Architects of London 2012 hired by Santander to plan London Grand Prix

June 28, 2012

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While London is undoubtedly the focal point of global sporting endeavour and the attendant groundswell of international attention this summer, Santander has articulated the fizzing excitement surrounding the capital with the release of a spectacular concept film featuring Jenson Button & Lewis Hamilton to speculate how the city could add to cement a claim to be the world’s pre-eminent sporting capital.

With London not just the host city for the 2012 Games, but also for its premium catalogue of blue riband sporting events that are followed around the globe from Wimbledon to Royal Ascot or the summer calendar of test cricket, Santander – as title sponsor of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone – has explored how a Formula 1 race against the backdrop of one of the most familiar urban skylines, might look.

The London Grand by Santander is presented as an ultra-high fidelity short CGI film founded on a detailed feasibility study undertaken by expert project architects, Populous, who have first hand experience of delivering Formula 1 infrastructure projects for Silverstone and a range of other venue clients of international stature from London’s O2 Arena to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Stadium.

By embracing the detailed logistical expertise that has delivered the spectacular new Silverstone circuit and allying it with the unique cockpit insights of Britain’s two F1 World Champions, Lewis and Jenson, Santander’s London Grand Prix film provides the most comprehensive answer yet to the much-vaunted question of how a Formula 1 street-race in the capital might one day look.

Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of 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.”


Lewis and Jenson 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, a 192mph Santander straight in the run up to Buckingham Palace and with perhaps one of the most audacious corners anywhere on the sport’s twenty race global calendar, the London Grand Prix route circuit will steer 24 cars from Trafalgar Square into Admiralty Arch.

Conceived as a night race, the lifelike quality of the CGI includes a driver perspective from the cockpit of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 F1™ car as it races through the streets of London, making for compelling viewing.

With all of this background, Silverstone is a natural celebration of the UK’s contribution to Formula 1. It is nice to add to this rich tapestry the notion of a London street-race, and I agree with Lewis, it is a great hypothetical track to drive, and is as appealing as the reality of the Silverstone circuit.”

In order to fashion a credible foundation for the concept, Santander commissioned Populous to undertake an extensive and wide-ranging approach to its feasibility plan for a London Grand Prix, embracing all logistical considerations from pits and paddock, grandstands, run-off areas, to kerb profiling, access roads for safety & medical access, catch fencing design, noise attenuation strategies, a 3 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,” says 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 dual 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.”

The garages and hospitality suites are multi-purpose items which can easily be packed up and used elsewhere. It’s a truly groundbreaking idea; and since the vast majority of emissions associated with Formula 1 races are produced by people travelling to the circuit rather than the operation of the racing cars themselves, a real-life London Grand Prix by Santander has been planned as an environmentally sustainable event.

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


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