race distance  – 304.2 kilometres
  • DRS Zone – Birdcage Walk
  • Number of gear changes per lap – 78
  • Race day attendance  – 120,000
  • Weekend attendance  – 280,000
  • Grandstand seats – 40,000
  • General admission tickets – 50,000
  • Hospitality covers – 10,000
  • Contribution to regional economy – £30 million
  • Number of days to set up  – 5
  • Number of days to pack down  – 3
  • Volunteer marshals – 850
  • Medical staff  – 100
  • Jumbo screens – 25
  • Sealed manhole covers on the track – 800