As part of an election stunt, politicians in Sydney have said they’d like to steal the Grand Prix away from Melbourne with a street race incorporating the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s an idea that might fool a few voters but it’s unrealistic to think such a proposal could ever happen. Melbourne has a Formula One contract until 2020, with a likely 5 year extension beyond that, so the race is going nowhere anytime soon. Also, using the Harbour Bridge would cripple Sydney’s transport infrastructure and would also limit the circuit to an area that provides no room for the pits, a paddock, or grandstands. It’s a ludicrous suggestion that fails the most basic tests.
However, just a few years ago a similar idea might have been very possible.
Up until recently Sydney had the space to build a more feasible street circuit that still showed off the Harbour Bridge and Opera House without totally disrupting the city. In 2013 redevelopment work started on a piece of land by Sydney Harbour called Barangaroo which is being turned into a casino, office buildings, apartments, and open parkland. If this redevelopment had also included a row of shops that could be converted into garages it might’ve been a suitable base for a Grand Prix circuit too. Barangaroo sits beside a long wide road that would be ideal for the main straight of a Formula One circuit and the surrounding streets also provide viable (if perhaps difficult) opportunities for a layout. On top of that, the casino owners now developing the land would’ve probably been happy with the high-rollers and publicity a Grand Prix would bring to their new venue. A Sydney Grand Prix running under the Harbour Bridge, instead of over it, was once a genuine possibility.
The narrow window of opportunity that existed for a Sydney Grand Prix has closed. The land at Barangaroo is no longer available for pit garages and Melbourne has signed a long term F1 deal. The below map shows what might have been.