Ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, we reflect on the greatest Formula 1 moments at Silverstone.
1951: Alfa Romeo finally defeated
Silverstone hosted the inaugural Formula 1 event on May 13th 1950 and a season later every race – barring the Indianapolis 500 – had been won by Alfa Romeo. In 1951 it was José Froilán González who emerged victorious to break Alfa’s stranglehold on the series and record Ferrari’s first ever win in Formula 1. 60 years later, Fernando Alonso demonstrated González’s victorious Ferrari 375 F1 around four laps of Silverstone and later won the 2011 event. González won only once more in the sport, three years later at Silverstone, and died aged 90 earlier this month.
1969: Stewart secures home win
Between 1964 and 1986, Silverstone and Brands Hatch shared hosting responsibilities for the British Grand Prix. In 1969 it was Silverstone’s turn and the crowd witnessed a titanic scrap between Sir Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt. Polesitter Rindt eventually had to pit to repair damage, allowing Stewart to escape and win the race by an entire lap. It was Stewart’s fifth win in six races on his way to a first world championship.
1973: Scheckter causes chaos at the start
At the end of the opening lap, Jody Scheckter spun out of fourth place and triggered an accident which saw 11 cars eliminated from the race. There were no fatalities, but the race was red flagged and Andrea de Adamich suffered career ending injuries. It was one of Formula 1’s largest ever accidents and an angry Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wanted to punish the rash Scheckter. McLaren reacted by withdrawing Schekter from the next four races.
1979: Williams finally make it
The ground effect Williams FW07 was strong at Silverstone as the team dominated at their home event. Alan Jones took pole position but it was team-mate Clay Regazzoni who romped home to secure Williams’s first ever Grand Prix success. It was Regazzoni’s final Formula 1 victory, but one that paved the way for Williams to emerge as a force to be reckoned with in the sport.
The Willians FW11B was dominant around Silverstone but it was Nelson Piquet who beat Nigel Mansell to pole position by just seven hundredths of a second. At the mid-point of the race Mansell was suffering with vibrations and elected to pit for a fresh set of tyres. Piquet stayed out and subsequently held an advantage of half a minute. Mansell hunted down Piquet and pulled off a famous move into Stowe, selling his team-mate a dummy before steaming up the inside.
1995: Hill/Schumacher shunt hands it to Herbert
Title protagonists Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher were on alternate strategies, with Hill planning to stop twice compared to reigning champion Schumacher’s sole stop. Hill had emerged from his second stop behind Schumacher and the two collided when Hill tried to take the lead. Schumacher called the move ‘stupid’ and it was his team-mate, Johnny Herbert, who secured his first ever Formula 1 victory.
1998: Schumacher’s controversial penalty
Heavy rain had allowed Mika Hakkinen to build up a lead of almost a minute. The Finn spun in deteriorating conditions but it was the deployment of the safety car that wiped out his advantage. Hakkinen erred once more, elevating Schumacher to the front. However, the German was given a stop and go penalty two laps from the finish for overtaking under the safety car. He took to the pit lane on the final lap but crossed the line before reaching his pit box and won the race. McLaren appealed but a lack of clarity from the stewards meant the result stood.
1999: Schumacher’s bad break
The race was stopped due to Jacques Villeneuve and Alex Zanardi stalling on the grid. Schumacher was unaware of this development and continued racing. Approaching Stowe, his brakes failed and he ploughed into the tyre barriers. He sustained a broken leg in the accident, ending his title aspirations for another year. Hakkinen led the race early on but lost his left rear wheel and was forced to retire. Team-mate David Coulthard won the race.
2003: Barrichello wins after madness
Priest Neil Horan invaded the track on Lap 11, running towards the cars on the Hangar Straight and carrying religious banners. A marshal tackled him to the ground and was later given an award for bravery. Horan was sentenced to two months in prison. The race was also memorable for Schumacher edging a young Fernando Alonso onto the grass during the early stages but it was Rubens Barrichello who won the race after pressuring Kimi Raikkonen into an error.
2008: Hamilton masters wet conditions
Lewis Hamilton arrived at Silverstone under pressure after a series of errors but when the area was battered by wet weather, the Brit rose to the occasion and won by over a minute. He dispensed with pole sitter and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen early on and was rarely troubled, despite a minor error when conditions worsened. Nick Heidfeld and Barrichello joined him on the podium but it was a dismal day for Felipe Massa as he spun five times.
The 2012 running of the British Grand Prix wasn’t a classic, but it was nonetheless a tense duel between Alonso and Mark Webber. The winners of the previous two editions opted for alternate strategies and it was the latter’s which paid dividends as Webber snatched the lead with seven laps remaining. World champion Sebastian Vettel, winner in 2009, had a lonely race to third place. British drivers endured a trying event as Hamilton and Jenson Button struggled with an uncompetitive McLaren while Paul di Resta retired after early contact.