F1 Grand Prix in streets of London

Santander, sponsors of next weekend’s 2012 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix, have released a spectacular concept film, featuring McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, exploring how an F1 race in London might look.

The CGI film, with an imagined 5.156-kilometre circuit taking in some of the UK capital’s most famous landmarks, was produced following a detailed feasibility study for such a race by expert project architects Populous, who consulted Button and Hamilton extensively on the track’s design.

It features a starting grid on The Mall, a near-200mph Santander straight in the run up to Buckingham Palace, and perhaps one of the most audacious corners seen on an F1 track, as 24 cars steer their way from Trafalgar Square into Admiralty Arch.

“Having been immersed in this project, having helped to shape this track, it feels as real to me as anywhere I’ve raced,” said Hamilton. “Jenson and I have worked in the simulator to provide some useful feedback to inform the circuit design, so this is far more than whimsical thinking out loud.”

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

“The film that encapsulates all of this work is massively detailed as well as logistically achievable,” added Hamilton. “And I have to say, this is an utterly epic track and would produce the most stunning and compelling Formula One race.”

Button added: “Both Lewis and I are hugely conscious of how integral the UK is to Formula One right the way from our fan base that is highly knowledgeable and engaged to the technology culture and engineering enterprise that makes us the pre-eminent source of racing innovation anywhere on the planet.

“With all of this background, Silverstone is a natural celebration of the UK’s contribution to Formula One. 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 of a London race, Santander commissioned Populous to undertake an extensive and wide-ranging approach to its feasibility plan, embracing all logistical considerations.

“We mapped out some of London’s most recognised places and landmarks and then worked out how we would integrate them within the layout,” said Populous architect John Rhodes. “The design process was driven by the twin 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.”

Formula One group CEO, Bernie Ecclestone, commented: “The idea of an F1 street race in London is something I have had for many years. It would be magnificent. 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.”

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