|"Home of British Motor Racing"1|
Silverstone Circuit – 2010 Onwards
|Location||Silverstone, Northamptonshire (part) and Buckinghamshire (part), England, UK|
|Major events||FIA Formula One : British Grand Prix
FIM MotoGP : British Grand Prix
FIM Superbike World Championship
FIA GT1 World Championship
Le Mans Series
European Formula Two Championship
FIA International Formula 3000
British Touring Car Championship
British F3 International Series
British Superbike Championship
FIA World Endurance Championship
|Arena Grand Prix Circuit2|
|Length||5.901 km (3.667 mi)|
|Lap record||1:30.874 ( Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2010, F1)|
|Bridge Grand Prix Circuit|
|Length||5.141 km (3.194 mi)|
|Lap record||1:18.739 ( Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004, F1)|
|Length||3.619 km (2.249 mi)|
|Length||2.638 km (1.639 mi)|
|Length||1.281 km (0.796 mi)|
Silverstone Circuit is a British motor racing circuit next to the Northamptonshire villages of Silverstone and Whittlebury. The circuit straddles the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire border, with the current main circuit entry on the Buckinghamshire side. The Northamptonshire towns of Towcester (5 miles) and Brackley (7 miles) and Buckinghamshire town of Buckingham (6 miles) are close by, and the nearest large towns are Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Silverstone is the current home of the British Grand Prix, which it first hosted in 1948. The 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the first race in the newly-created Formula One World Championship. The race rotated between Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch from 1955 to 1986, but relocated permanently to Silverstone in 1987.
On 30 September 2004 British Racing Drivers' Club president Jackie Stewart announced that the British Grand Prix would not be included on the 2005 provisional race calendar, and if it were, would probably not occur at Silverstone.3 However on 9 December an agreement was reached with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone ensuring that the track would host the British Grand Prix until 2009 after which Donington Park would become the new host of the British Grand Prix. However, the Donington Park leaseholders suffered economic problems resulting in the BRDC signing a 17 year deal with Bernie Ecclestone to hold the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.4
Silverstone is built on the site of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone, which opened in 1943. The airfield's three runways, in classic WWII triangle format, lie within the outline of the present track.
Silverstone was first used for motorsport by an ad hoc group of friends who set up an impromptu race in September 1947. One of their members, Maurice Geoghegan, lived in nearby Silverstone village and was aware that the airfield was deserted. He and eleven other drivers raced over a two mile circuit, during the course of which Geoghegan himself ran over a sheep that had wandered onto the airfield. The sheep was killed and the car written off, and in the aftermath of this event the informal race became known as the Mutton Grand Prix.5
The next year the Royal Automobile Club took a lease on the airfield and set out a more formal racing circuit. Their first two races were held on the runways themselves, with long straights separated by tight hairpin corners, the track demarcated by hay bales. However, for the 1949 International Trophy meeting, it was decided to switch to the perimeter track. This arrangement was used for the 1950 and 1951 Grands Prix. In 1952 the start line was moved from the Farm Straight to the straight linking Woodcote and Copse corners, and this layout remained largely unaltered for the following 38 years. For the 1975 meeting a chicane was introduced to try to tame speeds through the mighty Woodcote Corner (although MotoGP would still use the circuit without the chicane up until 1986), and Bridge Corner was subtly rerouted in 1987.
The track underwent a major redesign between the 1990 and 1991 races, transforming the ultra-fast track (where in its last years, every corner was taken in no lower than 4th or 5th gear (depending on the transmission of the car) except for the Bridge chicane, which was usually taken in 2nd gear) into a more technical track. The reshaped track's first F1 race was perhaps the most memorable of recent years, with Nigel Mansell coming home first in front of his home crowd. On his victory lap back to the pits Mansell even found time to pick up stranded rival Ayrton Senna and give him a lift on his side-pod, after Senna's McLaren had run out of fuel on the final lap of the race.
Following the deaths of Senna and fellow Grand Prix driver Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994, many Grand Prix circuits were modified in order to reduce speed and increase driver safety. As a consequence of this the entry from Hangar Straight into Stowe Corner was modified in 1995 so as to make its entry less dangerous and, as a result, less challenging, and the flat-out Abbey kink was modified to a chicane in just 19 days before the 1994 GP.
With the termination of hostilities in Europe in 1945, the first motorsport event on English soil was held at Gransden Lodge in 1946 and the next on the Isle of Man, but there was nowhere permanent on the mainland which was suitable. 7
In 1948, Royal Automobile Club (RAC) set its mind upon running a Grand Prix and started to cast around public roads on the mainland. There was, of course, no possibility of closing the public highway as could happen on the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands; it was a time of austerity and there was no question of building a new circuit from scratch so some viable alternative has to be found. 7
What was available? There was a considerable number of ex-RAF airfields and it was to these the RAC turned their attention to with particular interest being paid to two near the centre of England – Smitterfield near Stratford-upon-Avon and one behind the village of Silverstone. The latter was still under the control of the Air Ministry, but a lease was arranged in August 1948 and plans put into place to run the first British Grand Prix since the RAC last ran one at Brooklands in 1927 (those held at Donington Park in the late 1930’s had the title of ‘Donington Grand Prix’). 7
In August 1948, the RAC employed one James Brown on the three-month contact to create the Grand Prix circuit in less than two months. Nearly 40 years later, Brown died virtually in harness. 7
The prospect of running a Grand Prix In England as late as October is one which would be countenanced today but the idea was relished in 1948, for it was, after all only continuing the tradition handed down from Brooklands and Donington Park. So it was that on Thursday 30th September, Silverstone first reverberated to the sound of Formula One motor racing engines, with the race on the 2nd October. 7
The new circuit was marked out with oil drums and straw bales and consisted of the perimeter road and the runaways running into the centre of the airfield from two directions. Spectators were contained behind rope barriers and the officials were housed in tents. An estimated 100,000 people arrived to witness the first post-war Grand Prix on English soil. 7
There were no factory entries but Scuderia Ambrosiana sent two Maserati 4CLT/48s for Luigi Villoresi and Alberto Ascari who finished in that order (notwithstanding having started from the back of the grid of 25 cars) ahead of Bob Gerard in his ERA R14B/C. The race was 239 miles long and was run at an average speed of 72.28mph. Fourth place went to Louis Rosier’s Talbot-Lago T26 , followed home by ’Biba’ in an another Maserati 4CLT/48. 78
The second Grand Prix at Silverstone was scheduled for May 1949 and was officially designated the British Grand Prix. it was to use the full perimeter track with a chicane inserted at Club Corner. The length of the second circuit was exactly three miles and the race run over 100 laps, making it the longest post-was Grand Prix held in England. There were again 25 starters and victory went to a ’San Remo’ Maserati 4CLT/48, this time in the hands of Toulo de Graffenried from Bob Gerard in his familiar ERA, and Louis Rosier in a 4½-litre Talbot-Lago. The race average speed had risen to 77.31mph. The attendance was estimated at anything up to 120,000. 79
Also in 1949, the first running took place of what was to become an institution at Silverstone, the International Trophy sponsored by the Daily Express and which become virtually a second Grand Prix. The first International Trophy was run on 20 August in two heats and a final; victory in heat one went to Prince Birabongse (‘Bira’) and the second to Giuseppe Farina – both driving Maserati 4CLT/48s, but the final went to a Ferrari Tipo 125 driven by Alberto Ascari from Farina, with Luigi Villoresi third in another Ferrari. For this meeting, the chicane at Club Corner was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for 25 years. 71011
The 1950 British Grand Prix was a significant occasion on for two reasons; one, it was the first ever World Championship Grand Prix, carrying the title of the European Grand Prix; and the event was graced by the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – the first and only time a reigning monarch has attended a motor race in Britain. 712
The year was the institution of the World Championship for Driver, and Silverstone witness the was the first time that Alfa Romeo 158 ‘Alfettas’ had been seen in England, and they took the first three places in the hands of Giuseppe Farina, Luigi Fagioli and Reg Parnell, with the race average having increased to a staggering 90.96mph, however the race distance had been reduced to 205miles. 713
1951 was memorable for it saw the defeat of the all-conquering Alfas ,with victory going to the popular Argentinian driver, Froilán González driving the Ferrari 375. His fellow countryman, Juan Manuel Fangio was second in an Alfa Romeo 159B and Luigi Villoresi in another Ferrari 375. The race distance had increase to 263 miles, and the race average speed was now 96.11mph.714
The International Trophy attracted the cream of Formula One , including the invincible Alfas, whose cars won in the hands of Fangio and Farinas. However, the heavens opened for the final and visibility was almost nil, and in those conditions the Alfetta with their Supercharged engines were at a distinct disadvantage. When the race was abandoned after only six laps, Reg Parnell was in the lead in the ”Thinwall Special”; no official winner was declared. 7
In 1952, the RAC decided it no longer wished to run the circuit, and on 1st January the lease was taken on by the BRDC, with James Brown continuing as track manager. The lease covered only the perimeter track and other areas at specific times. Coinciding with the BRDC taking over the running of the Grand Prix, there was a little unrest within the sport which lead to the downgrading of Grand Prix racing to Formula Two, which was won by Alberto Ascari in a runaway fashion at 90.9mph from his Ferrari team-mate Piero Taruffi – both driving the Tipo 500. The podium was completed by Mike Hawthorn driving a Cooper-Bristol T12. 7
The same situation continued into 1953 with the World Championship being run for Formula Two cars. The race was a straight fight between the Maserati and Ferrari teams, with victory going to Ascari at 92.9mph abroad a Ferrari Tipo 500 from the Maserati A6GCM of Fangio and another Tipo 500 of Farina. The racecard included a Formula Libre race which really put the Grand Prix into perspective; Farina drove the Thinwall Special to victory at a higher speed than the actual GP, setting the first lap record at over 100mph, at 100.16mph. 7
The 1954 Grand Prix season was the new 2.5-litre Formula One and had attracted interest from some major players. Lancia had joined the fray with their D50 and Daimler-Benz were back; the appearance of Lancia meant that there were no fewer than three Italian teams completing at the highest level. The others being Ferrari and Maserati. The British were catered for by the Owen Racing Organisation with their BRM’s, the Vanwall of Tony Vandervell and Connaught still fighting the good fight, while Cooper-Bristol were not to be forgotten. At the start of the season, Mercedes-Benz had swept all before them, but Silverstone was a débâcle for the team which returned to Untertürkheim with their tails between their legs. The 263-mile race was won by González from Hawthorn in the works 625s with Onofre Marimón third in the works Maserati 250F. The best Mercedes driver was poleman Fangio in his W196. 7
By the time the Grand Prix returned to Silverstone in 1956, Mercedes-Benz had gone, as had Lancia as an independent entrant, the cars having been handed to Scuderia Ferrari, who ran them as ‘Lancia-Ferraris’. The great Fangio scored his only British Grand Prix win in one of these cars. Second was another Lancia-Ferrari which had started the race in the hands of Alfonso de Portago, but was taken over by Peter Collins at half-distance and third place was Jean Behra in a Maserati 250F. 7
Matters were somewhat happier for the British enthusiast at the International Trophy; a quality field had been attracted including Fangio and Collins in their Lancia-Ferraris, but the 13 laps of the race were led by the new BRM P25 driven by Hawthorn. When the engine of the BRM expired, Stirling Moss in the Vanwall took over, going on to win. With the Lancia’s broken by the Brit, the rest of the podium was taken by the Connaughts of Archie Scott Brown and Desmond Titterington. 7
For 1958 drastic rule changes introduced into Formula One, Fangio had retired and Maserati had withdrawn due to financial difficulties. Throughout the season the battles was between Ferrari and Vanwall and it was fervently hoped that Vandervell would success at home but it was not to be; the green cars fell apart, Stuart Lewis-Evans the best placed finisher in fourth. Victory went to Collins from Hawthorn, both driving Ferrari Dino 246s. The crowd of 120,000 did witness at hat-trick of English drivers on the podium with Roy Salvadori coming home third in one of John Cooper’s Coventry-Climax rear-engined powered cars. 7
At the British Grand Prix of 1960, the front-engined cars were completely outclassed, the podium going to the Coventry-Climax-powered cars, with victory going to Jack Brabham in the works Cooper T53 from John Surtees and Innes Ireland in their Lotus 18s. Although the race is remembered as the race lost by Graham Hill lost, rather than won by Brabham. Hill stalled his BRM on the grid, left the line in last place, then proceeded to carve through the whole field. Once in the lead, the BRM was troubled by fading brakes which lead to Hill spinning off at Copse Corner. 717
1961 was the year of the new 1.5 litre Formula One introduced by the governing body on safety grounds – it met with strong opposition in Britain which gave birth to the short-lived ‘Inter-Continental Formula’, which extended the life of the now-obsolete Formula One cars. The International Trophy was run to this Formula and produced a notable first and last – the first and only appearance of the American Scarab and the last appearance of the Vanwall, in the hands of Surtees. The race was wet and Moss demonstrated his supreme prowess in Rob Walker’s Cooper by lapping all but Brabham twice. 7
In 1962, the second year of the Formula, the International Trophy was run for the 1.5 litre cars. This was the classic occasion when Hill in the BRM crossed the finishing line almost sideways to snatch victory from Jim Clark’s Lotus 24; both drivers were credited with the same race time. 718
Clark was to win the British Grand Prix when it returned to Silverstone in 1963, driving the Lotus-Climax 25. By now, even Ferrari had succumbed to the rear-engined layout, but sent only one to Northamptonshire for Surtees (Ferrari 156). He finished second, ahead of three BRM P57’s of Hill, Richie Ginther and Lorenzo Bandini. 719
For the 1965 season, BRM had taken a chance of signed Scottish driven straight from Formula Three; the International Trophy was only his fourth Formula One race, but despite this he won handsomely from Surtees in the Ferrari. The newcomer was Jackie Stewart. When the Formula One returned for the British Grand Prix later that year, Stewart finished a creditable fifth. Fellow Scot, Clark won the race in his Lotus-Climax 33 from the BRM P261 of Hill and the Ferrari of Surtees. 7
The following year, the new 3-litre Formula One was heralded as the ‘Return of Power’, however the first Grand Prix under these regulations was held at Brands Hatch. It was not until 1967, that the big-engined cars came to Northamptionshire. The result remained unchanged with Clark winning in the Lotus-Cosworth 49, at a race average speed of 117.6mph. Second was Kiwi Denny Hulme abroad the Brabham-Repco from the Ferrari 312 of his fellow countrymen Chris Amon. 7
There was a frightening increase in race average speed in 1969, for it rose by 10mph, to 127.2mph when Stewart won in his Matra-Cosworth MS80 from Jacky Ickx (Brabham-Cosworth BT26) and Bruce McLaren driving one of his own Cosworth-powered M7Cs. 7
By 1971, the 3-litre era was now into its fifth season; it was also the year when sponsorship came to the fore. Ken Tyrrell became a constructor and Jackie Stewart won at Silverstone driving the Tyrrell 003 on his way to a second World Championship. Ronnie Peterson was second in March 711 from Emerson Fittipaldi in Lotus 72D; all were Cosworth-powered in what fast becoming Formula Super Ford; the race average was 130.5mph. 7
1973 was the year that Jody Scheckter lost control of his McLaren at the completion of the first lap, spinning into the pit wall and setting in motion the biggest accident ever seen on a British motor racing circuit. The race was stopped on lap two and the carnage cleared away; it speaks highly for the construction of the cars that only one driver was injured. The race was won Scheckter’s team-mate, Peter Revson (McLaren M23-Cosworth) from Peterson (Lotus 72E) and Denny Hulme (McLaren M23). The race average speed had risen again to 131.75mph. 7
The 1973 débâcle wrought changes upon Silverstone as it was deemed necessary to slow these cars through Woodcote, therefore, a chicane was inserted. ‘Formula Super Ford’ reached its peak in 1975, when 26 of the 28 entries were Cosworth-powered, there being just two Ferraris to challenge them. Tom Pryce placed his Shadow DN5 on pole for the 1975 Grand Prix, but an accident destroyed his chances as the race was run in appalling weather and it stopped at two-thirds distance. Victory went to Fittipaldi (McLaren M23) from Carlos Pace (Brabham BT44B) and Scheckter (Tyrrell 007). 7
International motor racing at Silverstone is not concerned solely to Formula One, however, and 1976 saw one of the closest finished in endurance racing during the Silverstone Six-Hour race, which was a round of the World Championship for Makes. The series was almost a German benefit that season as the main contenders were the Porsche 935s and BMW 3-litre CSLs (common known as the ‘Batmobiles’). Porsche had had the upper hand in the opening rounds of the series, but at Silverstone things were diffierent. John Fitzpatrick and Tom Walkinshaw kept their BMW ahead to win by 197 yards (1.18secs) from the Bob Wollek/Hans Heyer Porsche 935 Turbo. Third was a Porsche 934 Turbo in the hands of Leo Kinnunen and Egon Evertz. 7
The 1977 British Grand Prix saw the beginning of a revolution in Formula One, for towards the back of the grid was the product of Règie Renault which was exploiting a rule in F1 regulations that allowed the use of 1.5-litre turbocharged engines. The Renault RS01 expired early in the race. Ulsterman John Watson had an early battle with James Hunt, but the fuel system in Watson’s Brabham-Alfa Romeo let him down and the winner Hunt (McLaren M26) won at a speed of 130.36, with Niki Lauda second for Ferrari from Gunnar Nilsson in a Lotus. 7
Once the most prestigious race of the motorcycle calendar, the Isle of Man TT had been increasingly boycotted by the top riders, and finally succumbed to pressure and was dropped. This replaced by the British Motorcycle Grand Prix. 1977 marked the beginning of this era, and Silverstone was the chosen venue. It took place on 14 August, with Pat Hennen riding a Suzuki RG500 to victory from Steve Baker (Yamaha). 20
The International Trophy attracted World Championship contenders for the last time in 1978 but the race witnessed the debut of the epoch-making Lotus 79 in the hands of Mario Andretti. Such events as this, gave the Formula One also-rans a chance to start which they were normally denied in Grand Prixs; two such were the Theodore and Fittipaldi. Keke Rosberg won the former in atrocious conditions from Fittipaldi in his namesake car. 7
14 May witnessed the running of the Silverstone Six-Hours, a round of the World Championship for Makes. A 3.2-litre Porsche 935 won in the hands of Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass from a 3.0-litre version driven by Wollek and Henri Pescarolo; third and fourth were BMW 320s handled by Harald Grohs/Eddy Joosen and Freddy Kottulinsky/Markus Hotz. The race was run over 235 laps of the Grand Prix circuit to make a total of a little over 689 miles which the winning car covered at 114.914mph. 721
Come the 1979 Grand Prix and the passage of two years had made a great difference to the performance of the turbocharged Renaults; the car which qualified on the last row in 1977 was now on the front row beside Alan Jones in the Williams FW07. When Jones’s Cosworth expired, his team-mate Clay Regazzoni moved into the lead, going on to win from René Arnoux in the Renault RS10 with Jean-Pierre Jarier third in the Tyrrell 009. The winners average speed was 138.80mph. 7
The 1979 British Motorcycle Grand Prix was again held at Silverstone and would be one of the closet races in the history of Motorcycle Grand Prix racing. The 1978 winner Kenny Roberts and the pair of works Suzuki riders, Barry Sheene and Wil Hartog broke away from the rest of the field. After a few laps, Hartog fell off the pace as Sheene and Roberts continued to swap the lead throughout the 28-lap event, the American winning for the second time ahead of Sheene by a narrow margin of just three-hundreds of a second. 22
In May 1980, World Championship for Makes – sports cars, in other words returned in form of the Silverstone Six-Hours, which was won by Alain de Cadenet, driving a car bearing his own name, partnered by Desiré Wilson, the 235 laps (687 miles) being completed at 114.602mph. The only other to complete the full race distance was the Siegfried Brunn/Jürgen Barth (Porsche 908/3), with a Porsche 935K Turbo driven by John Paul and Brian Redman third, a lap down. 723
The passage of a further two years saw the arrival of the one-one-one grid in 1981, albeit staggered in two rows. The turbocharged era had arrived for not only Renault occupy the front row of the grid, but turbo-engined Ferrari were fourth and eighth. The Renaults dominated the race, but total reliability was still lacking and the day went to John Watson in a McLaren MP4/1. Second place went to Carlos Reutemann in the Williams FW07C from the Talbot-Ligier JS17 of Jacques Laffite, a lap down; the race speed was down a little at 137.64mph. 7
For 1982 endurance sport car racing entered a rejuvenated phrase with the coming of Group C; the BRDC and l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest instituted a joint Silverstone/Le Mans Challenge Trophy. The trophy was eventually went to Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell in a Porsche 956, but at Silverstone they could not make maximum use of the fuel allowance and victory went to the Lancia LC1 of Riccardo Patrese and Michele Alboreto. The winning car completed the 240 laps at a speed of 128.5mph, with the second-place car three laps adrift, that of Ickx/Bell. The final podium place went to the Joest Racing Porsche 936C Turbo of Bob Wollek/Jean-Michel Martin/Philippe Martin. 724
The big sports cars returned to Northamptonshire on 8 May 1983, to contest the Silverstone 1000 kilometres which was a round of the newly instigated World Endurance Championship. It was a Porsche benefit with Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof bringing their 956 home ahead of Wollek and Stefan Johansson in an identical car – in fact 956s filled the first five places. 7
In the 1983 British Grand Prix, the first Cosworth-powered car was in 13th place on the grid, all the cars ahead of it were being powered by turbocharged engines. Fuel consumption of the turbos was heavy and refuelling mid-race had became de rigueur, the mechanics now playing as important part as the drivers. With the ever-increasing power, speeds were continually on the up and in practise René Arnoux put in a lap at over 150mph in his Ferrari. In the race, the lap record was raised to over 140mph by a relative newcomer from France, Alain Prost who won the race in the Renault RE40, at an average speed of 139.218mph, from Nelson Piquet in the Brabham-BMW BT52B and Patrick Tambay in a Ferrari 126C3. Finishing fourth, also using Renault power, was the Lotus 94T of future British hero, Nigel Mansell. 725
In 1985 International Trophy (run 24th March) saw the race again make history, as it was the inaugural event, under the regulations for the new International Formula 3000. Kiwi racer, Mike Thackwell wrote himself into the record books by winning the International Trophy for the third time, and the first F3000 race in the process, driving a Ralt RT20 from John Nielsen in a similar car. The lower step on the podium went a March 85B driven by Michel Ferté. 7
Six weeks later, the big sports cars returned for the Silverstone 1000kms. This turned out to be a Porsche benefit, the Stuttgart cars taking the five of the top six placings in the shape of four 962Cs and a 956. The winners were the work pairing of Ickx/Mass from their team-mates Bell and Hans Stuck but third was the Lancia-Martini of Patrese and Alessandro Nannini.
The 1985 British Grand Prix saw Keke Rosberg set a qualifying lap at over 160mph. Three others clocked an average lap speed of over 159mph. The turbo era had reached its zenith. It’s worth remembering that Rosberg achieved that speed with an slow puncture. The actual was a peak in the history of Silverstone and while Prost put the new lap record up to 150.035mph it was something of an economy run as the FIA had limited fuel capacities. Prost went on the win in the race, in the McLaren MP4/2B, at an average of 146.246mph from the Ferrari 156/85 of Alboreto and the Ligier JS25 of Jacques Laffite. 726
The International season opened on 13 April with the first round of the Intercontinental F3000 Championship. The first home was Pascal Fabré with a Lola T86/50 from Emanuele Pirro (March) and Nielsen (Ralt). 7
In 1986, the Silverstone 1000kms run on 5 May, was a round of the World Endurance Championship, which Silk Cut Jaguar (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) won in a year when everything did not exactly go their way. However, the Derek Warwick/Eddie CheeverXJR9 was the only car to complete the distance of 212 laps, at a speed of 129.05mph. The Stuck/Bell Porsche 962C was two laps down in second place, with a 962C a further three laps adrift in the hands of Jo Gartner and Tiff Needell. 7
Someone had become rather more than than a little concerned over the 160mph lap in 1985, for by the time the Grand Prix returned in Silverstone in 1987, a new corner was inserted before Woodcote which changed the character of the circuit. However, the first International meeting in 1987 was the initial round of the Intercontinental F3000 Championship on 12 April. The race was run at 103.96mph, the winner being Mauricio Gugelmin in a Ralt from Michel Trollé in a Lola and Roberto Moreno aboard another Ralt. 7
Things went somewhat better for Jaguar in 1987 for they the Silverstone 1000kms, their fourth successive win the World Sports Car Championship. The XJR8s putting on a truly impressive demonstration to take a one-two finish. The first car home was that of Cheever and Raul Boesel, followed by Jan Lammers and Watson, with the Porsche 962C of Stuck and Bell third; these three crews covered the whole lap distance of 210 laps of the full GP circuit, the winning radio averaging 123.42mph. 7
And so to the 1987 British Grand Prix, the event now firmly established at Silverstone. The first two placing were a repeat the of 1986 race at Brands Hatch, Mansell winning from his Williams-Honda team-mate Piquet at 146.208mph and Ayrton Senna in the Lotus-Honda. The race will always be remembered the inter-team rivalry of the Williams pairing. Following a late pit stop in a bid to cure a vibration in the car, Mansell find himself 16.8secs behind Piquet with only 17 laps to go. But Mansell proceeded to eat into Piquet’s lead – more than a second per lap – until with five laps to go the gap was only 1.6 seconds. With two laps to go Mansell slipstreamed Piquet down the Hanger Straight, jinked left and then dived right to pass Piquet Sr., into Stowe Circuit. To a tumultuous reception, Mansell went on to win the race. 727
The 1988 race was won at 124.142mph, the dramatic reduction in race speed is attributable to the monsoon-like conditions, the entire race being run in pouring rain. Senna splashed his way to victory abroad his McLaren from Mansell (Williams) and Nannini (Benetton). 728
The 1988 Silverstone 1000kms saw Cheever take a hat-trick of victories for Jaguar, this time partnered by Martin Brundle. The XJR9 won at 128.02mph from the Sauber-Mercedes C9 driven by Jean-Louis Schlesser and Mass. The second Sauber driven by Mauro Baldi and James Weaver, was third, two laps down, while third on the road was the Porsche 962C of Bell and Needell which was disqualified for an oversize fuel tank. 7
April at Silverstone is not the warmest place to be but none the less F3000 contingent contested the first round of the 1989 International F3000 Championship. Thomas Danielsson won at the wheel of a Reynard 89D, at a speed of 131.56mph. Second by 0.5secs was Philippe Favre in a Lola T89/50 from Mark Blundell and Jean Alesi in Reynards. 7
Mid-July is the traditional time for the British Grand Prix and on the 16th, over 90,000 spectators converged upon the circuit to see Prost score his 38th GP win in the McLaren-Honda MP4/5, at 143.694mph. Mansell brought the Ferrari 641 into second place from Nannini’s Benetton.
The weekend of 19/20 May 1990 was a busy one at Silvestone, for on the Saturday, a round of the FIA F3000 Championship was run on the Grand Prix circuit, and on the Sunday the contenders in the World Sports-Prototype Championship had their turn. In the F3000 race, Scotland’s Allan McNish led Érik Comas home from Marco Apicella. The first two were Lola-Mugen T90/50 mounted, while the third-placed car was a Reynard-Mugen 90D. The sports cars again ran over 300 miles, contesting the Shell BRDC Empire Trophy. The first three places went to British cars, with Jaguar first and second from a Spice-Cosworth in the hands of Fermín Vélez and Bruno Giacomelli. The winning Jaguar XJR11 of Martin Brundle and Michel Ferté was the only to run the full distance of 101 laps, lapping even the second-placed XJR11 of Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace. 7
And so to July, and the British Grand Prix; once again it was over 190 miles and was won at 145.253mph; Alain Prost was now driving for Ferrari and his victory from Thierry Boutsen in the Williams and Ayrton Senna’s McLaren. 7
When the Group C cars returned in 1991, they raced for the World Sports Car Championship, but the race distance was reduced to 269 miles (83 laps of the GP circuit) and it was a straight battle Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, with victory going to the Jaguar XJR14 of Teo Fabi and Derek Warwick, at a speed of 122.048mph. In second place, four laps behind came the Mercedes C291 of Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger, followed by the singleton driver XJR14 of Brundle. 7
July came, of course with it the Grand Prix. The almost unbelievably popular victory was Nigel Mansell’s 18th Grand Prix win, making him the most successful English driver ever. Only two other drivers completed the full race distance; Gerhard Berger for McLaren and Prost for Ferrari. 7
1992 was once more a very busy International season for Silverstone with a round of the International F3000 Championship, the World Sports Car Championship, and of course, the Grand Prix. The first were run on the same day, 10 May. Although the practice was spoilt by hailstorm, but the races were run in bright weather The F3000 victor was Jordi Gené who completed the 37 laps at a speed of 121.145mph in a Reynard-Mugen 92D, from a similar Judd-engined example in the hands of Rubens Barrichello. Lola-Cosworth were third and fourth, driven by Olivier Panis and Emanuele Naspetti. 7
The sports car race was a sad affair with but a handful of cars coming to the grid; there were 11 starters and just five finishers. The race was won by the Peugeot 905 of Warwick and Yannick Dalmas at 122.661mph, two laps ahead of the Maurizio Sandro Sala/Johnny Herbert Mazda MXR-01 which was four laps of the Lola-Judd T92/10 driven by Jésus Pareja and Stefan Johansson. At the end of the season, the World Sports Car Championship was no more. 7
The Grand Prix was a happier affair with Williams-Renaults of Mansell and Riccardo Patrese taking top honours from the Benettons of Brundle and Schumacher. ‘Our Nige’ dominated practice and the race, winning at 133.772mph. 7
Six days after completing at Donington Park, the F3000 guys were at Silverstone for the second round of the 1993 International F3000 Championship. Gil de Ferran won at 119.462mph from David Coulthard and Michael Bartels - all were driving Cosworth powered Reynard 93Ds. 7
Despite back-to-back Grand Prix victories for Williams, Mansell would not be back in 1993 to try for a famous hat-trick as he was racing in the States. However, things looked good his replacement, Damon Hill after he set fastest time in practice, but Prost (now at Williams) pipped him to pole by just 0.128secs and he went on to win the race after Hill’s engine exploded 18 laps from home. Second and third were the Benettons of Schumacher and Patrese. 729
A year later, the Grand Prix was a race of controversy which rumbled on for most of the season; Hill was barely ahead of Schumacher on the grid and on the green flag lap the young German sprinted ahead of the Englishmen which is not allowed under the rules, cars being required to maintain station during the green flag lap. The race authorities informed Benetton that their man had been penalised 5sec for his transgression but they did not realise that it was a stop/go penalty and did not call Schumacher in, so he was black-flagged; which he ignored for six laps. For failing to respond to the black flag, Schumacher was disqualified, having finished second on the road. Hill won the race at 125.609mph from Jean Alesi in the Ferrari and Mika Häkkinen (McLaren). 7
The 1994 F3000 race was an all Reynard 94D affair. The 38-lap race was won by Franck Lagorce winning at 119.512mph, from Coulthard and de Ferran. The race distance for the following season had increased by two. Victorious on this occasion was Riccardo Rosset driving Super Nova’s Reynard-Cosworth AC 95D from his team-mate Vincenzo Sospiri; Allan McNish was third in a Zytek-Judd KV-engined 95D. 7
Hill and Schumacher were not having a happy 1995 and managed to take each other off after the final pit stops, leaving Coulthard in the lead which he lost when he had to take a 10 sec ‘stop/go’ penalty for speeding in the pit lane. All of this left Herbert to take his maiden Grand Prix win – he was euphoric an was held shoulder high on the podium by the second and third-placed men, Coulthard and Alesi. 7
On 12 May 1996, the Northamptonshire circuit hosted a round of the International BPR series which was very a British affair. First was the McLaren F1 GTR of Andy Wallace and Olivier Grouillard followed by the Jan Lammers/Perry McCarthy Lotus Esprit and another McLaren in the hands of James Weaver and Ray Bellm. 7
At the Grand Prix on the 14th July, the pressures on Hill as national favourite and son of a famous father (Graham Hill) were not inconsiderable but he responded well, setting pole. Unfortunately, he muffed the start and late spun out of contention when a front wheel nut became loose, and his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve went on to win at a fraction over 124mph, from Berger’s Benetton and the McLaren of Häkkinen. 7
From the start of 1998, the FIA decreed that all Formula One girds must be straight: in order to comply with this the RAC moved the start line forward at Silverstone but not, significantly, the finish line. This led to some confusion at the end of the Grand Prix, which was scheduled for 60 laps, but was effectively 59.95 laps: it was more than a little fortunate that the timing was being taken from the finish line and not the start line as the winning cars was in the pits at the end of the race and the Ferrari pit was situated between the two lines. The chequered flag is supposed to be waved at the winning car and then showed to the other competitors, but it was waved at the second man who though that he had won! 7
Victory went to Schumacher at the wheel of a Ferrari in appalling conditions. It was something of a farce, for in addition to the pit lane confusion, he was penalised 10sec for passing another racer under a yellow flag. The stewards failed to inform the teams of their decision in the proper manner so Schumacher took his stop go penalty in the pits, after the race was over! McLaren appealed to the FIA, but the appeal was rejected and the results were confirmed, with Häkkinen in the McLaren and Eddie Irvine third in the second Ferrari. 7
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship withdrew the track from its calendar in 2007, however demand from teams and sponsors saw the return of Silverstone to the 2008 BTCC calendar. Silverstone also hosts rounds of the FIA GT, British Superbikes, British F3, British GT and Le Mans Series championships as well as many club racing series and the world's largest historics race meeting, the Silverstone Classic. It is also host to one of the UK's only 24-hour car races, the Britcar 24, which is gaining in popularity, having ran between 2005 and 21012.
It has in the past hosted exhibition rounds of the D1 Grand Prix both in 2005 and 2006. The course, starting from the main straight used in club races, makes use of both Brooklands and Luffield corners to form an S-bend – a requirement in drifting – and is regarded by its judge, Keiichi Tsuchiya, as one of the most technical drifting courses of all.30 The section, used in drifting events since 2002, is currently used to host a European Drift Championship round. The Course also hosts the Formula Student Competition by the iMeche yearly.
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