• Top Ten - Silverstone grands prix

The best of British

Alan Henry July 5, 2010

Alan Henry calls on his 40 years of experience as a Formula One journalist to pick his top 10 grands prix at Silverstone.

Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart vie for position © Sutton Images
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1969: Stewart and Rindt wheel-to-wheel
This was one of the most gripping and truly sensational of races ever to be staged at Silverstone, still an event which is talked about with great passion and enthusiasm 40 years later. Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt were regarded with some justification as amongst the finest of their era and were genuinely close friends. But that friendship was put on hold as they battled wheel-to-wheel for 84 laps of the 2.9-mile circuit with Stewart's Matra MS80 and Rindt's Lotus 49C swapping the lead repeatedly. Eventually Rindt had to pit with a loose wing endplate and subsequently made a second stop to top up with fuel, handing the Scot an easy win.

1973: Revson proves his class
Jody Scheckter hit the headlines in this event, in fact he exploded to the top of every newspaper front page after spinning his McLaren M23 coming out of Woodcote corner on the opening lap of the race, triggering a multiple pile-up which understandably resulted in the race being flagged to a halt. At the restart Peter Revson, the popular and underrated American driver, stamped his unobtrusive and well-judged domination on the event, holding sway at the head of a four car battle to beat Ronnie Peterson's Lotus 72, Denny Hulme's McLaren M23 and the emergent James Hunt's Hesketh March 761 in a tight quarter covered by barely four seconds.

1957: Collins take his final victory
Although Stirling Moss grabbed pole position for Vanwall, this turned out to be a two-horse race for close friends and Ferrari team-mates Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn. On this occasion Collins had the measure of his pal, handling the works Dino 246 with commendable assurance to notch up and unflurried Maranello 1-2 on the drivers' home patch. But it was Roy Salvadori's third place in the works Cooper-Climax which rammed home the prevailing message of the time, namely the days of the front-engined F1 car were indeed numbered.

1965: Clark takes his fourth
This was the final British GP to take place under the 1.5-litre F1 regulations and was noteworthy for two key factors. It was Jim Clark's fourth straight British GP win for Lotus and marked the British debut of the new Honda in the hands of Richie Ginther; the American driver qualifying the Japanese machine on the front row of the grid and leading the race as far as Stowe corner on the opening lap. From then on, it was Jimmy all the way, his Lotus slowed only in the closing stages by flickering oil pressure, but his legendary gentle touch saw him nurse the car home for another win ahead of Graham Hill's BRM.

James Hunt celebrates on the podium © Sutton Images
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1977: Hunt dominates at home
This was a race in which it looked as though James Hunt would have his work seriously cut out if he was to do well, not least because he was driving the tricky McLaren M26 rather than the user-friendly M23 which had carried him to the previous year's title crown. Sure enough, in the opening stages John Watson had the legs of him at the wheel of Bernie Ecclestone's flat-12 Alfa-engined Brabham BT45, but this fine performance from the Ulsterman was blighted by a fuel pick-up problem, allowing Hunt to romp home ahead of Niki Lauda's brake-troubled Ferrari.

1960: Graham Hill out of luck
This was a race made memorable by the searing pace set by Graham Hill's BRM for much of the race, the mustachioed Londoner leading until a few laps from the finish when he spun off while lapping some slower cars under pressure from the wily Jack Brabham, who was thus able to score another good win for Cooper. Not only did this race showcase Hill's rising star, it did much the same for the brilliant John Surtees who finished a magnificent second on his Grand Prix debut, bringing his Lotus 18 past the chequered flag ahead of his more seasoned team-mate Innes Ireland.

1987: Mansell shows his class
The intra-team rivalry between Williams-Honda team-mates Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet was a highlight of the 1986 and 87 seasons, but reached its competitive zenith during the 1987 British GP on Silverstone's wide open spaces. Piquet led from the start with Mansell initially keeping pace, but increasingly troubled by a front wheel vibration caused by a lost balance weight. When Nigel pitted at the end of lap 35 for fresh tyres - with 30 left to go - it seemed as though there would be no way he could possibly make up the 28 second deficit. But he did just that and double-bluffed Piquet out of the lead with a brilliant slice past at Stowe corner at 180mph on the penultimate lap.

1983: Prost bids for championship
Alain Prost did not manage to win the 1983 world championship, but his pace and fitness at the wheel of the works Renault RE40 in torrid conditions at Silverstone saw him see off an early challenge from the Ferraris of Patrick Tambay and Rene Arnoux as well as the Brabham-BMW of Nelson Piquet to take one of his most memorable victories. Mansell was also one of the stars of the show, demonstrating great determination to finish fourth in the promising new Lotus 94T on its debut outing.

2000: Great day for DC
This was the year in which the grand prix weekend was ruined by torrential rain and flooded car parks. The race was led in the early stages by Ferrari's new number two Rubens Barrichello, but it eventually came down to a superb all-McLaren battle between Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. The Scot eventually prevailed over his colleague by just over a second after one of his very best F1 performances. Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was third ahead of brother Ralf's Williams-BMW.

2008: Lewis proves it's true
He may have qualified only a lowly fourth in his McLaren, but Lewis Hamilton rocketed into an immediate second place behind team-mate Heikki Kovalainen as the pack hurtled into a soaking Copse corner on the opening lap. Hamilton took five laps before swooping past his team-mate to grab the lead at Stowe mid-way round lap five, after which the story was pretty much over. Hamilton utterly dominated the afternoon from then on.

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Alan Henry is a journalist at the Guardian and author Alan has been reporting on F1 since 1973 since when he has covered more than 600 Grands Prix and written more than 40 books on motorsport subjects. Currently a columnist for the Guardian and Autocar, he has edited the prestigious AUTOCOURSE annual for 20 years and contributed to a wide variety of publications across the world