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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Top 5 British Grands Prix

It’s a quick turnaround in the F1 world as we leave Austria and head straight to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.

A mainstay of the F1 calendar since the inaugural World Championship in 1950, Silverstone of course famously held the first ever official Formula One race in history, with Giuseppe Farina winning for Alfa Romeo.

Since then the race has been held 56 times at Silverstone, with the other 17 times alternating between Aintree and Brands Hatch. It is the only Grand Prix, as well as the Italian Grand Prix, to have been held in every single season since the beginning of the Formula One World Championship.

It’s a race that Australia has enjoyed success in as well, with Jack Brabham, Alan Jones and Mark Webber all tasting the victory champagne in the motherland.

But of all the 73 British Grands Prix, which five stand out as the best? Read on to find out.

5. 1995 – Winner: Johnny Herbert (Benetton)

A race between the ‘number two drivers’ at the time, Johnny Herbert stormed to his first ever grand prix win to the shock and delight of the British fans.

1995 was all about the Damon Hill v Michael Schumacher rivalry, and Hill had taken the early lead at Silverstone after securing pole on the Saturday. Schumacher was able to get his Benetton into the lead after his one-stop strategy, but after his second stop on his two-stop strategy, Hill closed the gap to Schumacher and looked to retake the lead.

However on lap 46 Hill’s attempt to pass his rival failed, taking both of them out at Priory and leaving the race wide open for their respective teammates.

Hill’s teammate David Coulthard looked in the box seat to win, however he was awarded a 10 second pit lane speeding penalty, dropping him back to third and handing Herbert the lead and the victory.

It wasn’t the British driver everyone wanted to win, but remained a popular victory all the same.

4. 1967 – Winner: Jim Clark (Lotus)

We all know how dominant Max Verstappen is currently in F1 but in 1967 one man was almost as equally as dominant and that man was the great Jim Clark.

Leading from start to finish in his Lotus-Ford, Clark looked set to lead home his Lotus teammate Graham Hill for a famous British 1-2 finish, before Hill retired with a rear suspension failure.

From there, Kiwi icon Denny Hulme in his Branham challenged Clark, who put an incredible display of defensive driving against his rival, holding on to win the race and claim his last win on home soil.

For large portions of the race Hulme would be right on the tail of Clark as the two cars almost looked like they were one, but Clark was able to hold the New Zealander to take the chequered flag first.

An incredible display of defensive driving.

3. 1987 – Winner: Nigel Mansell (Williams)

The Williams-Honda was the car to be in during the 1987, and Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were showing that with a front row lockout of the 1987 British Grand Prix.

Alain Prost in his McLaren got off to a great start from 4th on the grid to take the lead, before ultimately the two Williams’ drivers took control of the race.

Piquet was the lead driver, maintaining a small lead over his teammate before Mansell pitted on lap 35 after suffering from a vibration issue to change tyres. Given Piquet didn’t stop, as this was before cars were forced to stop to change tyres, Mansell had to bridge a 28.4s gap to his teammate with 29 laps remaining to have any chance of a debut British Grand Prix win at Silverstone.

But Mansell was a man on a mission. With fresh rubber, he smashed lap record after lap record, sending the crowd into raptures as we brought the gap down to 1.7s with only five laps to go.

With three laps to go, the pair went down Hangar Straight closely before Mansell sold Piquet an iconic dummy to move to the outside, diving into Stowe to take the lead and go on to record arguably one of his greatest ever wins.

An incredibly iconic drive from an iconic driver.

2. 2008 – Winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

A race which was iconic for the drive of one driver. That driver? Lewis Hamilton.

Driving for McLaren at the time, Hamilton hadn’t had a good run of form heading into his home race and was sitting fourth in the Championship at the time. The media circus around him was questioning his commitment to the sport, and he further fuelled that fire by only qualifying fourth on the grid at Silverstone, three spots behind his pole-sitting teammate Heikki Kovalainen.

From there though, it was all Hamilton. He stormed off the line at the start into second by immediately passing the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull of Mark Webber, before barnstorming his way around his teammate to be in the lead by the end of lap one.

And he was never challenged from that point on, dominating every part of the wet-dry race to win by a whopping 69 seconds, which as we all know is an eternity in Formula One.

In 2017, Autosport named this as the fifth best F1 wet win of all time and also ranked this as the best win in Hamilton’s career. That about sums up the magic that was the 2008 British Grand Prix and the pure class by one driver in winning it.

1. 2003 – Winner: Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari)

The only non-British winner on this list, Rubens Barrichello rode a wave of craziness to take one of the best wins of his career at one of the more memorable races of the 21st century.

Arguably best known as ‘that race where the crazy dude ran down the straight protesting something’, Barrichello was in amazing form all weekend at Silverstone and one of the rare occasions in his Ferrari career where he had the complete measure of teammate Michael Schumacher.

Starting on pole, the Brazilian dropped back to third behind the Toyota of Jarno Trulli and McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen before fighting his way back into second by the time that ‘the crazy dude’, aka Neil Horan, invaded the track on lap 11 which brought out the safety car.

The craziness that followed saw Barrichello drop down to eighth, but a barnstorming drive saw him fight his way through the field and on lap 40 he pulled off a stunning overtake on Raikkonen into the Bridge corner.

Barrichello won by over five seconds from Juan-Pablo Montoya, but more tellingly beat fourth-placed Schumacher by 25 seconds.

It was an incredible drive and a thoroughly deserved win by the popular ‘Rubinho’.

Do you agree with this list? Which British Grand Prix is your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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