British PM Cameron Announces Rule Changes That Could Help London Land A GP
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's "long-held dream" to stage a London Grand Prix has "taken a step forward" as British PM David Cameron announced plans to "ease the rules for staging motor sports events on public roads," according to Nicholas Watt of the London GUARDIAN. Local authorities will be given "new powers in the deregulation bill to open up public roads for motor racing and for events like the Isle of Man TT motorcycle race." Cameron, who made the announcement on Friday as he opened the new Formula One Williams factory in Oxfordshire, "believes that the current restrictive rules are denying local communities the chance to earn millions from motor racing." Under the current rules motor sports can "only be approved on public roads through an act of parliament." Ecclestone said, "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. 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" (GUARDIAN, 7/11). In London, Holehouse & Johnson reported "while it will significantly open up the opportunities for hill climbs, motorbike races, and rallies across rural Britain," the biggest impact could be in "paving the way for a Formula One race which passes Buckingham Palace and Big Ben." The measure "also clears the way for the hosting of Formula E, the all-electric car championship, in Britain, with a race planned for next summer in Battersea Park." Cameron: "I can announce today that we are going to enable more road races for GB motor sport." The plans are "likely to delight Britain’s thousands of motorsport fans." The London race "could raise as much" as £100M ($171M) in ticket revenues and endorsement, "attracting a potential global television audience" of £1B ($1.7B) (TELEGRAPH, 7/11). Also in London, Parker & Blitz reported the idea is supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson, "but no firm proposals have been drawn up." A spokesperson for Johnson said, "He is positive that London would do a spectacular job of hosting an F1 grand prix. But it is impossible to say what the impact might be without detailed planning and research, and the question of air quality and noise impact would have to be looked at very carefully." The idea, however, was rejected by London Assembly Green member Darren Johnson, who said that F1 should "stick to dedicated tracks." Johnson: "The mayor should get behind local demands to spread 20mph speed limits across London's roads, rather than using the capital's roads for an event which has nothing to do with London being a cleaner and healthier city." U.K. Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said, "Motorsport has a huge following in the U.K. These changes will provide more opportunities for fans to enjoy the sport locally and give a financial boost to local economies through the added benefits of tourism, shopping and spending" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/11).