Belfast Telegraph

Bernie's London F1 dream in need of big cash boost

By Ian Parkes

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned that a London Grand Prix remains a long shot despite the fact Britain's roads are on the brink of being opened up for street racing.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday announced new powers for local authorities that would allow them to sign off on major motor races on public roads for the first time, rather than needing specific approval from Parliament.

For Ecclestone, whose dream has long been to see F1 careering around London's landmarks, it means one strip of red tape has been removed, with the likelihood legislation will be in force next year.

The 83-year-old, however, appreciates finding the money for such an event remains one of the many other hurdles that would need to be overcome and called on Government to come up with financial backing.

Ecclestone said: "In the past we spoke to the old mayor and all sorts of people. It just depends on what we can come up with commercially because how are we going to fund it?

"The news is good, but I don't know whether you'd have street racing because it's not cheap to put on something that's safe. Street racing is expensive.

"But if they ever get it together then we'll see what happens. At least it's a good sign, a step in the right direction."

The Prime Minister made the announcement at yesterday's unveiling of Williams' new £8million engineering facility at the team's F1 headquarters in Grove.

"We're going to change the rules so local councils are able to make the decision so you don't have to have a private member's Bill through Parliament, which we think will be great news for British motorsport," explained the Prime Minister.

"More races, more events, more money coming into our country and more success for this extraordinary industry."

Remarking on F1, the Prime Minister added that the sport was "an amazing success story – eight of the 11 teams based here in the United Kingdom, 41,000 people working in the industry in the Oxford area alone, working for about 4,300 companies."

He added: "It really is something we should celebrate. It seems to me it's an industry that is in good heart and good spirit with incredible investment."

Ecclestone suggested the Government could dip into its own pockets to help with the funding of a London Grand Prix.

"Who knows? Maybe it's possible to get them to help out," said Ecclestone.

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