London, Great Britain -- London played host to A1GP World Cup of Motorsport drivers today as they were given a tour of the Capital's most iconic sights in the build up to this weekend's A1GP season finale at Brands Hatch, Great Britain, 1- 3 May...
London, Great Britain -- London played host to A1GP World Cup of Motorsport drivers today as they were given a tour of the Capital's most iconic sights in the build up to this weekend's A1GP season finale at Brands Hatch, Great Britain, 1- 3 May on a Big Bus Tours open top bus.
Boarding the bus in the heart of the City, the first destination was Piccadilly Circus. This junction, at the centre of London's West End theatre district, is well known for both its bright video displays and neon signs high up on the buildings on its northern side, and the statue of Eros the archer in its centre. Next stop was Trafalgar Square, with Nelson's Column towering at the centre guarded by four lion statues at its base. A well-known tourist attraction, the statue commemorates the British naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The drivers were then taken to the Houses of Parliament (or Westminster Palace). This is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet and is situated on the north bank of the River Thames close to the government buildings of Whitehall. At the north-eastern end is the most famous of its several towers, the Clock Tower, more commonly known as Big Ben after its main bell which strikes every hour.
Next was a relatively modern landmark, but despite this still a popular tourist attraction, the London Eye (also known as the Millennium Wheel). This was formally opened by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on 31 December 1999 to mark the Millennium. Standing at a height of 135-metres (443 ft), the Eye is the biggest Ferris wheel in Europe and since 1 January 2005, has been the focal point of London's New Year celebrations.
One of the final landmarks was Tower Bridge, closely followed by the Tower of London. A historic monument in central London, the Tower of London sits on the north bank of the River Thames, and a highlight of any visit is a tour by one of the Yeomen Warders, or as they are more popularly known, the Beefeaters. The tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison, particularly for high status and royal prisoners, including the future Queen Elizabeth I. It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and, since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Great Britain's Dan Clarke said: "Fortunately I live just west of London near Windsor so I have the perfect balance between being out in the sticks and being able to jump on the train to quickly get into London. It was nice to be on the bus today because being English we don't really get on buses to do tourist things so it was nice to learn a bit more about London. It's an amazing huge spectacular city with so many sights. It was interesting to pick up some more bits of history. There is nothing to be ashamed of with London as it's absolutely marvellous and there is nowhere else like it."
Talking about this weekend's event he continued: "It's a massive honour to be driving the GBR car in front of the British fans. There will be a lot of expectation. We have to be realistic as it's only my third time in the car, but I have been putting in a lot of time and effort and we're making progress. A podium at the end of the weekend would be a big success."
Ireland's Adam Carroll said: "I've lived in England for a long time. I don't come down to London too much but it's a beautiful city so it's always a nice treat to visit and see what a spectacular place it is.
"For the championship to end here at Brands Hatch it couldn't be better. We get some good support here and we had some great publicity back in Dublin and Belfast last week, so hopefully that will help rally up a bit more support. It's the closest thing we have to a home race and all our family and friends are turning up for this, so we just need to go and get the job done."
"I have been here several times as it's not far from Switzerland." Said A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani "It's a famous place and it's pretty impressive with places like St. Paul's Cathedral. If you think how they built it so many years ago it's hard to believe how they could do it. The whole city has a nice flare, especially with the weather being so nice today."
Great Britain's Dan Clarke and Aaron Steele were joined by Ireland's Adam Carroll and Niall Quinn, Australia's John Martin, China's Cong Fu Cheng, Mexico's Salvador Duran, Monaco's Clivio Piccione, New Zealand's Earl Bamber, and Switzerland's Neel Jani and Alexandre Imperatori.
Fans of the series may also have noticed iconic black London taxi cabs advertising the event. There are five of these touring the streets of the City in the run up to this week's event.
Brand Hatch will also be extra special for six lucky winners who are preparing for the trip of a lifetime this weekend. The six will join A1 Team Malaysia at Brands Hatch, Kent to be treated to a very unique insight into top level international racing as guests of the team. The winner of the A1 Team Malaysia competition to design the crew helmet livery will be joined by five other competition winners to watch their local team in action on 1 -- 3 May.