A history of the British Grand Prix

The history of the British Grand Prix goes back to 1926 when Henry Segrave organised the first event, after interest was raised following his win in the 1923 French Grand Prix. The first event, held at Brooklands, was won by the French team of Louis Wagner and Robert Senechal driving a Delage 155B. Only three cars finished the race.

When the F1 world championship kicked off in 1950 the UK was an obvious choice for the inaugural race and the airfield circuit at Silverstone provided an ideal venue. The first race was won by Nino Farina driving an Alfa Romeo.

The Northamptonshire venue remained the home for the race until 1955 when it started to share hosting duties with Aintree. Aintree hosted back-to-back races in 1961 and 1962 and then the event alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch. In 1987 the race returned to its permanent home of Silverstone.

Prior to its modification in 1991 Silverstone was one of the fastest tracks on the F1 calendar. 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg held the all-time F1 qualifying lap record for 16 years, after posting an average speed of 160.92mph in 1985.

With a strong British presence in the sport the British Grand Prix has always been one to win and the race has produced numerous home-bred winners, most notably Jim Clark, who won five times between 1962 and 1967. Home favourite Nigel Mansell won the race four times, David Coulthard and Jackie Stewart twice, and six others, including Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton, have all won once. Stirling Moss has won the race once on his own in 1955 and once in 1957 when he shared the drive with Tony Brooks.

In 2003 a row erupted between the circuit owners, the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) and the FIA over improvements required at the track. In October 2004 the British Grand Prix was left off the provisional calendar for 2005 when the BRDC refused to pay the fee for the race demanded by Ecclestone. After lengthy negotiations a deal was reached, keeping the race at Silverstone until 2009.

Donington signed a contract in a deal that would move the event to Donington Park from 2010. Donington, which had only ever hosted the European Grand Prix in 1993, needed extensive renovations in order to bring it up to the standard required from a modern F1 venue, estimated to cost £135million. In October 2009 the circuit's operators Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL) announced they had failed in their attempts to raise the funds and would not be able to host the event.

Ecclestone offered the race contract to Silverstone but bitter arguments about money raged once more, with the F1 chief unwilling to offer a concession to the circuit.

Claire Furnell

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