Silverstone: The Ultimate Track Guide

Other circuits have 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.

TRACK LENGTH3.659 miles
MOST POLESLewis Hamilton (7)
MOST WINSLewis Hamilton (8)

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 in 2022
Image: © Andrew Balfour

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 at the track 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.

Silverstone track map

1950 saw the first ever Formula 1 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.

Crowd at Silverstone in 2022
Image: © Andrew Balfour

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.

Lando Norris at Silverstone in 2022
Image: © Andrew Balfour

The future of the British Grand Prix had been in doubt, with Silverstone activating a break clause in its contract to host the event back in 2017. However, just before the 2019 British Grand Prix, it was announced that Silverstone had signed a new deal with F1 to host the event until 2024. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Silverstone hosted two races – the British Grand Prix and the one-off 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. It was the first time two races had been staged in Britain in a single season since 1993.



  • 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.
  • 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 1 win at Silverstone in 1951.
  • The British Grand Prix is one of the most well attended of the season with around 160,000 fans expected to flock to the circuit on race day at Silverstone.
  • 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 at Silverstone 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.


Verstappen claimed his first British Grand Prix victory, while both Norris and Hamilton finished on the podium in front of their home crowd.

Plenty of teams brought upgrades and updates to the 2023 British Grand Prix, with McLaren – in their special chrome livery – being the most impressive. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri qualified in the top three at Silverstone, but it was a familiar sight at the very front with Max Verstappen securing a fifth consecutive pole position, despite him damaging his front wing when exiting his garage in Q1.

Things got even better for McLaren at the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix as Norris overtook Verstappen for the lead on the way into Turn 1. Piastri remained on the tail of the Red Bull throughout the opening lap but could not quite find a path past. Norris led until Lap 5, when Verstappen re-claimed the lead at Brooklands.

There were moves throughout the field in the first half of the race with Hamilton making his way by Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Charles Leclerc going wheel to wheel and Sergio Perez making up for a disappointing qualifying performance in which he exited in Q1.

On Lap 33, Kevin Magnussen’s race came to a smoky end as he stopped on the Wellington Straight. The incident brought out the Safety Car, which led to the lead drivers pitting with 18 laps to go. While leader Verstappen and third place Hamilton switched to the soft tyre compound, Norris opted for the hardest compound. As a result of the timing of his earlier pit stop, Piastri dropped behind Hamilton to fourth ahead of the restart.

The race resumed on Lap 40 as Norris came under pressure from Hamilton on his softer tyres. The pair went side by side at the end of the Wellington Straight, and on the old pit straight on the following lap, but Norris’ defensive moves kept the McLaren ahead.

Sainz’s hard tyres led to him dropping down the order in the final stages, being passed by Perez, Alex Albon and team-mate Charles Leclerc in quick succession. Behind the Ferraris, contact between Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly led to the Alpine driver’s retirement, while Perez recovered to sixth place in the closing laps.

Verstappen crossed the finish line just under four seconds ahead of Norris to claim his first British Grand Prix victory, though it was his second F1 win at Silverstone. It was a record-equalling 11th successive win for Red Bull. With Hamilton completing the podium, this was the first time two British drivers recorded a home podium in the same race since 1999.


Sainz secured his first pole position in a wet weather qualifying session for the 2022 British Grand Prix and went on to take his maiden win in the dry.

After mixed weather conditions in Silverstone’s practice sessions, qualifying for the 2022 British Grand Prix was held in the rain. Nicholas Latifi impressed in the wet conditions, reaching Q3 for the only time in his career. It was Carlos Sainz who set the fastest time in the final part of qualifying, securing the first pole position of his career. Despite a spin on his first attempt at a lap in Q3, Max Verstappen joined him on the front row.

Verstappen passed Sainz on the run to Turn 1 at the start of the Grand Prix but there was big drama behind with a crash involving multiple drivers. Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo slid upside down along the track, eventually coming to a rest between the barriers and the catch fencing. The red flag was shown and Zhou was lucky to escape without injury. The collision also eliminated George Russell from the race, while Alex Albon was taken to hospital after hitting the pit wall in an incident with Sebastian Vettel.

The race restarted almost an hour later with the drivers starting from their original grid positions. This time around, Sainz boldly defended his lead and stayed ahead of the Red Bull. Behind them, Charles Leclerc made contact with Sergio Perez. Leclerc then went side-by-side with Verstappen at Brooklands, but the Red Bull did not yield. Perez made an early stop due to damage picked up in his contact with Leclerc. 

Sainz maintained the lead until Lap 10, when a wide moment allowed Verstappen to overtake. Two laps later, however, Verstappen slowed, allowing both Ferraris to pass him. Red Bull later confirmed that Verstappen was struggling with bodywork damage. 

On Lap 31, Sainz was instructed to allow Leclerc to pass as the other Ferrari had better pace. On Lap 39, Esteban Ocon came to a stop on the old pit straight leading to a Safety Car period. Sainz pitted under Safety Car conditions, as did Lewis Hamilton – who had shown good pace in the race. At the restart Perez made a move on the Mercedes for third. Simultaneously, the lead of the race changed hands. Leclerc went wide, allowing Sainz to re-take the lead at Brooklands. 

Two laps later, Perez and Leclerc duelled for second place. Their battle sent them both slightly wide, allowing Hamilton to pull off the overtake of an action-packed race, passing both cars in one corner. Hamilton was soon re-passed by both drivers and came under pressure from Fernando Alonso. Alonso was unable to make a move but Hamilton then fought back against Leclerc for the final podium spot. 

Sainz held on to take his first win in Formula 1 and was followed over the line by Perez and Hamilton. Further back, Verstappen – still struggling with car damage – was embroiled in a late race dice with Mick Schumacher for seventh place. The Haas driver finished behind Verstappen but still picked up the first points of his career.


While F1 hosted its first ever Sprint Qualifying session at Silverstone, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided in the Grand Prix, as Hamilton took another home win.

Formula 1 ran a revised weekend schedule at the 2021 British Grand Prix, which saw just a single hour of practice before the conventional qualifying session on Friday evening. George Russell delighted the partisan crowd with a Q3 appearance, while Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap time which saw him line up at the front of the grid for the inaugural Sprint Qualifying.

In Sprint Qualifying, Max Verstappen got ahead of Hamilton into Turn 1 and that was how it remained, with the Red Bull driver securing pole position. The other Red Bull of Sergio Perez faltered in the sprint race, spinning out and ultimately retiring. Russell also cost himself a top ten starting slot following a three-place grid penalty for an incident with Carlos Sainz on the opening lap.

Verstappen and Hamilton went wheel to wheel once again on the opening lap of the race – but this time with severe consequences. Side by side at Copse, the pair made contact, sending Verstappen spearing into the barriers. The red flags were shown as a result – but not before Charles Leclerc had found his way into the lead of the race. Hamilton picked up a 10-second time penalty for the incident.

Leclerc held his position at the restart and led for the majority of the race, despite engine scares throughout. The Ferrari driver was passed with only two laps to go by Hamilton, who went on to seal yet another British Grand Prix victory. Valtteri Bottas secured the final podium place. Aside from Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel was the only other retirement from the race. He spun at the restart and pulled into the pits before the race reached its conclusion.


After their tyre woes one week previously at the British Grand Prix, Mercedes struggled with Pirelli rubber once again at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix – allowing Red Bull and Max Verstappen to take their first win of 2020.

Nico Hulkenberg replaced Sergio Perez for a second successive race at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix. The German impressed in qualifying at Silverstone, lining up third on the grid – behind only the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Hulkenberg was passed by Max Verstappen on the opening lap, while Bottas and Hamilton went wheel-to-wheel. Hamilton challenged Bottas into Brooklands, but the Finn remained ahead. As Verstappen told his engineers that he would not wait behind the Mercedes “like a grandma”, the Mercedes’ tyres began to show signs of wear. Bottas pitted first, with Verstappen hunting down Hamilton for the lead. Hamilton pitted soon after, leaving the Red Bull in clear air.

While team-mate Alex Albon pulled off brave moves on Kimi Raikkonen around the outside of Stowe and on Pierre Gasly at Luffield, Verstappen continued to lap strongly. Once again, Mercedes’ tyres were beginning to grain with over half distance still to run.

Verstappen pitted on Lap 27, emerging from the pit lane just behind Bottas. With the Mercedes now split, Verstappen wasted no time in passing Bottas and re-assuming the lead of the race. Just five laps later, Bottas and Verstappen both pitted again. Hamilton pitted from the lead ten laps later, allowing Verstappen to lead once more.

With Verstappen now way out in the lead, Bottas and Hamilton fought for second place – with the reigning champion eventually coming out on top. Verstappen secured the win – his and Red Bull’s first of the 2020 season.


Nothing could stop Lewis Hamilton from taking another home victory at the 2020 British Grand Prix – not even a puncture on the final lap!

Ahead of the British Grand Prix weekend, Racing Point announced a positive COVID-19 test for Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver was forced to miss the race weekend, and was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg. The German driver failed to take the start due to a mechanical issue.

Lewis Hamilton took pole position with a new Track Record at the Silverstone circuit. The two Mercedes went side by side at Turn 1, but Hamilton stayed ahead. On the second lap, Alex Albon collided with Kevin Magnussen, sending the Haas spearing into the barrier on the main straight. The Safety Car was called out as a result, with Albon opting to make an early stop. The Red Bull driver was handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision.

Racing had barely resumed when the Safety Car made another appearance, this time as a result of a heavy crash for Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat collided with the barriers due to a rear tyre failure. The leaders pitted under the Safety Car, before racing resumed on Lap 19.

In the closing stages, Valtteri Bottas – who was running second – picked up a puncture which dropped him well down the order. Max Verstappen made a precautionary pit stop at the start of the penultimate lap. On the final lap, Carlos Sainz also ran into tyre troubles having been in fourth place. This was followed by a puncture for race leader Lewis Hamilton half way around the final lap.

Verstappen, now with no tyre concerns, closed in on the ailing Mercedes but Hamilton held on to take a record-breaking seventh home win in the most extraordinary circumstances.


On a weekend where the future of the British Grand Prix was secured until 2024, Lewis Hamilton became the most successful driver at the event, taking a commanding sixth Silverstone win.

Valtteri Bottas took pole position at Silverstone in the most closely-fought qualifying sessions of the hybrid era. He lapped the circuit just six thousandths quicker than team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas covered off his team-mate on the opening lap, as Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo went wheel to wheel for seventh place. Hamilton continued to be hot on the heels of his team-mate in the opening stages, finally pulling off a move into Brooklands on the fourth lap. But Bottas fought back, and re-took the lead through Copse corner.

Leclerc and Verstappen diced for third place, with Vettel joining in on the fight. The two youngsters pitted at the same time and went alongside each other down the pit-lane, Verstappen eventually winning the place. But Verstappen went wide just after exiting the pit-lane, and Leclerc took the position back once again.

The Safety Car was called on Lap 20 as Antonio Giovinazzi slid into the gravel. Hamilton pitted under Safety Car conditions, gaining an advantage over his team-mate and taking the lead as a result. At the Safety Car restart, Sergio Perez lost his front wing in a battle with the Renaults. Verstappen and Leclerc’s battle continued, with Leclerc barging his way through – but Verstappen once again took the position back.

After the pit stops, Verstappen battled with the other Ferrari and overtook Vettel – only to be hit from behind by the German. The pair were both able to continue, but Vettel picked up a ten second time penalty for the incident. Hamilton cruised to an unprecedented sixth British Grand Prix victory, finishing 24 seconds ahead of his team-mate, and Leclerc picked up the final podium position.


Lewis Hamilton took pole for the British Grand Prix, but Sebastian Vettel spoiled Hamilton’s home party on Sunday as he took victory in one of the season’s most enthralling races.

Brendon Hartley was left unable to compete in Qualifying following a huge crash in the final practice session as a result of a suspension failure. The Williams cars had difficulties in Qualifying due to a new rear wing, leaving Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll starting the race from the pit-lane alongside Hartley’s Toro Rosso.

Lewis Hamilton started from pole at Silverstone for a record-breaking sixth time, but a tangle with Kimi Raikkonen left him down at the back of the field at the end of the first lap. Sebastian Vettel had struggled with a pain in his neck earlier in the weekend, but that failed to stop him taking the lead before his team-mate and Hamilton collided. Raikkonen was handed a ten-second penalty, while Bottas pursued Vettel for the lead.

Charles Leclerc was having a strong race, but an incorrectly fitted tyre at his pit stop brought an early end to his race. Sauber’s bad day continued as Marcus Ericsson crashed at the first turn prompting a Safety Car period.

As Vettel took the opportunity to pit for a second time, Mercedes opted to keep their cars out on track, meaning Bottas took the lead. Raikkonen duelled with Max Verstappen for fourth place after the Safety Car restart, with the Finnish driver ultimately getting ahead some laps later, before Verstappen retired with braking troubles. Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz collided, ending both of their races.

Back at the front, Vettel snatched the lead back from Bottas with five laps to go. Hamilton soon cruised by his team-mate for second, while Raikkonen passed his fellow Finn for third place in the closing stages.


It’s hard not to love the birthplace of Formula 1. 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.


YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1950Giuseppe FarinaAlfa RomeoGiuseppe FarinaAlfa Romeo
1951José Froilán GonzálezFerrariJosé Froilán GonzálezFerrari
1952Giuseppe FarinaFerrariAlberto AscariFerrari
1953Alberto AscariFerrariAlberto AscariFerrari
1954Juan Manuel FangioMercedesJosé Froilán GonzálezFerrari
1956Stirling MossMaseratiJuan-Manuel FangioFerrari
1958Stirling MossVanwallPeter CollinsFerrari
1960Jack BrabhamCooperJack BrabhamCooper
1963Jim ClarkLotusJim ClarkLotus
1965Jim ClarkLotusJim ClarkLotus
1967Jim ClarkLotusJim ClarkLotus
1969Jochen RindtLotusJackie StewartMatra
1971Clay RegazzoniFerrariJackie StewartTyrrell
1973Ronnie PetersonLotusPeter RevsonMcLaren
1975Tom PryceShadowEmerson FittipaldiMcLaren
1977James HuntMcLarenJames HuntMcLaren
1979Alan JonesWilliamsClay RegazzoniWilliams
1981Rene ArnouxRenaultJohn WatsonMcLaren
1983Rene ArnouxFerrariAlain ProstRenault
1985Keke RosbergWilliamsAlain ProstMcLaren
1987Nelson PiquetWilliamsNigel MansellWilliams
1988Gerhard BergerFerrariAyrton SennaMcLaren
1989Ayrton SennaMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1990Nigel MansellFerrariAlain ProstFerrari
1991Nigel MansellWilliamsNigel MansellWilliams
1992Nigel MansellWilliamsNigel MansellWilliams
1993Alain ProstWilliamsAlain ProstWilliams
1994Damon HillWilliamsDamon HillWilliams
1995Damon HillWilliamsJohnny HerbertBenetton
1996Damon HillWilliamsJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1997Jacques VilleneuveWilliamsJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1998Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
1999Mika HäkkinenMcLarenDavid CoulthardMcLaren
2000Rubens BarrichelloFerrariDavid CoulthardMcLaren
2001Michael SchumacherFerrariMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaWilliamsMichael SchumacherFerrari
2003Rubens BarrichelloFerrariRubens BarrichelloFerrari
2004Kimi RäikkönenMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
2005Fernando AlonsoRenaultJuan Pablo MontoyaMcLaren
2006Fernando AlonsoRenaultFernando AlonsoRenault
2007Lewis HamiltonMcLarenKimi RäikkönenFerrari
2008Heikki KovalainenMcLarenLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2009Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2010Sebastian VettelRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2011Mark WebberRed BullFernando AlonsoFerrari
2012Fernando AlonsoFerrariMark WebberRed Bull
2013Lewis HamiltonMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2014Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesSebastian VettelFerrari
2019Valtteri BottasMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
70th Anniversary GPValtteri BottasMercedesMax VerstappenRed Bull
2021Max VerstappenRed BullLewis HamiltonMercedes
2022Carlos SainzFerrariCarlos SainzFerrari
2023Max VerstappenRed BullMax VerstappenRed Bull
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