Silverstone: The Ultimate Track Guide

Silverstone: The Ultimate Track Guide

Other circuits have all played their part in British motorsport history but none more so than Silverstone, the home of British Motor Racing. The much-loved track delivers high excitement year on year to a passionate and knowledgeable crowd.


FIRST F1 RACE 1950
TRACK LENGTH 3.659 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 42
NUMBER OF TURNS 18
MOST POLES Lewis Hamilton (6)
MOST WINS Alain Prost, Lewis Hamilton (5)

TRACK MAP


A SHORT HISTORY OF SILVERSTONE

Silverstone’s story begins in 1943. RAF Silverstone was built at a cost of over £1 million, with 5 hangars and three intersecting runways. The area of land is situated in the village of Silverstone, near Towcester, and straddles two counties – Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. The runways were surrounded by a 3 mile perimeter track which would later serve as part of the race track. The base operated for two years as a training establishment during World War II and was home to a range of Halifax, Lancaster and Wellington bombers. It fell into inactivity in 1946.

Despite the hard times faced by Britons post-war, enthusiasm among certain groups for motorsport didn’t die. There was, however, no major race track in Britain. Brooklands had been handed over to the war’s aviation, as had Donington Park which now acted as a dumping ground for military vehicles. It was in 1947 that the first race was held at the former RAF aerodrome. The first attempt didn’t go entirely to plan, however. An impromptu race meeting had to be abandoned as sheep invaded the track in what became known as the ‘Mutton Grand Prix’. Maurice Geoghegan ran over a sheep which was killed upon impact and the car was written off.

Silverstone’s central location was seen as an ideal location for international motor racing. In 1948, Silverstone held its first official Grand Prix – the RAC International Grand Prix. James Wilson Brown, a farmer, was employed by the RAC and in August 1948 he was given two months to transform the airfield into a fully-fledged race track. 100,000 fans witnessed Silverstone’s inaugural offering, as crops and piggery were bundled into the centre of the circuit and shielded by hay bales. As would become the custom at Silverstone, traffic jams plagued the weekend as fans made their way to the circuit. Luigi Villoresi was the victor of this race. The 1949 race at Silverstone was the first to be titled the ‘British Grand Prix’. It was run on a different track configuration, which was the full three mile perimeter road of the former airfield. It promoted flat out, high speed racing and can perhaps be considered as the birthplace of modern motorsport. It was run over 300 miles, with Toulo de Graffenreid taking the win after 100 laps.

1950 saw the first ever Formula One Grand Prix held at the circuit and thus started a magnificent motor sport history. It was titled the ‘Grand Prix de Europe’ and was attended by the British Royal Family, along with 100,000 spectators. More changes were made to the track by the organisers for the next season’s event, including moving the pit area.

The British Grand Prix hasn’t always been held at Silverstone. It moved around the country in its early years with Brooklands and Aintree alternating with Silverstone from 1955 until 1964, when Brands Hatch took over as Sivlerstone’s alternate host.

In 1975, a chicane was added at Woodcote as a result of a huge accident at the corner in 1973, which eliminated eleven cars from the race. In 1987, with the ever rising speeds of modern machinery, a further chicane was added on the straight between Abbey and Woodcote, named Luffield. 1990 and 1991 saw major renovations to the track, including the addition of the Bridge, Priory and Brooklands corners. The iconic Becketts esses were also added to the track at this time. A few more changes followed as a result of F1’s pursuit of safety after the tragic events of the 1994 season, and a chicane was added at Abbey.

Silverstone has been the permanent home of the British Grand Prix since 1987. The 2009 British Grand Prix looked set to be the last at Silverstone after a controversial deal to make Donington the new home of the British Grand Prix from 2010 was signed. The deal was later scrapped, and Silverstone signed a long contract to host the race until 2026. As a result, the track was upgraded and a new pit complex, known as the Silverstone Wing, was built. The track was changed once again to feature a new infield section, with the pits having moved to the straight between the Club and Abbey corners.

The future of the British Grand Prix is currently in doubt, with Silverstone unable to cover the increasing costs of hosting the event. The current contract ends in 2019. If the British Grand Prix were to disappear from the calendar, it would be greatly missed.


🇬🇧 DID YOU KNOW?

Cornelius Horan, a priest, interrupted the 2003 Grand Prix at Silverstone by running out on to the track mid-race. He was jailed for two months following the incident.


FAST FACTS

  • Rain often affects the British Grand Prix. In 2000, the race was held in April and there was torrential rain all weekend- leading to farcical parking issues for fans attending the race. Similarly, the 2012 event was hit by abnormal levels of rain, leading to some fans being told to stay away for the Saturday action.
  • Silverstone is one of the circuits that takes the most lateral energy out of the tyres all year.
  • Ferrari scored their first Formula One win here in 1951.
  • The British Grand Prix is one of the most well attended of the season with around 140,000 fans expected to flock to the circuit on race day.
  • Maggots is one of the fastest corners on any racing track in the world, taken at speeds of up to 180mph.
  • Almost two thirds of the lap is spent at full throttle, with the drivers performing 34 gear shifts per lap. The longest flat-out section of the track goes on for 1034 meters.

🇬🇧 WHY WE LOVE SILVERSTONE

It’s hard not to love the birthplace of Formula One. Though plenty has changed over the years, what hasn’t changed are some of the legendary corners – Stowe, Copse, Maggotts, Becketts, Brooklands, Luffield to name a few. The challenge of these corners, along with the high speed Wellington and Hangar straights remains year on year, making Silverstone one of the drivers’ and fans’ favourite tracks.


POLESITTERS AT SILVERSTONE

Poles Driver
6 Lewis Hamilton
3 Jim Clark
3 Nigel Mansell
3 Damon Hill
2 Stirling Moss
2 Rene Arnoux
2 Mika Häkkinen
2 Rubens Barrichello
2 Fernando Alonso
2 Sebastian Vettel
1 Giuseppe Farina
1 José Froilán González
1 Nino Farina
1 Alberto Ascari
1 Juan Manuel Fangio
1 Jack Brabham
1 Jochen Rindt
1 Clay Regazzoni
1 Ronnie Peterson
1 Tom Pryce
1 James Hunt
1 Alan Jones
1 Keke Rosberg
1 Nelson Piquet
1 Gerhard Berger
1 Ayrton Senna
1 Alain Prost
1 Jacques Villeneuve
1 Michael Schumacher
1 Juan Pablo Montoya
1 Kimi Räikkönen
1 Heikki Kovalainen
1 Mark Webber
1 Fernando Alonso
1 Nico Rosberg

GRAND PRIX WINNERS AT SILVERSTONE

Year Winner Team
1950 Giuseppe Farina Alfa Romeo
1951 José Froilán González Ferrari
1952 Alberto Ascari Ferrari
1953 Alberto Ascari Ferrari
1954 José Froilán González Ferrari
1956 Juan-Manuel Fangio Lancia-Ferrari
1958 Peter Collins Ferrari
1960 Jack Brabham Cooper-Climax
1963 Jim Clark Lotus-Climax
1965 Jim Clark Lotus-Climax
1967 Jim Clark Lotus-Ford
1969 Jackie Stewart Matra-Ford
1971 Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Ford
1973 Peter Revson McLaren-Ford
1975 Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren-Ford
1977 James Hunt McLaren-Ford
1979 Clay Regazzoni Williams-Ford
1981 John Watson McLaren-Ford
1983 Alain Prost Renault
1985 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
1987 Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
1988 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
1989 Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
1990 Alain Prost Ferrari
1991 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault
1992 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault
1993 Alain Prost Williams-Renault
1994 Damon Hill Williams-Renault
1995 Johnny Herbert Benetton-Renault
1996 Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault
1997 Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault
1998 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
1999 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes
2000 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes
2001 Mika Häkkinen McLaren-Mercedes
2002 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2003 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2005 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren-Mercedes
2006 Fernando Alonso Renault
2007 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2009 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2010 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
2011 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
2012 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
2013 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2017 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2018 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari