Memorable F1 moments at Silverstone

From the very first World Championship race to home race heroes and maiden wins, here are some of the most memorable F1 moments which have taken place at Silverstone!

1950: The first F1 race

Silverstone is the birthplace of Formula 1, having hosted the very first World Championship event in 1950. The 1950 British Grand Prix attracted over 100,000 fans, who came to watch motorsport’s finest teams and drivers battle it out for victory. While half of the grid was made up of Italian manufacturers, a notable absence was that of Ferrari, due to a payment dispute.

Alfa Romeo cars filled the first four spaces on the grid, and polesitter Giuseppe Farina dominated proceedings. The Alfa Romeos locked out the podium positions, with Luigi Fagioli second and British driver Reg Parnell third. Juan Manuel Fangio had led at one point, but retired with mechanical issues. The 1950 British Grand Prix may not have been the most exciting race of its era, but it was certainly one of the most significant.

1987: Mansell does the switchback

Nigel Mansell pulled off one of the greatest overtakes in Formula 1 at the 1987 British Grand Prix. His Williams team-mate Nelson Piquet had taken pole position for the race and led the first 62 laps of the 65 lap race. But after his final pit stop, Mansell was closing significantly on Piquet. By the closing stages, the British driver was right on the tail of his team-mate. On Lap 63, on the run into Stowe corner, Mansell went one way and then the other, masterfully passing Piquet on the inside.

1991: Taxi for Senna

Mansell won at Silverstone again in 1991, but the race was perhaps best remembered for the scenes after the Grand Prix had finished. Ayrton Senna, who was leading the Drivers’ Championship and running in second place in the race, ran out of fuel on the final lap. It left his McLaren car stranded at the side of the circuit.

While Mansell celebrated victory in front of the delighted crowd, he spotted the stricken Senna at the side of the road and pulled over to give him a lift back to the pits. The images of Senna sitting on the side of Mansell’s Williams on the lap back to the pits are some of the most enduring in F1 history.

1992: Crowd invasion

Silverstone was a favourite circuit of Nigel Mansell’s. He often claimed that the home crowd gave him extra strength, and that he gained a few extra tenths from the cheering fans. In 1992, so called “Mansell Mania” was in full swing by the time the championship reached Silverstone, where Mansell claimed his fourth and final British Grand Prix victory. It was the seventh win in his championship-winning year.

Image: Steve Gregory, CC BY-SA 3.0

“They love him and he loves them” is what Murray Walker declared as the Brit crossed the line and the crowd began to invade the circuit. Mansell was delayed getting to the podium celebrations due to the invasion by the fans, who crowded his Williams in their hundreds.

1995: Herbert wins as championship rivals collide

There was jubilation for Johnny Herbert at Silverstone in 1995, as he claimed his first Grand Prix victory in front of his home crowd. Damon Hill started from pole position and, like many races in the mid 1990s, the Grand Prix became a duel between Hill and Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher was ahead after the pit stops, and Hill attempted an overtake – but it went very wrong. Both the Williams driver and the Benetton driver were eliminated from the race. That left Schumacher’s team-mate Herbert at the front of proceedings, and he’d go on to win the race by over sixteen seconds. Herbert remains the last driver to take his maiden Grand Prix win on home soil.

2008: Hamilton wins in the wet

Lewis Hamilton stormed to victory on a rainy day at Silverstone in 2008. The 2008 British Grand Prix began in damp conditions, with Hamilton lining up fourth on the grid. On the run to Turn 1, the McLaren driver was in a position to challenge his team-mate for the lead. Hamilton had to wait for another opportunity to pass, but he did so on Lap 5.

Image: ligreq, CC BY 2.0

There wasn’t much for Hamilton to do from there, other than keep the car on the track; a mission which others on the grid proved was a difficult task. As the rain poured, Hamilton won the race by over a minute, with Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello the only other drivers who finished on the lead lap. The 2008 British Grand Prix is praised as one of Hamilton’s greatest victories.

2010: Not bad for a number two

Image: First Stop, CC BY 2.0

Mark Webber was left fuming after qualifying for the 2010 British Grand Prix. Red Bull brought a new front wing to Silverstone and each car was fitted with the new part for the weekend. However, Sebastian Vettel’s new wing failed in Free Practice 3, and Red Bull took the controversial decision to remove Webber’s new-spec wing and give it to Vettel. The German took pole position and Webber, who qualified second, made his feelings clear in the press conference.

Image: Ben Sutherland, CC BY 2.0

Come race day, Vettel suffered a puncture at the start of the Grand Prix, and Webber stormed into the lead. Webber led the race from start to finish, while Vettel finished the race in seventh. Taking to team radio as he crossed the line, Webber memorably declared on the radio: “not bad for a number two driver”.

2020: Hamilton wins on three wheels

Lewis Hamilton took a record-breaking seventh home win in 2020 – and the race ended just in time for the Mercedes driver. Hamilton started the race from pole and didn’t relinquish the lead at any point in the afternoon.

While Mercedes opted for a one stop strategy, Max Verstappen pitted twice in the afternoon, making his second stop as a precaution following a tyre failure for Valtteri Bottas with just three laps of the race remaining. Then, on the final lap, Hamilton’s tyre also failed and he was forced to crawl around the circuit to clinch his 87th F1 win. Verstappen was too far away to take advantage – setting the Fastest Lap, he finished six seconds behind the stricken Mercedes.

The 2021 British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone on July 16-18.

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