Alongside Wimbledon and Royal Ascot, the British Grand Prix is one of the standout events on the British summer sporting calendar. British Grand Prix is one of the oldest Grand Prix events. It traces its roots back to 1926 when it was first staged by the Royal Automobile Club at Brooklands. Since 1950, it has been a fixture in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and hasn’t missed a single year. Now, it is synonymous with Silverstone, its Northamptonshire home since 1948. Let’s see the interesting facts about the British Grand Prix.
10 interesting facts about the British Grand Prix
Since 1948, British Grand Prix has never missed an event. Let’s take a drive down memory lane and explore more British Grand Prix Facts and the history of Silverstone.
1). Before the f1 debut
Formula 1 as we know it today got its start in 1950. But before that, the British Grand Prix was already attracting international competitors. The very first race at Brooklands outside London was won by a French driver, Robert Sénéchal.
As the 1940s came to a close, Silverstone began to establish itself as the pinnacle of circuits in Britain. This made it the perfect venue for the opening race of what we now know as Formula 1.
2). Formula 1 debut
On 13th May 1950, a new era in motor racing history began at Silverstone. Everyone from the king to the best international drivers in the world was there. The inaugural race was won by Nino Farina, racing for Alfa Romeo.
Silverstone developed a reputation as one of the fastest tracks on the circuit. But it wouldn’t get to hog the limelight much longer.
3). Alternating Venues
From 1955 to 1986, the venue of the British Grand Prix alternated between Silverstone and Aintree (1955 to 1962). It then alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch (1963 – 1986).
1955 saw the British Grand Prix head to a name that today we associate with horse racing – Aintree. It was also significant as it saw the first British winner of the British Grand Prix – Stirling Moss. He would go on to win again at Aintree in 1957.
4). Historic Silverstone circuit
Since 1987, Silverstone has taken sole custody of the British Grand Prix. The circuit has cemented its position as the home of motor racing in the UK.
The early days of Silverstone’s scene saw some memorable victories. Many went to some of the greatest champions the sport has ever produced. Nigel Mansell won the 1987 edition and would go on to win again in 1991 and 1992. This final victory was particularly memorable as it came in his sole championship-winning year.
5). Multiple Championships winner
The circuit has been blessed with winners. The drivers who won the Grand Prix eventually won the championship. Multi-championship-winning drivers to claim the British Grand Prix crown in the years to come to include:
- Alain Prost
- Michael Schumacher
- Mika Hakkinen
- Sebastian Vettel
- Fernando Alonso
6). Changes in the circuit
Silverstone had always had a reputation for raw speed. However, the tragic death of Ayrton Senna saw sweeping changes in safety across the sport. At Silverstone, this led to the changes to the track.
The bridge corner was modified with a chicane at Abbey. Ultimately, it was removed from the circuit altogether. In spite of these changes, it remains popular with fans and drivers alike.
7). Often known as Lewis Hamilton Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton burst onto the F1 scene in 2007 and won his maiden World Championship the following year. Along the way, he picked up his first British Grand Prix in 2008. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that he really found his groove at Silverstone.
Since 2014, he has been virtually unstoppable. In the eight years since then, he has picked up an incredible 7 British Grand Prix victories! Only Sebastian Vettel in 2018 was able to halt this unprecedented run.
With 8 British Grand Prix victories in total, Lewis Hamilton is far and away the most successful driver to ever race at the British Grand Prix.
8). 1973 First Lap Carnage
Jody Sheckter made a memorable run to the title in 1979, but six years earlier he found himself stranded in the middle of the track. He hit the wall on the pit straight, and couldn’t get out of the way of the rest of the pack. The result was a multi-car pileup.
Amazingly, only Andrea de Adamich was injured, suffering a broken ankle. The race was won by Peter Revson, but only 13 of the 29 starters made it to the end of the race.
9). Back-to-back Schumacher Incidents
In 1998, Michael Schumacher received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for overtaking during a safety car period. Yet somehow, he managed to win the race in the pit lane.
Sadly, the following year, the race was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Schumacher’s Ferrari suffered brake failure, causing him to crash and break his leg.
10). Multiple Venues
Since 1950, a total of three venues have held the British Grand Prix. Three venues have hosted the British Grand Prix:
- Silverstone 47 times
- Brands Hatch 12 Times
- Aintree 5 Times.
Another circuit – Donington – has also hosted a world championship race in Britain, but it was the European Grand Prix in 1993. Silverstone has been the only circuit to stage the British Grand Prix since 1986.