The end of the Second World War had left Britain with no major race track but plenty of airfields. On 2 October 1948, the Royal Automobile Club hosted the first British Grand Prix at Silverstone, a former RAF base. An estimated 100,000 people flocked to see Luigi Villoresi beat 22 others in his Maserati marked by bales, ropes and canvas barriers.
Silverstone racing history had begun.
The one and only time a reigning monarch has attended a British motor race, King George VI helped the crowd to celebrate the status of European Grand Prix at the Silverstone race.
The British Racing Drivers’ Club took over the lease of Silverstone from the RAC and set about changing the airfield track into something more permanent, raising the spectators up for a better view.
Argentinian legend Juan Manuel Fangio struggled at the 1954 British Grand Prix. The all-enveloping bodywork meant he repeatedly dented his Mercedes on the oil drums which marked the edge of the track.
Graham Hill stalled his BRM at the start of 1960 Grand Prix but went from last to first, only to spin off at Copse. He was just five laps from the finish, handing victory to Jack Brabham.
Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 was leading comfortably before he lost oil pressure, in a desperate attempt to keep the car running he cruised the last lap in top gear. He won his fourth British Grand Prix in a row.
The race is best remembered for an epic duel between Stewart and Jochen Rindt. The pair swapped leading the race until Rindt had to pit to fix his rear wing and Stewart won.
Jackie Stewart wins the British Grand Prix, setting a new lap record on the way to a dominant victory. The World Championship title race was a similar story with Stewart winning six of 11 races to take his second world title.
A chicane was introduced at Woodcote before the 1975 British Grand Prix to slow the cars down. The corner had previously been renowned for Ronnie Peterson sliding his Lotus through at approximately 150mph.
The 1977 British Grand Prix saw the reigning Formula 1 World Champion and crowd favourite, James Hunt, take a popular win in his Marlboro McLaren-Ford M26.
Alain Prost wins his first British Grand Prix. Prost goes on to match Jim Clark’s record of five British Grand Prix victories. Whilst Clark claimed two victories at Aintree, Prost won all of his at Silverstone.
Nelson Piquet had to concede going into Stowe and Nigel Mansell won one of the greatest races of all time. When he ran out of fuel on his slowing down lap it sent the home fans into delirium – they flooded on to the track in celebration.
1988 will be remembered for Ayrton Senna showing his extraordinary skills in such monsoon-like conditions. He dominated to win the race, while Mansell again caused considerable excitement with his drive to second place.
Two major overhauls were required to maintain the Grand Prix. In 1991 and included a new ‘stadium’ area between Abbey and Woodcote as well as new sweeping curves instead of the old Becketts Corner.
Damon Hill came to the 1994 race with a point to prove having lost out to teammate Alain Prost the previous year. In winning the British Grand Prix Damon won a race that his father had never quite managed.
Michael Schumacher finally won the British Grand Prix in 1998, having but broke his leg the following year when his brakes failed at Stowe corner.
On Easter Sunday David Coulthard who, despite a gearbox problem, held off McLaren team mate Mika Hakkinen to win by just 1.5 seconds.
Starting eighth on the grid, Lewis made a great re-start after a safety car, ending up three abreast into the Becketts esses, emerging second. This left Felix Porteiro who was overtaken at Brooklands, a new British superstar had arrived.
After taking the lead from team mate Heikki Kovalainen on lap 5, and calling his tyre changes perfectly, Lewis Hamilton won his first British Grand Prix by a monumental 68.5 seconds from Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber.
Mark Webber felt Red Bull were giving Vettel preferential treatment after a mechanical failure. In the race Vettel got a puncture, Webber won the race. Making his feelings clear over the radio he stated “not bad for a number 2 driver!”
This race was challenging due to a series of tyre failures seeing 6 cars retire and 2 safety cars. Nico Rosberg held off Mark Webber to win the race while Lewis Hamilton thrilled fans by coming from the back to finish fourth.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw two back to back races held at Silverstone. Lewis Hamilton won the first race on 3 wheels after suffering a puncture. Max Verstappen then took the first Silverstone win for Red Bull since 2012.