Silverstone Circuit is a motor racing circuit in England next to the Northamptonshire villages of Silverstone and Whittlebury. The circuit straddles the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire border, with the current main circuit entry on the Buckinghamshire side. Silverstone is the current home of the British Grand Prix, which it first hosted in 1948. The 1950 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the first race in the newly created World Championship of Drivers. The race rotated between three UK circuits: Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch from 1955 to 1986, but relocated permanently to Silverstone in 1987.
On September 30th 2004, Jackie Stewart (President of the British Racing Drivers' Club) announced that the British Grand Prix would not be included on the 2005 provisional race calendar and, if it were, would probably not occur at Silverstone. However, on December 9th 2004, an agreement was reached with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone ensuring that the track would host the British Grand Prix until 2009 after which Donington Park would become the new host. However, the Donington Park leaseholders suffered economic problems resulting in the British Racing Drivers' Club signing a 17-year deal with Ecclestone to hold the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for the foreseeable future.
Lap Length | 5.891km (3.66 miles)
Race Laps | 52
Race Distance | 306.332km (190.346 miles)
Pole Position | Left-hand side of the track
Race Lap Record | 1’30.874 (Fernando Alonso, 2010)
Overall Lap Record | 1’29.607 (Lewis Hamilton, 2013)
Maximum Speed | 329.5kmh (204.74mph)
DRS Zone/s (Race) | Pit straight and Hangar straight
Distance to First Turn | 420 meters
Full Throttle | 70%
Longest Flat-out Section | 1034 meters
Downforce Level | High
Fuel Use per Lap | 2.8kg
Time Penalty per Lap of Fuel | 0.112 seconds
Silverstone is built on the site of a World War II Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone, which opened in 1943. The airfield's three runways, in classic WWII triangle format, lie within the outline of the present track. Silverstone was first used for motorsport by an ad hoc group of friends who set up an impromptu race in September 1947. One of their members, Maurice Geoghegan, lived in nearby Silverstone village and was aware that the airfield was deserted. He and eleven other drivers raced over a two-mile circuit, during the course of which Geoghegan himself ran over a sheep that had wandered onto the airfield. The sheep was killed and the car written off, and in the aftermath of this event the informal race became known as the Mutton Grand Prix.
The next year the Royal Automobile Club took a lease on the airfield and set out a more formal racing circuit. In 1952 the start line was moved from the Farm Straight to the straight linking Woodcote and Copse corners, and this layout remained largely unaltered for the following 38 years. The track underwent a major redesign between the 1990 and 1991 races, transforming the ultra-fast track into a more technical track. The reshaped track's first F1 race was perhaps the most memorable of recent years, with Nigel Mansell coming home first in front of his home crowd.
Following the deaths of Senna and fellow Grand Prix driver Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994, many Grand Prix circuits were modified in order to reduce speed and increase driver safety. As a consequence of this the entry from Hangar Straight into Stowe Corner was modified in 1995 so as to make its entry less dangerous. In addition, the flat-out Abbey kink was modified to a chicane in just 19 days before the 1994 GP.
• FIA Formula One | British Grand Prix
• FIM MotoGP | British Grand Prix
• FIA World Endurance Championship | 6 Hours of Silverstone
• FIM Superbike World Championship
• European Le Mans Series
• European Formula Two Championship
• FIA International Formula 3000
• British Touring Car Championship
• British F3 International Series
• British GT
• British Superbike Championship
• Silverstone Classic
History of Silverstone
After the end of World War II, the first motorsport event in the British Isles was held at Gransden Lodge in 1946 and the next on the Isle of Man, but there was nowhere permanent on the mainland which was suitable. In 1948, Royal Automobile Club (RAC), under the chairmanship of Wilfred Andrews, set its mind upon running a Grand Prix, but there was no possibility of closing the public highway or building a new circuit from scratch, some viable alternative had to be found.
A considerable number of ex-RAF airfields existed, and it was to these the RAC turned their attention to with particular interest being paid to two near the centre of England – Snitterfield near Stratford-upon-Avon and one behind the village of Silverstone. The latter was still under the control of the Air Ministry, but a lease was arranged in August 1948 and plans put into place to run the first British Grand Prix since the RAC last ran one at Brooklands in 1927. In August 1948, Andrews employed James Brown on a three-month contact to create the Grand Prix circuit in less than two months.
The 1948 British Grand Prix began at Silverstone on Thursday 30th September 1948 and the race took place on October 2nd. An estimated 100,000 spectators watched the race.
The second Grand Prix at Silverstone was scheduled for May 1949 and was officially designated the British Grand Prix. It was to use the full perimeter track with a chicane inserted at Club Corner. The length of the second circuit was exactly three miles and the race run over 100 laps, making it the longest post-war Grand Prix held in England. The attendance was estimated to be around 120,000.
The 1950 British Grand Prix was a significant occasion for two reasons: it was the first ever World Championship Grand Prix, carrying the title of the European Grand Prix; and the event was graced by the presence of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – the first and only time a reigning monarch has attended a motor race in Britain.
In 1952, the RAC decided it no longer wished to run the circuit, and on January 1st the lease was taken on by the British Racing Drivers' Club, with James Brown continuing as track manager. The lease covered only the perimeter track and other areas at specific times. From 1955, the Grand Prix was alternated between Aintree and Silverstone, until 1964 when Brands Hatch took over as the alternative venue. By the time the Grand Prix returned to Silverstone in 1956, Mercedes-Benz had gone, as had Lancia as an independent entrant, the cars having been handed to Scuderia Ferrari, who ran them as ‘Lancia-Ferraris’. The last race at Aintree was in 1962, when Briton Jim Clark won his first of 5 British Grand Prix's; Aintree was later decommissioned in 1964.
1964 saw the first Formula One race at the southern English circuit known as Brands Hatch, located in Kent, just outside of London. The track was built in the early 1950s and had been extended in 1960. Silverstone hosted the British Grand Prix in odd-numbered years and Brands Hatch in even-numbered years. The continued until 1986, but Brands Hatch's demise was for political reasons; the international motorsports governing body at the time, FISA, had instituted a policy of long-term contracts for one circuit per Grand Prix. Brands Hatch was perceived as a poorer facility, and it did have very little run-off and room to expand, something Silverstone had in acres. Silverstone and the BRDC had signed a seven-year contract with Formula 1 and FISA to run the British Grand Prix from 1987 to 1993.
The Silverstone contract was continually extended until 2008, it was announced that Donington Park had been awarded the contract to host the British Grand Prix for 10 years from 2010. However, Donington failed to secure the necessary funding to host the race, and its contract was terminated in November 2009. On 7 December 2009, Silverstone signed a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards.