Olympic stadium could become a Formula One racetrack

Jun 22, 2012

Unlikely-sounding plan to stage London Grand Prix in the Olympic Park is being considered

An aerial view of the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, taken last month. The three-hour opening ceremony on 27 July is expected to attract even more than the one billion viewers who tuned in to watch the opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Photo: London 2012

WHEN the body in charge of London's Olympic legacy looked at possible uses for the stadium after the Games they probably didn't expect envisage it forming part of a Formula One race-track. But an application to turn the stadium and the Olympic Park into an F1 circuit is now being considered by the London Legacy Development Corporation.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the unlikely-sounding plan is one of four bids under consideration by the agency, although local football club West Ham is still the favourite to take over the ground.

"The bid was tabled by a company based in Wanstead, east London, which discussed its plans with Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone before finalising its bid," said the paper. "Ecclestone confirmed that he had been approached and that he had expressed an interest in staging the race if the bid was successful."

The Telegraph explains that the plan involves cars racing along "a track running into the stadium and then around the Olympic Park, which has considerable wide-open spaces, though is designed for pedestrians rather than 700 horsepower F1 cars".

Turning the Olympic Park into an F1 circuit would present major engineering and environmental challenges and would not sit easily alongside London 2012's green image. It was also hoped that the area would become an "urban quarter" after the Games rather than a race track.

Although the plans sound outlandish and the hurdles insurmountable the paper says it is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility. It notes that 2014 Winter Olympic host city Sochi plans to stage a Russian Grand Prix around the new stadium, and points out that F1 ringleader Ecclestone "has long harboured ambitions of a London Grand Prix".

West Ham remain the favourites to take over the stadium, but there have also been bids from University of East London in collaboration with Essex County Cricket Club, which could play some games there, and the University College of Football Business, which specialises in football qualifications.

Another football club, locally-based Leyton Orient could also submit a bid.

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Doubtless the LLDC will begin to laud the burning of a gallon of fuel every three miles if it suits them and F1 will arrive, but there is a nascent but growing movement for electric and other eco race cars...why do they not seek to foster this new genre of motor racing rather than pandering to the corrupt, if utterly thrilling, plaything of the past that is F1?