Bernie Ecclestone is at it again. Why have everyone focus on the possibility you could be hit up with bribery charges when there’s this lovely notion of a London Grand Prix to talk about instead?
Of course, many news outlets and specialist motorsport websites fell hook, line and sinker for that one…
A story in London’s The Times newspaper has been picked up by other specialist sites – who should, frankly know better – that claims that Mr Ecclestone is very keen on the idea of a Grand Prix on the streets of London. So keen, in fact, that he’d be prepared to fund it himself.
This comes ahead of today’s street demonstration – funded by next weekend’s British Grand Prix naming rights sponsor, Santander – on the British capital that’s designed to get those final few tickets for the Silverstone race sold ahead of next weekend.
One of the stories kicking around is that the proposed three-mile street circuit would go past some of the city’s most famous landmarks, and even travel through the city’s Olympic Stadium.
While no serious discussion has obviously taken place – city being in the midst of its Olympic Games build-up, and all – Ecclestone has suggested that the idea could go ahead, and has even hinted that he might be prepared to fund the race himself.
“With the way things are, maybe we would front it and put the money up for it,” he told The Times. “If we got the okay and everything was fine, I think we could do that.
“Think what it would do for tourism. It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics.”
Were such a proposal to get off the ground, that would mean there would be two Grands Prix in Britain, as Silverstone holds a fairly watertight contract to stage the British Grand Prix until the end of the 2027 season. All this at a time when the very notion of to Grands Prix in the same country – with the possible exception of the United states – is very much on the nose…
Let’s not even consider the amount of red tape that would need to be overcome to convince city officials to close down the city’s streets for weeks either side of the race. With the city already congested enough as it is, one can’t imagine that would be feasible.
And let’s not even consider the notion of Ecclestone funding such an event out of his own purse, or that of Formula One Management. It would be an enormous cost to stage the event, and convincing shareholders to part with tens of millions in return for fewer millions in ticket sales would never get off the ground.
Frankly, there’s a great chance of a Grand Prix happening in Baghdad than there is on the streets of London.
No doubt, today’s headlines will become tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapping, and Bernie will be quite happy in the knowledge that few journalists will have bothered examining his financial affairs in the same manner that the UK Tax Department is no doubt about to.
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