Anyone who is familiar with the Silverstone circuit or who visits for the first time to enjoy the excitement of the Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix on 28th-30th of June this year will find it hard to imagine its beginnings as a reconstructed World War Two airfield. Only two years after the war ended, in October 1948, thousands turned up to see the very first event at Silverstone, the RAC Grand Prix.
There were twenty three competitors in that race and the track was made up from two of the runways which had seen bombers leave in raids over the skies of southern England in the Battle of Britain.
The way the course was laid out was very scary for both onlookers and drivers, with the cars racing towards each other at certain points of the track, so to avoid knee-jerk reactions causing dangerous braking, temporary screens were erected so the drivers couldn’t see each other.
Another rather incongruous note was struck because of the ‘dig for victory’ mood still prevailing – the onlookers couldn’t access certain areas in case they disturbed the farmers’ crops, growing alongside the track!
The first British Grand Prix was hosted at Silverstone in 1950 and was won by Italian Giuseppe Farina. In fact, there wasn’t a British winner at Silverstone for a long while – Stirling Moss won in 1955, but that year the race was hosted by Aintree! In all (to date) there have been twelve British winners of the British Grand Prix, the most prolific being Jim Clark who won a staggering – and unmatched – run of 1962 and 1965.
Silverstone saw a wonderful record set in fact in 1965, when the first five were British drivers. It’s probably best not to emulate these driving heroes on the road but just to be extra safe make sure you have budget car insurance from Express Insurance.
Grand Prix racegoers are fond of facts and figures and so here are some you can use to wow your friends. Fernando Alonso, currently ranked third above Lewis Hamilton, has scored in each of his last twenty races. This isn’t the record though – that is held by Michael Schumacher, who notched up a run of twenty four races in a row.
Sebastian Vettel (# 1 pending the Canadian Grand Prix) has just gained his 33rd pole position in Valencia. Although only 24 years old he has matched the career totals of Briton Jim Clark. He has a way to go before he beats Schumacher, though – he has sixty eight pole positions.
However, first in the world or not, Vettel needed think that all those pole positions give him much of an edge as far as Silverstone is concerned. Only four of the last seventeen F1 races there have been won by the driver who began in pole position.
Mind you – he probably knows that already; in 2010 he was in pole position, but lost out to Michael Webber, driving for Red Bull.
Hot on racegoers lips will be whether or not BMW are returning to F1 racing. Just after Honda announced that they will be returning to F1 in 2015, Bernie Eccleston commented that BMW were sure to follow. Rumours of their return to F1 have been squashed by BMW – but who knows what can happen in the future.
The Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix is a great day out for the whole family with loads to do even if you are not a madly keen racing fan. With family tickets available at cut prices, you can enjoy a day out without breaking the bank and there are loads of food outlets – fifteen new ones since last year alone – and a lovely setting.
Silverstone is easy to get to as well, with junctions leading directly to it on the M1 and the M40. You can still get all-in ticket by train from London which makes the day very simple to plan – kids; if you still haven’t planned your Father’s Day present, now’s the time to sound him out and I bet he would be pleased as punch with a day out to the Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix.