Sealand, Tuesday: F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has shocked fans and motorsport experts alike by announcing controversial plans to host a Grand Prix on the principality of Sealand from 2011 onwards.
The self-proclaimed autonomous micronation, which consists only of a small platform raised above the North Sea, has been occupied by Major Paddy Roy Bates since 1967 and since then has been trying to establish diplomatic relations with other countries, as well as global recognition of its independence from Britain. It is thought that the hosting of a Grand Prix in the country will raise its global profile and help in its independence movement.
Logistical problems for the Grand Prix have been cited, such as where an F1-standard racing circuit would be constructed given that the “land” area of the country is only 550 square metres, but Ecclestone is confident that these problems can be solved and that the Sealand Grand Prix of 2011 will be the highlight of the F1 calendar.
“We have a few stumbling blocks to surmount first,” Ecclestone admitted, “such as the fact that Sealand does not have its own national motorsport association, but we believe that these problems will be sorted out with time and that we can stage our F1 race in this exciting new location.”
Prince Roy of Sealand hopes to establish himself as a fashionable head of state with a close association with F1, in the manner of Prince Albert of Monaco and Bahrain’s Crown Prince, who have been intimately involved with the Grands Prix in their countries for some time now.
The Formula One Team’s Association is expected to welcome the prospect of a new Grand Prix in Europe, given their general opposition to the huge numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern races being added to the calendar. Whether Sealand’s Grand Prix circuit will be completed before Donington remains to be seen, but most consider it likely.