This weekend marks Silverstone’s 51st staging of this country’s most prestigious motorsport event, the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
JUL 14th 2017
Top 10... Home‑grown Silverstone superstars
The circuit, dubbed the ‘Home of British Motor Racing’, hosted the inaugural World Championship event in May 1950 and has since held the British GP a further 49 times – alternating with Aintree (five races) and Brands Hatch (12) until becoming the sole host in 1987.
And Britain has been the most successful nation at Silverstone. More British manufacturers have won the race than those from other nations, and our drivers have racked up the most wins, too.
Ten British racers have won at Silverstone, with half of them taking the spoils of victory in front of packed and patriotic crowds more than once.
In chronological order, these are our 10 home heroes.
Peter Collins took his third and final career win at Silverstone in 1958, leading all 75 laps in the Ferrari 246 to win by 24 seconds from team-mate Mike Hawthorn. Collins’ win was the last there for a front-engined car. Sadly, the 26-year-old was killed after crashing in the very next race, at the fearsome German Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Great Scot Jim Clark had already won the British Grand Prix at Aintree in 1962, then took a second win – at Silverstone – a year later. He made it three British GP wins, with victory at Brands Hatch in ’64, and completed his domination with two more wins at Silverstone in ’65 and ’67. In true Clark style, all five of his home wins came from pole position.
Jackie Stewart’s Matra engaged in a fierce battle with the Lotus of friend, rival and polesitter Jochen Rindt at Silverstone in 1969, eventually prevailing when Rindt had to pit with bodywork rubbing on a tyre. JYS won again in 1971 after passing the Ferrari of poleman Clay Regazzoni in the early stages and disappearing up the road to victory in the Tyrrell 003.
After the shenanigans of disqualification, reinstatement, victory and another disqualification at Brands Hatch in 1976, James Hunt made amends for McLaren at Silverstone a year later. The World Champion started from pole but had to give best to John Watson’s Brabham for 49 of the 68 laps. And then Wattie suffered fuel-feed issues, allowing Hunt to assume control and take a famous home win.
Four years after the pain of having a maiden British GP win ripped from his grasp, John Watson came good, this time for McLaren. Aboard John Barnard’s groundbreaking carbon-tubbed MP4/1, the Northern Irishman started fifth on the grid but claimed the glory when the faster Renaults of Alain Prost and René Arnoux suffered electrical glitches.
Nigel Mansell and Williams were synonymous with the British Grand Prix during the second half of the 1980s and early ’90s. They’d won together for the first time at Brands Hatch’s European GP in 1985, repeated the feat in the ’86 British GP at the Kent venue and came to Silverstone in 1987 expected to win. Fired up by a fervent crowd, ‘Our Nige’ did just that. And nobody saw which way he went for British GP win number three and four in 1991 and ’92.
For two-thirds of the 1993 British GP, Damon Hill looked like taking a comfortable maiden F1 win – in front of his home fans. And then the Renault engine cruelly let go, handing the win to team-mate Alain Prost. Twelve months on, Damon’s revenge was sweet, taking victory from pole position by more than a minute.
Benetton driver Johnny Herbert was busy scrapping for third with McLaren man David Coulthard in 1995 when the first of his lucky breaks kicked in: team-mate Schumacher and Williams title nemesis Damon Hill collided while disputing the lead. Herbert and Coulthard took over at the front, but a stop-go penalty for DC – for pitlane speeding – dropped him to third and handed Herbert his second lucky break of the day in the shape of a fairytale win.
Scot David Coulthard became only the third Brit to win back-to-back British GPs when he triumphed for McLaren in 1999 and 2000. The first victory was made a fraction easier by Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher’s opening-lap, leg-breaking smash and team-mate Mika Häkkinen’s suspension failure, while in 2000, the only time the race has been held in April, he dodged the floods to beat Häkkinen by a shade over a second...
This weekend Lewis Hamilton can emulate Jim Clark by taking his fourth consecutive British GP win and fifth in total. His first victory came in super-wet 2008 when he blitzed the field to win by more than a minute for McLaren. After poor luck in his subsequent four British GPs with the Woking team – he was on the podium only once, in 2010 – he looked set for a second home win with the locally-based Mercedes team in 2013 until a puncture dropped him down the order. From 2014 onwards, however, he’s not been off the top step of the podium in the silver machines, much to the Silverstone fans’ delight.
Photography courtesy of LAT Images
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