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Ecclestone backs London grand prix

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone arrives at the opening gala for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Thursday, June 7, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

LONDON: Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has offered to stump up 35 million pound ($54.5 million) to stage a grand prix around London’s famous streets, the Times reported Thursday.

The 5.1 km route will be unveiled when the full plan is presented later Thursday, but it would take in landmarks including Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, the report said.

Organizers estimate 120,000 spectators would flock to the showpiece event – making it the biggest race on the tour – and hope the money they would spend would more than cover Formula One’s investment.

“Think what it would do for tourism,” Ecclestone told the paper.

“It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England – a lot better than the Olympics,” he added.

A map of the proposed race route published by The Times indicated the event could start on the The Mall before a sprint past some of the city’s most iconic streets and landmarks.

Populous, the architectural group which drew up the plans for the proposed circuit, had conducted the most thorough feasibility study to date for a possible London grand prix.

As well as the route itself, Populous had also examined the fine detail of the environmental impact of the race, mapping 27,000 trees which would need to be protected along the route.

John Rhodes, the assistant principal of Populous, said it would take around five days to set up the circuit and three to dismantle it.

However, he said London could follow the example of other street races held around the world by allowing traffic to use the circuit at the end of each day’s racing.

“Roads in Singapore and Monaco close down for the events and then open again each evening,” he told The Times. “The route is fairly enclosed so it would not affect London too much.”

Meanwhile an editorial in The Times welcomed the prospect of a London grand prix, saying it would build on the success of the 2012 Olympics. “Formula One is the kind of traffic that London should welcome,” it said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 29, 2012, on page 14.

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