The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the site of the very first Formula One championship race back in May of 1950, which was attended by King George VI. The circuit, located in Northamptonshire in central England, has been the setting for many iconic moments and thrilling races throughout the history of Formula One motor racing.
To this day the race remains one of the fastest and most exciting tracks on the F1 calendar which has been won by many legends of the sport including Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Michael Schumacher amongst others. Local hero, Lewis Hamilton, holds the record for most victories at the British Grand Prix with eight wins on the Silverstone circuit. This year’s British Grand Prix takes place at Silverstone on 7th July 2024.
History of the British Grand Prix
It may not be the location of the first ever Grand Prix but the British Grand Prix at the Silverstone Circuit is definitely the oldest of the most consistently held Grands Prix in the Formula 1 series. The first British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands motor circuit in Surrey in 1926.
Silverstone staged the race for the first time in 1948 on what had been a WWII airfield and bomber base. Two years later this venue hosted the first British Grand Prix which was an oficial race of the newly formed Formula 1 World Championship. That first race in 1950 was won by Giuseppe Farina who went on to become the first official Formula One World Champion at the end of the season.
In the following years the race alternated between Silverstone and Aintree, and later with Brands Hatch, until 1987, when it became the permanent home of the British Grand Prix. The race has been staged at Silverstone every year since.
Silverstone was once one of the fastest tracks in the Formula 1 series, so dangerous that officials had the circuit renovated in 1991 and again in 1995, although some criticize that the new safer track had lost its edge. Before then, the tight hairpin corners were some of the most challenging, separated by long straights, which allowed drivers to go at very high speeds, even when several chicanes were added to the circuit through the years. In 1985, Keke Rosberg held a 16-year record for the fastest qualifying lap in the Formula 1 Championship series at the British Grand Prix, clocking an average speed of 258.9 km per hour.
Alain Prost won the race that year, one of his 5 wins at the British Grand Prix which equalled Jim Clark’s tally. Other multiple victories were achieved by Nigel Mansell who recorded four wins whilst Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher won three races each. More recently the race has been dominated by Lewis Hamilton who has been victorious on eight occasions.
Silverstone is based around the perimeter roads of a former airfield. This high speed track was modified in 2010 with a new arena layout, increasing the spectacle for fans. After the Wellington Straight, cars brake hard for the looping right of Aintree before hammering down Hangar Straight, taking the Maggots/Becketts complex at over 260km/h.
Chapel Curve leads to Stowe, a classic fast right hander. The technical infield section follows, with the tight left of Club corner, before cars accelerate down the Hangar Straight once again. The high speed Abbey kink launches cars onto the pit straight where races are won and lost. Silverstone balances ultra high speed sections with technical medium speed corners for a challenging and exciting F1 lap.
Winners of the British Grand Prix
As the home race for much of F1’s history, British drivers have excelled at Silverstone. Lewis Hamilton has dominated in the turbo hybrid era with 8 wins. Other British champions have included Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill and James Hunt. Max Verstappen got his first win at Silverstone in 2023.
Here are the winners at Silverstone over the past decade:
|2023||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
Fan Guide to the British Grand Prix
Getting to the British Grand Prix
The Silverstone Circuit is located close to Northampton in central England. The most convenient airport for race goers is Birmingham International which lies 90km north-west of the circuit. Regular direct trains run from Birmingham Airport to Northampton station in under an hour and shuttle buses run from Northampton to the track on race days. Alternatively, some spectators fly into London Luton, London Stansted, Gatwick or Heathrow and travel to the circuit by rental car.
If you’re driving to the circuit, the Silverstone traffic management system uses park and ride sites around the area to get fans to the circuit hassle-free. Follow event signage and use official parking areas to save time on race days.
Where to Stay Near Siverstone
Staying in London or Birmingham is an option during the race weekend or you can book small hotels or bed and breakfast accommodation in nearby towns such as Northampton, Towcester, Daventry, Oxford or Buckingham and the surrounding area. A budget option is to camp at the circuit’s campground although the likelihood of rain puts a dampener on this option for most race goers.
British Grand Prix Tickets
Tickets for the British GP sell out quickly so early booking is essential. There are many ticket categories depending on where you reserve and which days you wish to attend so check the Official Silverstone Website for details and to make reservations. Typically a 4-day weekend ticket in the General Admission category costs around £400 whilst reserved grandstand seats can cost as much as £900 for the weekend. Views for holders of general admission tickets are quite good provided you make sure you find a spot where you can catch the action between Copse and Beckett corners.