The British Grand Prix is always a highlight on the Formula One calendar, and one of the cornerstones of the British sporting summer. Lights Out takes a look back over the years as we celebrate the British drivers to have won their home Grand Prix at Silverstone.
1958 – Peter Collins
The 1958 event was the first Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone to be won by a Brit. Peter Collins, who drove for Ferrari won the race by 24 seconds. This was one of only three wins in Collins’ career. It was deemed to be his best as he managed to keep the much superior Vanwall car of Mike Hawthorn behind, until Hawthorn retired due to an engine failure. Sadly, Collins was killed in an accident at the Nurburgring at the next round of the 1958 season. The 1958 British Grand Prix also featured one of two Grand Prix entries for Bernie Ecclestone, the other being at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix. He recorded a DNQ (Did Not Qualify) on each of his attempts.
1963, 1965, 1967 – Jim Clark
Jim Clark won three consecutive Grands Prix to be held at Silverstone in a five year period, including two on his way to being crowned 1963 and 1965 Formula One World Champion. In 1963, he won with an all British podium after John Surtees finished second for Ferrari and Graham Hill came home third for BRM. In 1965, Clark won from pole with Hill and Surtees once again completing the podium but this time Hill was the runner up and Surtees finished third. Clark’s third Silverstone win in a Lotus came in 1967 when he again won from the front of the grid.
1969, 1971 – Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart won two consecutive Grands Prix to be held at Silverstone in 1969 and 1971. In 1969, Stewart and Jochen Rindt swapped positions for the lead throughout the race by slipstreaming one another. Stewart signaled to Rindt that the Austrian’s car had damage and Rindt was obliged to pit. There was a problem at the pit stop to fix the damaged wings as the team failed to put enough fuel in Rindt’s car to take him to the end of the Grand Prix. He had to pit again which meant it was, in the end, a dominant victory for Stewart who finished a lap ahead of everyone else.
In 1971, Stewart won from second on the grid. Jackie Oliver was fined £50 at the start of this race for a collision with Graham Hill. Stewart won the race by an impressive 36 seconds as he extended his championship lead over Jacky Ickx.
1977 – James Hunt
In 1977, James Hunt won his first and only Silverstone race, finishing eighteen seconds ahead of 1976 title rival Niki Lauda. Hunt had crossed the line first in the 1976 British Grand Prix but was eventually disqualified from the result almost two months later following an appeal from Ferrari over the legality of Hunt taking a restart after a first lap crash. David Purley had an F1 career-ending crash in Pre-Qualifying at the 1977 event. The 1977 British Grand Prix was one of two firsts- Gilles Villeneuve drove in his debut Grand Prix, finishing eleventh and Jean-Pierre Jabouille debuted the first turbocharged Formula One car, but retired on Lap 16.
1981 – John Watson
McLaren hadn’t won a race since the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix when John Watson won for the team at Silverstone in 1981. It was also Watson’s first Grand Prix victory in five years. Only he and Carlos Reutemann finished on the lead lap. The 1981 British Grand Prix was the first time that an F1 car with a carbon fibre monocoque won a race.
1987, 1991, 1992 – Nigel Mansell
Nigel Mansell won the British Grand Prix three times in his illustrious career, all for Williams. His first win came in 1987 when he beat his team-mate Nelson Piquet by just under two seconds. His 1987 win is remembered for his move on leading Piquet into Stowe, which is often argued as one of the greatest in Formula One’s history.
The scenes after Mansell’s 1991 win are some of the images most synonymous with Formula One as the Brit gave an out of fuel Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits. The Brazilian perched on the sidepod of the Williams as Mansell drove around his victory lap. Senna was still qualified in fourth place having not being lapped by the race leader. Mansell won the Grand Prix with a 43 second margin to closest rival Gerhard Berger.
Mansell won his final British Grand Prix in his championship year. Yet again, the end of the race was as spectacular as fans invaded the track and gathered around Mansell’s Williams as he drove on his victory lap. Nigel’s route eventually became completely blocked by fans, so he was taken to the podium by track marshals. This Grand Prix victory made Mansell the most successful British Formula One driver at the time, surpassing Jackie Stewart’s 27 wins. There were two Brits on the podium in 1992, as Martin Brundle came third for Benetton and it was also the first Grand Prix entry for 1996 World Champion Damon Hill.
1994 – Damon Hill
Damon Hill took his only British Grand Prix victory in 1994. Michael Schumacher was handed a five second stop-go penalty for overtaking Hill’s Williams on the formation lap. Schumacher failed to respond to the penalty and was shown the black flag but failed to return to the pits. As a result, the Benetton team were given a $500,000 fine and Schumacher was banned for two races.
1995 – Johnny Herbert
Johnny Herbert won the 1995 British Grand Prix after starting fifth on the grid. Damon Hill had led comfortably for the opening stages but Michael Schumacher began to reel him in and at the end of Lap 23, Schumacher led by nine seconds. Hill was on fresher tyres at this point so began to edge closer to the Benetton but Schumacher’s level of fuel was less than that of Hill’s so the German again began extending his lead. By Lap 46, Hill had caught back up to the leader and attempted a move into Stowe but it was blocked by a lapped Sauber. Later in the same lap, Hill attempted again into Priory but as Schumacher turned on the racing line the pair eliminated each other from the Grand Prix. This allowed Johnny Herbert to take the win after a short battle with David Coulthard, who had a penalty anyway. It was Herbert’s first win in Formula One in 74 attempts.
1999, 2000 – David Coulthard
The 1999 British Grand Prix is perhaps best remembered for the first lap. After two drivers stalled on the grid, the race was stopped but Michael Schumacher was oblivious to this fact as he overtook his team-mate Eddie Irvine into Stowe. Just milliseconds after he had made the pass on entry to the corner, Schumacher locked up, went across the gravel and straight into the tyre barrier. It was a heavy impact and Schumacher broke a leg, which would see him out of Formula One until near the end of the 1999 season. Hakkinen lost a rear wheel after the first round of pit-stops, handing the lead to team-mate Coulthard who had overtaken Irvine in a battle which lasted throughout the opening stages. Irvine piled the pressure on Coulthard right until the end but the Brit took his first British Grand Prix win, with Michael’s brother Ralf taking the final podium spot.
Coulthard would repeat the feat in 2000 after starting from fourth on the grid, managing to nurse a failing gearbox home just one and a half seconds ahead of his team-mate Mika Hakkinen.
2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 – Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 with Mercedes, but it is his first win at Silverstone in 2008 which is regarded as his best.
The 2008 Grand Prix began in wet conditions, with Hamilton’s team-mate Heikki Kovalainen on pole. Hamilton moved from fourth to second in the first corner and battled for the lead, with the two McLarens almost colliding in the process. Mark Webber, who had impressed in Qualifying to be on the front row of the grid, spun on the first lap. Hamilton eventually made it past his team-mate on Lap 5, and from there extended his lead to 68 seconds, making his eventual win the largest victory margin in thirteen years.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.