Silverstone at 50: Celebrating British Success

Next week Silverstone Circuit will host its 50th Formula 1 Grand Prix race, and with this season shaping up to be both intense and interesting, the race on British soil is set to be an exciting one

Next week Silverstone Circuit will host its 50th Formula 1 Grand Prix race, and with this season shaping up to be both intense and interesting, the race on British soil is set to be an exciting one. As the circuit reaches this milestone, we take a look at how the 2014 cars will perform on the illustrious circuit, and some of the most memorable moments over the past 50 races.

“I always love coming back to Silverstone; you can sense the history and atmosphere every time you walk through the gates,” said Johnny Herbert, 1995 winner at Silverstone. And there’s no denying there is history infused into the very asphalt of the track.

Home of British Motorsport

It was built on a World War II Airfield, roughly in the middle of England and the central position made it the perfect spot to bring motor racing back to Britain. And that’s exactly what it did, as the circuit hosted the first ever Formula 1 World Championship race back in 1950.

The race lasts for 52 laps, each covering a distance of 3.66 miles. The tight fast corners and slower technical sections come together to create one of the most challenging tracks on the calendar, which should put each driver through their paces.

Across the 18 turns on the circuit, it’ll take a significant amount of adaptation from the drivers this year.  The new cars have less downforce, imposing a shift in gears for many teams and making Silverstone feel like a completely new track.

A Circuit of Memories

Silverstone has seen a plethora of memorable moments, some great and others less pleasant. There was Senna hitching a ride with Mansell back in 1991 when he ran out of petrol at the end of the race, shooing off a marshal as he hopped aboard the Williams, tapping Mansell on the head as they sped off to the finish line. Given the tensions between the two drivers, this light-hearted act showed that it’s not all business and politics in the sport.

Then there were 2003’s antics where an optimistic assailant frolicked onto the Hangar straight mid race, almost colliding with a handful of cars before being tackled to the ground. He got away serving only 2 months in prison for his act – a small price to pay considering he almost got himself killed by Mark Webber’s Jaguar.

Undoubtedly there’s also no forgetting the infamous crash of 1973 that lead to the end of Andrea De Adamich’s short-lived racing career. Jody Scheckter spun out in the middle of the track, causing chaos behind him and forcing nine drivers to retire; it was an unfortunate crash that luckily took no lives, but did however end a career.

Most importantly though, there’s the success that many experienced there. Iconic drivers such as Alain Prost, Emerson Fittipaldi, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have all won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, sometimes more than once. Impressively, current driver Fernando Alonso has also won the race twice and currently holds the lap record with a time of 1:30:874.

Celebrating Greatness

Since 1948, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone has been won 16 times by a British driver. In fact, British drivers have gone on to win their home race more than any other nationality, some of the most successful being Jackie Stewart,  Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell and David Coulthard. 

To commemorate 50 years of greatness, the track is hosting parades across the weekend where classic celebrated cars will be driven by the very best names in Formula 1. A unique sight any spectator would be lucky to witness and a true celebration of the past victories at Silverstone.

It’s been a while now since we had a British winner at Silverstone. Lewis Hamilton won back in 2008 and last year completed the fastest qualifying lap putting him on pole. Will he be victorious this year? Or will 2013’s winner Nico Rosberg snatch the victory away from his teammate?

“I’m really looking forward to a good race at Silverstone between the two, and I am sure Lewis will be at the highest level he can find,” said Non-Executive Chairman at Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, Niki Lauda.

Set to be an exciting race that will once again provide a battle between the two dominant drivers, Hamilton will hopefully bring us our first home victory in 6 years. 

What do you think? Have you say in the comments section below.