Silverstone Circuit

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Silverstone Circuit
"Home of British Motor Racing"[1]
Silverstone circuit.svg
Silverstone Circuit – 2011 Onwards
Location Silverstone, Northamptonshire (part) and Buckinghamshire (part), England, United Kingdom
Time zone GMT
Coordinates 52°4′43″N 1°1′1″W / 52.07861°N 1.01694°W / 52.07861; -1.01694Coordinates: 52°4′43″N 1°1′1″W / 52.07861°N 1.01694°W / 52.07861; -1.01694
FIA Grade 1
Major events FIA Formula One : British Grand Prix
FIM MotoGP : British Grand Prix
FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone
FIM Superbike World Championship
European Le Mans Series
European Formula Two Championship
FIA International Formula 3000
British Touring Car Championship
British F3 International Series
British GT
British Superbike Championship
Silverstone Classic
Arena Grand Prix Circuit (2011–present)
Length 5.891[2] km (3.660 mi)
Turns 18
Lap record 1:33.401 (Australia Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing, 2013, F1)
Arena Grand Prix Circuit (2010)[3]
Length 5.901 km (3.667 mi)
Turns 18
Lap record 1:30.874 (Spain Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2010, F1)
Bridge Grand Prix Circuit
Length 5.141 km (3.194 mi)
Turns 17
Lap record 1:18.739 (Germany Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004, F1)
International Circuit
Length 3.619 km (2.249 mi)
Turns 10
National Circuit
Length 2.638 km (1.639 mi)
Turns 6
Stowe Circuit
Length 1.281 km (0.796 mi)
Turns 5

Silverstone Circuit is a motor racing circuit in England 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.[4] 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. However, the Donington Park leaseholders suffered economic problems resulting in the BRDC signing a 17 year deal with Ecclestone to hold the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.[5]

The Circuit[edit]

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.[6]

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.

A lap in a Formula One car[edit]

After the new pit building, the Silverstone Wing, was completed in time for the 2011 race,[7] the start of the track was relocated to between Club corner and Abbey corner. Almost flat out, the right-hander of Abbey leads immediately into the left-hander of Farm before cars heavily brake into the second gear, right-handed turn 3; Village corner. The even slower left-hander of The Loop comes immediately after, and leads into the flat-out left-hander of Aintree, before cars head down the DRS zone of the Wellington Straight; designed in 2010 to promote overtaking at the track.[8] Turn 6, the left hander of Brooklands, is taken by drivers in second gear[9] and leads immediately into Luffield, another second gear curve; a right-hand hairpin.[9] The right-handed kink of Woodcote leads cars down the old pit straight, before the difficult sixth gear right-hander of Copse, with a minimum speed of 175mph in the dry for Formula One cars. Then, the equally tricky complex of Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel - a left-right-left-right-left complex with a minimum speed of 130mph[9]- lead cars down the Hangar Straight with the fifth gear right-hander of Stowe lurking at the end. The fifteenth turn of the track, Stowe, has a minimum speed of 125mph and precedes a short straight, named Vale, which leads cars downhill towards the Club complex. Heavy braking is required for the left-hander of turn 16, and understeer can be an issue for the next right-handers of turns 17 and 18, as cars tentatively accelerate round to the start-finish straight.[9]

History[edit]

Origins – 1940s[edit]

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.[10]

In 1948, Royal Automobile Club (RAC), under the chairmanship of Wilfred Andrews, set its mind upon running a Grand Prix and started to cast around public roads on the mainland. There was 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.[10]

A considerable number of ex-RAF airfields existed, and it was to these the RAC turned their attention to with particular interest being paid to two near the centre of England – Snitterfield 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 1930s had the title of ‘Donington Grand Prix’).[10]

In August 1948, Andrews employed James Brown on a three-month contact to create the Grand Prix circuit in less than two months.[11] Nearly 40 years later, Brown died virtually in harness.[10]

Despite possible concerns about the weather, the 1948 British Grand Prix began at Silverstone on Thursday 30 September 1948. The race took place on 2 October.[10] 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 spectators watched the race.[10]

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 72.28 mph. Fourth place went to Louis Rosier’s Talbot-Lago T26, followed home by ’Biba’ in an another Maserati 4CLT/48.[10][12]

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-war 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.[10][13]

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.[10][14][15]

1950s[edit]

The 1950 British Grand Prix was a significant occasion for two reasons: 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.[10][16]

The year was the institution of the World Championship for Driver, and Silverstone witnessed 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 90.96 mph; however the race distance had been reduced to 205 miles.[10][16]

1951 was memorable for it saw the defeat of the 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 was third. The race distance had increased to 263 miles, and the race average speed was now 96.11 mph.[10][16]

1951 also saw the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) take over the lease from the RAC, and set about making the circuit into something more permanent.[16]

The International Trophy attracted the cream of Formula One, including the invincible Alfas, driven by Fangio and Farina. However, the heavens opened for the final and visibility was almost nil, and in those conditions the Alfettas 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.[10]

In 1952, the RAC decided it no longer wished to run the circuit, and on 1 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. The original pits between Abbey and Woodcote was demolished, and new pit facilities were constructed between Woodcote and Copse. Coinciding with the BRDC taking over the running of the Grand Prix, there was a little unrest within the sport which led to the downgrading of Grand Prix racing to Formula Two, which was won by Alberto Ascari at 90.9 mph from his Ferrari team-mate Piero Taruffi – both driving the Tipo 500. The podium was completed by Mike Hawthorn driving a Cooper-Bristol T12.[10]

The International Trophy was notable in 1952, in that it saw an all-too-rare victory for Hersham and Walton Motors when Lance Macklin had a superb win.[10]

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 92.9 mph aboard 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 100 mph, at 100.16 mph.[10]

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 pole-man Fangio in his W196.[10]

From 1955, the Grand Prix was alternated between Aintree and Silverstone, until 1964 when Brands Hatch took over as venue alternative.[16]

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.[10]

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.[10]

For 1958 drastic rule changes were introduced into Formula One, Fangio had retired and Maserati had withdrawn due to financial difficulties. Throughout the season the battle 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.[10]

1960s[edit]

Piers Courage on his way to 5th place in the 1969 British Grand Prix, aboard Frank Williams Racing Cars’s Brabham-Cosworth BT26A

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, 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 led to Hill spinning off at Copse Corner.[10][17]

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.[10]

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.[10][17]

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.[10][17]

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.[10]

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 Northamptonshire. 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 aboard the Brabham-Repco, from the Ferrari 312 of his fellow countrymen Chris Amon.[10]

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.[10]

1970s[edit]

Niki Lauda taking the Ferrari 312T through Maggotts Copse during 1975 John Player Grand Prix, Silverstone

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.[10]

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.[10]

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).[10]

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 different. 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.[10]

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.[10]

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, being 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).[18]

The International Trophy attracted World Championship contenders for the last time in 1978 but the race witnessed the début 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.[10]

Jochen Mass (Martini Racing Porsche 935) during the 1976 Silverstone Six-Hours

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 114.914 mph.[10][19]

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 138.80 mph.[10]

The 1979 British Motorcycle Grand Prix was again held at Silverstone and would be one of the closest 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.[20]

1980s[edit]

John Watson’s 1981 British Grand Prix race winning McLaren, during the 2011 Silverstone Classic meeting

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 114.602 mph. 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.[10][21]

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 did Renault occupy the front row of the grid, but turbo-engined Ferraris 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 137.64 mph.[10]

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 128.5 mph, 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.[10][22]

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.[10]

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 become 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 practice René Arnoux put in a lap at over 150 mph in his Ferrari. In the race, the lap record was raised to over 140 mph by a relative newcomer from France, Alain Prost, who won the race in the Renault RE40 at an average speed of 139.218 mph, 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.[10][23]

The 1985 International Trophy (run 24 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.[10]

Six weeks later, the big sports cars returned for the Silverstone 1000 km. 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 works pairing of Ickx/Mass from their team-mates Bell and Hans Stuck but third was the Lancia-Martini of Patrese and Alessandro Nannini.

Keke Rosberg driving the Williams FW10 at the 1985 German Grand Prix. Rosberg lapped Silverstone at over 160mph, during qualifying for the 1985 British Grand Prix

The 1985 British Grand Prix saw Keke Rosberg set a qualifying lap at over 160 mph. Three others clocked an average lap speed of over 159 mph. The turbo era had reached its zenith. It’s worth remembering that Rosberg achieved that speed with a slow puncture. This was a peak in the history of Silverstone and while Prost put the new lap record up to 150.035 mph 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 146.246 mph from the Ferrari 156/85 of Alboreto and the Ligier JS25 of Laffite.[10][23]

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).[10]

In 1986, the Silverstone 1000 km 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 129.05 mph. 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.[10]

Someone had become rather more than a little concerned over the 160 mph 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 103.96 mph, the winner being Mauricio Gugelmin in a Ralt from Michel Trollé in a Lola and Roberto Moreno aboard another Ralt.[10]

Things went somewhat better for Jaguar in 1987 for they won the Silverstone 1000 km, their fourth successive win in 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 Jaguar averaging 123.42 mph.[10]

And so to the 1987 British Grand Prix, the event now firmly established at Silverstone. The first two placings were a repeat of the 1986 race at Brands Hatch, Mansell winning from his Williams-Honda team-mate Piquet at 146.208 mph 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 found 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 into Stowe Circuit. To a tumultuous reception, Mansell went on to win the race.[10][23]

1987 saw the inaugural World Touring Car Championship arrive at Silverstone. Luis Pérez-Sala had a meeting no one would believe; he led the race until the penultimate lap, with nearly one minute lead, but then his Bigazzi-entered BMW M3 retired. He wasn’t even sure that the car would start the race after Olivier Grouillard rolled the car in practice. However, the Munich marque still took victory when the CiBiEmme Sport’s M3 finished first, in the hands of Enzo Calderari and Fabio Mancini. The Schnitzer M3 of Roberto Ravaglia, Roland Ratzenberger and Pirro managed to finished second, ahead of the Alfa Romeo 75 Turbo of Giorgio Francia and Nicola Larini.[24]

The 1988 race was won at 124.142 mph, 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).[10][23]

The 1988 Silverstone 1000 km saw Cheever take a hat-trick of victories for Jaguar, this time partnered by Martin Brundle. The XJR9 won at 128.02 mph 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.[10]

April at Silverstone is not the warmest place to be but nonetheless 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 131.56 mph. Second by 0.5secs was Philippe Favre in a Lola T89/50 from Mark Blundell and Jean Alesi in Reynards.[10]

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 143.694 mph. Mansell brought the Ferrari 641 into second place from Nannini’s Benetton.

1990s[edit]

Nigel Mansell gives Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits on the side-pod of his Williams FW14

The weekend of 19/20 May 1990 was a busy one at Silverstone, 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.[10]

And so to July, and the British Grand Prix; once again it was over 190 miles and was won at 145.253 mph; Alain Prost was now driving for Ferrari and his victory from Thierry Boutsen in the Williams and Ayrton Senna’s McLaren.[10]

After the Grand Prix, it had already been decided to extensively redesign Silverstone's layout. Nearly every part of Silverstone (except Copse, Abbey and all of the straights, save the Farm Straight) was redesigned. The ultra-high speed Club and Stowe corners were made slower and a chicane was placed before Stowe. Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel were re-designed as very fast snaky esses that proved to be even more challenging than the original series of corners- the considerable amount of lateral g from side to side became the highlighted challenge of the new circuit. A new twisty infield section called Luffield was created in place of the Farm straight and the Bridge chicane. Despite these alterations, the Grand Prix and World Sportscar circuses both very much approved of the new layout; Silverstone was still fast, which is what it has always been known for.

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 between Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, with victory going to the Jaguar XJR14 of Teo Fabi and Derek Warwick at a speed of 122.048 mph. In second place, four laps behind, came the Mercedes C291 of Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger, followed by the singleton driver XJR14 of Brundle.[10]

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.[10]

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 two were run on the same day, 10 May. Although the practice was spoilt by hailstorm, the races were run in bright weather. The F3000 victor was Jordi Gené who completed the 37 laps at a speed of 121.145 mph 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.[10]

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 122.661 mph, two laps ahead of the Maurizio Sandro Sala/Johnny Herbert Mazda MXR-01 which was four laps ahead 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.[10]

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. Mansell dominated practice and the race, winning at 133.772 mph.[10]

Six days after competing at Donington Park, the F3000 guys were at Silverstone for the second round of the 1993 International F3000 Championship. Gil de Ferran won at 119.462 mph from David Coulthard and Michael Bartels – all were driving Cosworth powered Reynard 93Ds.[10]

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.[10][25]

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 125.609 mph from Jean Alesi in the Ferrari and Mika Häkkinen (McLaren).[10]

The 1994 F3000 race was an all Reynard 94D affair. The 38-lap race was won by Franck Lagorce winning at 119.512 mph, 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.[10]

Johnny Herbert winning the 1995 British Grand Prix, driving the Benetton-Renault B195

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 and was held shoulder high on the podium by the second and third-placed men, Coulthard and Alesi.[10]

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.[10]

At the Grand Prix on 14 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 later 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 124 mph, from Berger’s Benetton and the McLaren of Häkkinen.[10]

The 1997 Grand Prix was again won by Villeneuve at the wheel of a Williams-Renault at a speed of 128.443 mph from the Benettons of Alesi and Alexander Wurz.[10]

From the start of 1998, the FIA decreed that all Formula One grids 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 car 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 thought that he had won![10]

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 second in the McLaren and Eddie Irvine third in the second Ferrari.[10]

Victory in the 1999 British Grand Prix went to Coulthard at the wheel of a McLaren-Mercedes with an average speed of 124.256 mph from Irvine's Ferrari and the other Schumacher, Ralf.[10]

2000s[edit]

Fernando Alonso during the 2005 British Grand Prix in his Renault

For Silverstone’s first Grand Prix of the 21st Century, the FIA decreed that the race should be moved to April, and the event took place over Easter, with the GP itself run on Easter Sunday. In hindsight this was a poor decision by the FIA, who failed to take into account the unpredictable weather in Britain at this time of year. It rained almost continually for the best part of three weeks before the event and most of Good Friday; by Easter Saturday the car parks had virtually collapsed and were completely closed. Although most of the race day itself was fine, the damage was done and many thousands of spectators were unable to get to Silverstone to witness David Coulthard win his second straight victory in the event, from his McLaren team-mate Mika Häkkinen, with Michael Schumacher third for Ferrari.[10][26]

On 14 May, the FIA GT Championship came to Northants, in slightly more clement conditions and victory went to Julian Bailey and Jamie Campbell-Walter driving a Lister Storm GT from no fewer than four Chrysler Viper GTS-Rs.[10]

The 2000 Silverstone 500 USA Challenge was the first American Le Mans Series race to be held outside of North America. It served as a precursor to the creation of the European Le Mans Series by gauging the willingness of European teams from the FIA Sportscar Championship and FIA GT Championship to participate in a series identical to the American Le Mans Series. This event also shared the weekend at Silverstone with an FIA GT round, with some GT teams running both events. The race was won by the Schnitzer Motorsport’s BMW V12 LMP of Jörg Müller and JJ Lehto.[27]

Formula One returned for the 2001 British Grand Prix in July to see Häkkinen triumph having managing to overtake the driver in pole, Schumacher. Schumacher, driving for Ferrari finished second while team-mate Barrichello gained the final spot in the podium.[28]

The 2002 British Grand Prix saw Ferrari return to the top two steps of the podium with Schumacher beating Barrichello, while pole-sitter and Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya finished in third. These three drivers, as well as gaining the top three qualifying places, were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap.

Although the 2003 Grand Prix was won by pole-sitter Barrichello for Ferrari, the race is probably most remember for a track invasion by the defrocked priest, Neil Horan, who ran along Hanger Straight, head-on to the 175 mph train of cars, wearing a saffron kilt and waving religious banners. Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren) was pressured by Barrichello into losing the lead and an unforced error later on allowed Montoya to seize second.[29]

Neil Hodgson had a brilliant World Superbike meeting in 2003. The Fila Ducati rider withstood the attention of James Toseland in the first race and then fellow Ducati pilot, Gregorio Lavilla in the second, just 0.493secs ahead of the Spaniard. Ruben Xaus claimed two third place finishes.[30]

Schumacher celebrated his 80th Grand Prix victory of his career at the 2004 event after taking the lead from Räikkönen during the first round of pit stops. Ferrari’s strategy won the day with Schumacher's two stops to Räikkönen’s three. Barrichello completed the podium in third, and coming home in fourth was BAR’s Jenson Button.[31]

A crowd of 68,000 saw Renegade Ducati’s Noriyuki Haga and Ten Kate Honda’s Chris Vermeulen take a win each in the 2004 World Superbike event. Haga pulled off a close finish in race one, just beating Vermeulen. In race two, the roles were reversed with the Honda beating the Ducati.[32]

When the Le Mans Prototypes returned in 2004, they raced for the Le Mans Series over a distance of 1000 km. It was a straight battle between the pair of Audi R8’s of Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx and Team Goh’s singleton R8, with victory going to the Veloqx pair of Allan McNish and Pierre Kaffer. In second place, one lap behind was Rinaldo Capello and Seiji Ara for Team Goh, followed by the all English pair of Johnny Herbert and Jamie Davies for Veloqx.[33]

A crowd of 27,000 welcomed back the World Touring Car Championship. The Alfa Romeo drivers dominated the first race, on a sunny 15 May 2005. Gabriele Tarquini scored a lights to flag victory, leading home an Alfa quartet. Behind the Italian, a tough fight for second between James Thompson and Fabrizio Giovanardi, with a number of overtaking and paint swapping moves, also involving the BMW 320i of Andy Priaulx. Augusto Farfus completed the quartet, with Priaulx dropping back to fifth.[34] After a superb start, Priaulx led most of race two, until side-lined with a puncture. This enabled the SEAT duo of Rickard Rydell and Jason Plato to take the win for the Spanish manufacturer, with Tarquini in third.[35]

Ducati took both legs of the 2005 World Superbike double-header. Regis Laconi scored the first win and Toseland doubled Ducati’s pleasure. Laconi beat Troy Corser to the finishing line by 0.096secs. Toseland claimed third on the podium. Toseland turn came to Race 2, when he passed Croser and Haga.[36]

Fernando Alonso and Montoya fought a cat-and-mouse battle for the victory in the 2005 British Grand Prix, with the deciding factor being the back-markers. In a straight line the McLaren of Montoya was probably quicker than Alonso’s Renault, but in the heat of battle, with different strategies going and different computer projections, Montoya came through to win the race from Alonso, with Räikkönen driving for McLaren in third.[37]

In the 2005 Le Mans Series race, Team ORECA Audi R8 scored a prestigious victory, with McNish, this time paired with Stéphane Ortelli, winning after a thrilling race-long battle with the Creation Autosportif’s DBA 03S of Nicolas Minassian and Campbell-Walter, a car that provided much of the season’s excitement.[33]

Alonso would see the chequered flag first as he wins again at Silverstone in 2006. In doing so, the Spaniard became the youngest driver to get the hat-trick (pole position, winning and fastest lap). Alonso won by nearly 14 seconds from Schumacher and Räikkönen took third again.[38]

Troy Bayliss gained a pair of wins in the 2006 World Superbike, aboard his Xerox Ducati. Haga (Yamaha) and Toseland (Honda) joined Bayliss on the podium in both races.[39]

Kimi Räikkönen piloting his Ferrari to victory in the 2007 British Grand Prix

Following Hamilton’s victory in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, Silverstone reported that ticket sales had "gone through the roof"; circuit director Ian Phillips added, "we haven’t seen this level of interest since Mansell-mania in the late 80s and early 90s". Hamilton did not disappoint on the Saturday and qualified his McLaren on pole. However, race day saw Räikkönen move ahead during the first round of pit stops. The other McLaren driver, Alonso, also finished ahead in second.[40][41]

Bayliss (Ducati) took the chequered flag in a solitary 2011 World Superbike race, with a heavy downpour causing the first race to be run in the wet, with Race 2 cancelled altogether. Naga and Corser completed the podium line-up.[42]

After a one year hiatus, the Le Mans Series returned to Silverstone. At the head of the field, the Team Peugeot 908 HDi’s lead was unchallenged and Minassian achieved his goal to do one better, partnered by Marc Gené. Emmanuel Collard/Jean-Christophe Boullion finished two laps down in second. Third place on the podium was for the Rollcentre Pescarolo, piloted by Stuart Hall and Joao Barbosa.[43]

Hamilton made amends in the 2008 British Grand Prix, when he crossed the line to win by 68secs, from Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber). The margin of victory was the largest in Formula One since 1995. Once again, Barrichello finished on the podium, this time in a Honda.[44]

Allan McNish driving the Audi R10 during the 2008 Le Mans Series race

A spirited drive from the 2008 Le Mans winners Rinaldo Capello and McNish saw their Audi R10 TDI progress through the field after a trip in the gravel early in the race, all the way up to second behind their sister car. When the leading Audi came in for an unplanned pit stop and was pulled into the pit for some rear suspension repairs, this handed the lead to McNish and Capello, who took a well deserved win. The Charouz Lola-Aston Martin B08/60 was second, driven by Jan Charouz and Stefan Mücke. The Pescarolo of Romain Dumas and Boullion got a well deserved podium finish.[45]

The 2009 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was due to be the last in Northamptonshire, as the event was moving to Donington Park from the 2010 season. The race was won by Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing, 15.1secs ahead of his team-mate Mark Webber. A further 25.9secs behind was that regular visitor to the podium, Barrichello, in his Brawn. However, due to Donington Park funding issues, the Grand Prix would remain at Silverstone until at least 2027.[46]

The 2009 1000 km of Silverstone saw Oreca take the chequered flag with the aid of their drivers Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lapierre. The next three cars home were also on the lead lap after 195 laps of racing, with second place going to Speedy Racing’s Lola-Aston Martin B08/60 of Marcel Fässler, Andrea Belicchi and Nicolas Prost. The newer Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 of Aston Martin Racing took the next two places, with the partnership of Tomáš Enge, Charouz and Mücke claiming the final step on the podium.[47]

2010s[edit]

Fernando Alonso's Ferrari F150 Italia in the pit lane, in the Formula One 2011 British Grand Prix

Mark Webber (Red Bull) claimed the silverware in the 2010 British Grand Prix, just over a second ahead of McLaren’s Hamilton. Nico Rosberg claimed third place for Mercedes team.[48]

The FIM World Superbike Championship round at Silverstone in 2010 will go down in history as being totally dominated by British riders. In both race, the top step was the property of Yamaha Sterilgarda’s Cal Crutchlow. Also, second in both races was Jonathan Rea. Alstare Suzuki’s Leon Haslam and Aprilla’s Leon Camier made appearances in the top three, giving Britain a complete podium sweep of the event.[49]

Cal Crutchlow on his way to a double win, in the 2010 World Superbike event

The 2010 British motorcycle Grand Prix returned to Silverstone for the first time since 1986, although the category had evolved into MotoGP. Jorge Lorenzo dominated the event for Fiat Yamaha, finishing nearly seven seconds clear of a battle for second place. Andrea Dovizioso winning the battle for second for Repsol Honda, with the Tech 3 Yamaha of Ben Spies third, after passing fellow American Nicky Hayden on the last lap.[50]

The victory for Anthony Davidson and Minassian for Peugeot in the 2010 1000 km of Silverstone was but a small consolation for the disastrous Le Mans race but did wipe away the bad memories of Silverstone in 2008. The second place was enough for the Oreca team to be crowned as the 2010 champions, who were using a Peugeot instead their own race winning chassis from the 2009 event. This time Lapierre was co-driven by Stéphane Sarrazin. Audi were third with the R15 TDI of Capello and Timo Bernhard.[51]

The 2011 British Grand Prix was Alonso's return to the top step for Ferrari – sixteen seconds ahead of the Red Bull pairing of Vettel and Webber.[52]

The Althea Racing Ducati of Carlos Checa robbed Yamaha’s Eugene Laverty from taking victory in both races of the 2011 World Superbike meeting, with Laverty’s team-mate Marco Melandri finishing on the podium, again in both races.[53]

The MotoGP guys returned in June 2011 only to find conditions less than ideal, but the rain didn’t stop the Repsol Hondas totally dominating the race with pole-man Casey Stoner beating his team-mate Dovizioso by more than 15sec. The Tech 3 Yamaha of Colin Edwards completed the podium.[54]

The 2011 6 Hours of Silverstone, witnessed a nose-to-tail fight between the Audi R18 of Bernhard and Fässler and the Peugeot 908 of Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud, but was temporarily finished after a spin by Bernhard. A conservative drive from Pagenaud saw Fässler close the gap right down again and in fact jump into the lead. Pagenaud picked up the pace and the two cars were on each other's tails until the end of the fourth hour when damaged rear bodywork needed replacing on the Audi. This gave the Peugeot a one-minute advantage that it did not give up. Third was the OAK Racing’s Pescarolo 01 piloted by Olivier Pla and Alexandre Prémat.[55]

The F1 cars returned in Silverstone on 8 July 2012, for the Grand Prix. The race was won for the second time by Webber, with pole-sitter Alonso second for Ferrari, finishing 3secs behind. Red Bull Racing and Webber’s team-mate Vettel rounded off the podium.[56]

Silverstone is often the site of unpredictable weather, the 2012 World Superbike event proved to be no exception. Due to fluctuating weather, the riders were greeted with a track in-between wet and dry for Race 1. Kawasaki Racing’s Loris Baz posted an astonishing finish to win from the BMW’s of Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini. Baz then took second behind PATA Racing’s Ducati, piloted by Sylvain Guintoli in a shortened Race2. Jakub Smrz took third, as nine riders went down before the official called an early end after eight laps.[57]

The 2012 British MotoGP went the way of the Yamaha factory rider, Lorenzo. He crossed the line 3.313secs ahead of the Respol Honda of Stoner, with Dani Pedrosa third on the other Honda.[58]

The 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours winners Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Fässler steered their Audi R18 e-tron Quattro hybrid car to victory in the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 26 August 2012. The win, added to third place for the sister car of Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, enabled Audi to get both their cars to finish on the podium. Audi didn’t have everything its own way though as the Toyota TS030 hybrid of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre challenged hard, leading early on, to finish a richly deserved second.[59]

Toyota TS030 Hybrid on its way to the third place in the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship race

The opening round of the 2013 World Endurance Championship saw Audi Sport Team Joest dominating. The race soon developed into a pattern of 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattros followed by 2 Toyota TS030 Hybrids and backed up by 2 Rebellion Lola B12/60s. Audis had a better early stage of the race when Toyota tyres did not work well and by the middle of the race they were securely leading the race by one lap. Toyota also did not manage to go through a middle race rain shower so well as Audi did. Despite that, the race was still very interesting until the end, when McNish was behind Tréluyer by more than 20 seconds with some 15 laps to go. But McNish (partnered by Kristensen and Loïc Duval), and motivated to win the RAC Tourist Trophy award for the race, very quickly ate the gap and finally manage to overtake Tréluyer (supported by Lotterer and Fässler) some two laps before the finish. The podium was completed the Toyota of Davidson/Sarrazin/Sébastien Buemi.[60]

Mercedes' Rosberg held off Red Bull's Webber to win a dramatic 2013 British Grand Prix overshadowed by a series of Pirelli tyre failures. In a race featuring two safety car interventions and tyre failures on five cars (four of which blew the rear-right tyre), Ferrari's Alonso fought up to third from ninth on the gird. Rosberg's team mate, pole-man Hamilton, dropped to last with tyre failure, but fought back to fourth ahead of Lotus' Räikkönen.[61]

Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea took advantage of the fluctuating weather conditions to take the lead mid-distance during the 2013 World Superbike Race 1, which he held until the end. Aprilia Racing's Eugene Laverty followed home for second place, with Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier third. Race 2 started dry and deteriorated to treacherously damp by mid-race. This saw Baz prevailing, replicating his victory from 2012, in similar conditions, after a spirited battle. Jules Cluzel took his Crescent Suzuki up to second place, followed home by Laverty in third.[62]

Reigning World MotoGP Champion, Lorenzo, ended Marc Márquez's four-race winning streak to take victory in the 2013 British MotoGP after a classic last lap. Yamaha factory-rider, Lorenzo swapped the lead three times with Márquez through the last few corners, but Lorenzo managed to make the crucial pass and win. Márquez's Repsol Honda team-mate, Pedrosa finished third, while Crutchlow was seventh. Meanwhile, in the supporting Moto2 race, Scott Redding took the spoils, much to the delight of the Silverstone crowd. [63][64]

Easter Sunday 2014, saw the return of Porsche to top-level sportscar racing in the World Endurance Championship event. However, it was Toyota who stole the show with a dominant one-two. The Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre took victory by a clear lap over their team-mates, Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stéphane Sarrazin, at the end of a race that was red-flagged before its scheduled finish courtesy of heavy rain. Porsche claimed a podium on its return with the 919 Hybrid. The partnership of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took third, finishing two laps down on the winner and one down on the second-placed Toyota. [65]

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton delighted the 120,000 Formula One fans by winning the 2014 British Grand Prix. Hamilton was catching his team-mate and championship rival, Nico Rosberg at the half-way stage of the race when Rosberg suffered a gearbox failure and forced to race, with Williams's Valtteri Bottas coming from 14th on the grid to finish second. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo took third. The race had to be red flagged following a high speed crash on the opening lap for Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen. [66]

The reigning world champion Marc Márquez won a thrilling Hertz British MotoGP to make it 11 wins in 12 starts. The Honda rider, overtook last year's winner Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha with three laps to go to cross the line 0.732 seconds in front. The second works-Yamaha of Valentino Rossi completed the podium, after fending off Honda's Dani Pedrosa. [67]

In 2014 Silverstone hosts the following major race championships:

Other competitions[edit]

Formation lap around Brooklands corner at the 2010 Superleague Formula round

Silverstone also hosts many club racing series and the world's largest historic 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 run between 2005 and 2012.

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.[68] 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.

In 2010 Silverstone hosted its very first Superleague Formula event.[69]

Records[edit]

Fernando Alonso's lap of 1:30.874 in the 2010 British Grand Prix is the outright lap record for the current Grand Prix configuration, which has only been in existence since 2010. For details of this and previous configurations, see Circuit Developments.

Official lap records are set in a race, although qualifying laps are often faster.

Layout used for Fastest Qualifying Lap Fastest Race Lap
1948 1948 British Grand Prix
Monaco Louis Chiron
Talbot-Lago
2:51.0
77.263 mph
1948 British Grand Prix
Italy Luigi Villoresi
Ferrari
2:52.0
76.814 mph
1949 to 1951 1951 British Grand Prix
Argentina José Froilán González
Ferrari
1:43.4
100.549 mph
1951 British Grand Prix
Italy Guiseppe Farina
Ferrari
1:44.0
99.969 mph
1952 to 1974 1973 British Grand Prix
Sweden Ronnie Peterson
Lotus-Cosworth
1:16.3
138.904 mph
1973 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom James Hunt
March-Cosworth
1:18.6
134.839 mph
1975 to 1986 1985 British Grand Prix
Finland Keke Rosberg
Williams-Honda
1:05.591
160.924 mph
1985 British Grand Prix
France Alain Prost
McLaren-TAG
1:09.886
151.034 mph
1987 to 1990 1987 British Grand Prix
Brazil Nelson Piquet
Williams-Honda
1:07.110
159.266 mph
1987 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell
Williams-Honda
1:09.832
153.058 mph
1991 to 1993 1992 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Nigel Mansell
Williams-Renault
1:18.965
148.622 mph
1993 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Damon Hill
Williams-Renault
1:22.515
142.228 mph
1994 and 1995 1994 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Damon Hill
Williams-Renault
1:24.960
133.898 mph
1994 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Damon Hill
Williams-Renault
1:27.100
130.608 mph
1996 1996 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Damon Hill
Williams-Renault
1:26.875
130.615 mph
1996 British Grand Prix
Canada Jacques Villeneuve
Williams-Renault
1:29.288
127.085 mph
1997 to 1999 1997 British Grand Prix
Canada Jacques Villeneuve
Williams-Renault
1:21.598
140.915 mph
1997 British Grand Prix
Germany Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
1:24.475
136.116 mph
2000 to 2009 2004 British Grand Prix
Finland Kimi Räikkönen
McLaren-Mercedes
1:18.233
139.827 mph
2004 British Grand Prix
Germany Michael Schumacher
Ferrari
1:18.739
136.116 mph
2010 to date 2013 British Grand Prix
United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
1:29.607
147.310 mph
2010 British Grand Prix
Spain Fernando Alonso
Ferrari
1:30.874
145.269 mph

[70]

Major race results[edit]

Further information, see Silverstone race results

Further reading[edit]

  • Chas Parker. Silverstone: The Home of British Motor Racing (2013). J H Haynes & Co Ltd. ISBN 978-0857330727.
  • Anthony Meredith & Gordon Blackwell. "Silverstone Circuit Through Time" (2013). Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1445606361
  • Bryan Apps. "Silvestone Shadows: Close to the Action in the 80s & 90s" (2010). Halsgrove. ISBN 978-0857040626

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External links[edit]