British Grand Prix

The first British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Northamptomshire was in 1948. Since then the British Grand Prix was held elsewhere 17 times.

In 1955 the British Grand Prix moved to Aintree. Stirling Moss, the first British Driver to win the British Grand Prix, won that year. The same grandstands were used for the race and for the famous Grand National.

The Circuits at Aintree and Silverstone took turns to host the Grand Prix between 1955 and 1961. However in 1962 Aintree managed to host the Grand Prix for a second year in succession. This upset the Motorsports Establishment, who preferred Silverstone.

Silverstone held the 1963 British Grand Prix

In 1964 Brands Hatch, Kent held the British Grand Prix for the first time. The Brands Hatch circuit was modified for the 1964 Grand Prix. Jim Clark won the British Grand Prix that year. Clark won the British Grand Prix twice more before his tragic death at Hockenheim.

Brands and Silverstone shared the British Grand Prix from 1964 to 1986. Brands hatch is a completely different circuit to Silverstone. Silverstone had the "odd" years (eg 1965) while Brands hatch had the evens (eg 1966). At Brands Hatch it was possible to see much of the track from the challenging Paddock corner, and this was where many of the spectators gathered.

Brands Hatch boss John Webb used Brands Hatch for the European Grand Prix in 1983 and 1985. Nigel Mansell had his first Grand Prix victory at Brands Hatch. The 1986 British Grand Prix was the last Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. In the 1986 race Jacques Laffite had a serious accident, which ended his career in Formula One.

The race has been back at Silverstone ever since. In 1991 the circuit was substantially rebuilt. Mansell won the 1991 race. He won again in 1992, on his way to the Drivers World Championship, and a record breaking nine wins in a season. After 1992 Nigel Mansell turned to Indy Cars. In 1993 the crowd watched Alain Prost win after teammate Damon Hill suffered an engine failure.

Indeed in 1993 British fans would have been more entertained if they had went to the European Grand Prix at Donington (Another UK circuit). They would have seen what is widely acknowledged to be the best wet weather race of all time. Ayrton Senna gained four Places on the first lap and won the race by over a minute from Damon Hill. Alain Prost, who would eventually win that years would championship, finished third and was lapped by Senna.

At the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, three accidents resulted in changes to many Grand Prix circuits including Silverstone. These events are as follows -

  • During the Friday Qualifying session Rubens Barrichello had a very lucky escape, when his Jordan crashed at the Final Chicane. Amazingly he wasn't injured.

  • The next day, Roland Ratzenburger hit a wall at just under 200mph in his Simtek. He didn't survive.
  • During the Race however Ayrton Senna Crashed at Tamburello. The Three Times World Champion, one of the most talented men ever to step into an F1 car had died.
  • The next race (Monaco) confirmed that changes were desperately needed. Karl Wendlinger crashed in his Sauber. He received a blow to the head and was in a coma for a month.
  • Following these dreadful events Silverstone (amongst other circuits) was modified for the 1994 British Grand Prix. The Abbey and Priory sections were modified.

    Silverstone's vacilities are currently being upgraded. The circuit will host the British Grand Prix for years to come, despite the best efforts of Donington Park's Management.

    Sources: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One ISBN 0-340-73887-1 My own knowledge

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