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Classic British Grand Prix highlights

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Andrew Benson | 09:19 UK time, Wednesday, 17 June 2009

It was never really in doubt which race we would end up choosing as our classic British Grand Prix pick - Nigel Mansell's brilliant victory in 1987 stands out from the crowd.

Although we had rich pickings with events in 1981, 1998, 2003 and 2008, it was the overwhelming popular pick among respondents to this blog, and no wonder.

It was a brilliant drive by Mansell, the one where he truly consolidated his place in the hearts of the Silverstone crowd and the British public at large.

This was the beginning of the phenomenon that came to be dubbed as "Mansell mania", although it was not his first win in his home race.

In fact, it was his third in a row. His maiden Formula 1 victory had come towards the end of 1985 in the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, and he won the British Grand Prix at the same circuit in July the following year.

In fact, Mansell's victories in 1986 and 1987, although at different tracks, shared many attributes - they both came in a fight with Williams-Honda team-mate Nelson Piquet, and they both came as a result of an overtaking manoeuvre on the Brazilian that sent the British crowd into raptures.

Impressive though the 1986 win was, though, 1987 is the one that truly sticks in the minds of F1 fans the world over.

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Watch short highlights of the 1981 British Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1987 British Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1998 British Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2003 British Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2008 British Grand Prix

(The races will be available to watch on the red button on satellite and cable from 2pm on Thursday until 9am on Friday. Unfortunately, there is no available bandwidth on Freeview).

Alain Prost took the lead at the start in his McLaren, following a superb start from fourth on the grid, but the great Frenchman was soon overwhelmed by the Williams drivers, who proceeded to drive away into a race of their own, with pole-sitter Piquet in the lead.

Initially able to stay with the Brazilian, as the race neared half-distance Mansell slowly began to drop away, troubled by a wheel vibration. His team, who had planned for both cars to go through the race without stopping, called him into the pits for a new set of rubber.

He rejoined 29 seconds behind Piquet with 28 laps to go, and all hope of a home win appeared lost.

But Mansell got his head down and began a recovery charge that has gone down in F1 folklore.

By this stage in their partnership at Williams, it was well known that Mansell and Piquet did not get along.

Piquet had joined Williams in 1986 as a two-time world champion and with number one status guaranteed in his contract, but it soon became clear that not only did Mansell have no intention of playing second fiddle but that he was more than capable of handling Piquet on the track.

And as Mansell's superiority grew, the relationship between the two men worsened, with Piquet resorting to personal attacks and underhand tactics in an unsuccessful attempt to destabilise his rival.

Of course, this simply heightened the Silverstone crowd's dislike of Piquet and made them all the more keen for Mansell to prevail. And, willed on by his cheering fans, Mansell began to tear chunks out of Piquet's lead, until by lap 58 of 65 he was on his team-mate's tail.

Realising he had to strike quickly to make the most of his momentum, Mansell made his move.

Down the Hangar Straight on lap 59, he was in Piquet's slipstream, and this was where he pulled off one of the great overtaking manoeuvres of all time.

With Piquet beginning to defend the inside line as they headed towards Stowe, Mansell dummied left, tricking Piquet into heading back to the outside of the track. As he did so, Mansell then dived to the inside, fending off a lunge from Piquet and completing a brilliant move to the roars of the crowd.

That seemed to be that but, unbeknown to the spectators, in the cockpit of his Williams, Mansell was beginning to think it might all have been for nothing.

These were the days when F1 cars had a maximum fuel allowance, and the read-out in his Williams was showing empty for the final two laps.

The car did finally run out - but only after Mansell had crossed the line. And as he crawled to a halt, his car was engulfed by the crowd.

"It was a hell of a race, a hell of a fight and a good dummy," Mansell says in a revealing interview in F1 Racing magazine this month.

"I broke the lap record 11 times in the last 15 laps - you don't look at a pit board telling you to slow down because of fuel when you're driving your arse off and trying to win a grand prix. It was a fantastic comeback and the crowd loved it."

It was the consummation of a love affair that lasted until Mansell's retirement in 1992.

In that period, Mansell became synonymous with Silverstone. A year later, he drove brilliantly in the wet in the under-powered Williams-Judd to finish second behind Ayrton Senna. In 1989, now at Ferrari, he was second to Prost's superior McLaren.

In 1990, the Frenchman having joined him at the Italian team, he was romping away in the lead when his Ferrari failed. Disillusioned, Mansell theatrically threw his gloves and balaclava into the crowd as he his walked back to the pits and then announced his retirement. Then, tempted back by Williams, he dominated the race in 1991 and 1992.

He set the fastest lap in every one of those races between 1987 and 1992. It is little wonder, then, that more than 200,000 people crammed into Silverstone to watch his final, dominant, victory before his home crowd, just two races before he finally clinched the world title.

The Silverstone crowd are great supporters of current drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. But, so far, no-one has entered their hearts in the manner of the moustachioed Midlander.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Maybe I'm jumping the gun, but there's no link to the extended highlights above.

    Here's the full length 1987 highlights link: The caption says it's the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, which should be fixed.

    Hopefully 1981 is to follow!

  • Comment number 2.

    It was a mega driving performance no doubt, but would Piquet have won if he had have come in for tyres? It seemed like a tactical mistake.

    Will 1981 also have a full highlights programme like we've had for the 2nd best pre-97 race for other circuits/nations?

  • Comment number 3.

    Where are the extended highlights, and why has the day changed to thursday.

    And isnt there any change if putting it on freeview on sunday before the race?

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm absolutely gutted this is not on Freeview.

    Watching it off the internet will do little to please me.

    I was really looking forward to this as I've been recording the full Grand Prix highlights as the digital TV transfer is top notch.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great to see more coveraage from the BBC of classic races however the lack of freeview is an annoyance. I don't think the BBC realise the importance of classic races to fans... They could probably sell DVDs and downloads of the classic races among other F1 goodies they have in their archives... Can't help but think you guys are missing a trick there.

    Must not grumble though, I suppose this is still great to see even if it is only over the internet.

    Thanks again... Good work - despite my grumbles.


  • Comment number 6.

    For me, the BEST thing about supporting Mansell was that you just knew he would gain his best possible result with the equipment he had. I enjoy the same feeling now from Jenson - but not so Hill, Coulthard and frequently Hamilton.

  • Comment number 7.

    I hope we are having the full 1981 highlights race as well - please say we are, please please please....

  • Comment number 8.

    What? but hang on a minute though, The BBC has done this in the past...
    Normally it's been on the red button service on a Tuesday but I'm sure Turkey race highlights arrived on the digital service on thursday?

    It's a pity if they don't get covered on the red button but the Practice sessions loop that goes on there is top notch! Last year ITV turned the coverage in to the Hamilton show (I'm Sorry but they did) and this year it's on the BBC and they havn't turned F1 into the Button show, the BBC's job of covering F1 has been fantastic. It's a shame there are only two British drivers this year but I think they will both receive 50% of the attention this time around. It would be so nice to see Button win and to anyone who's lucky enough to go to Silverstone enjoy it!! I envy YOU!

  • Comment number 9.

    For those of you wanting to watch the Classic F1 on the red button on digital and satellite they are now available to watch on the sport multiscreen. This is the short highlights of 1981, 1998, 2003 and 2008 and the full "Grand Prix" programme for 1987.

    As Andrew mentioned, unfortunately due to lack of bandwidth there is not going to be a chance for viewers on Freeview to have this option this time. The two channels the BBC has for extra content on Freeview are shared with other departments and with Twenty20 cricket and the Confederations Cup on this week and with linited availability in the first place that unfortunately means no room for Classic F1.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks Mike. So no 2nd BBC highlights programme this round? I guess 1981 didn't receive that many votes.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why can't you just put the classic F1 on BBC1, 2, 3 or 4 in the middle of the night when realistically, few people watch TV, giving the Freeview people the chance to record the highlights and watch at a more suitable date, surely, firstly most people would be looking to record the highlights anyway to add to their own collection, and secondly, there is bound to be some time free. Most night time programmes are repeats anyway, so surely 1hr30 can be found somewhere to show the races before the weekend.

    Some more great ideas:
    - Can you open up the archives and let us have a classic F1 web page, or at least a DVD of some other classic races.

    Questions to BBC.
    - Because there have only been 5 races in Turkey and this is a 5 year contract, will we have exactly the same selection as this year + this year's race?
    - Due to the rights restrictions, does it mean that we won't have any 2001 or 2002 races available?
    - Because I grew up watching F1 in the 2000's I have most of these races on VHS. Would it be possible in future to focus on the older generation of races rather than last year's and other recent races?
    - Can more references to these races be made during the BBC broadcasting team?
    - I noticed on the circuit guide for the nurburgring that there was a really old 50's race highlights. Are extended highlights for this race available and are there many more from that era or a similar one?

    Appreciate the videos,
    Simon Hull

  • Comment number 12.

    Mike, thanks for getting them up early. You're consistently getting them broadcast ahead of schedule which is great.

    However, can we please have some clearer communication on this blog. Are we voting for 1 full length highlights, 2, or does it vary? To ask us to take the time to participate, it's only fair to give us the full picture.

    Simon: I believe there are issues with 2001 and 2002 because Radio Five Live used the F1 Digital+ super signal, which was a pay per view service. Between 1996 and 2002, this service offered a different feed to what you saw on ITV. Unfortunately, FOM do not tend to include the rights for this in new contracts and I suspect that the only method that the BBC have for 2001/2002 is to manually add World Feed pictures. They get around this for 1997-2000 by using ITV footage and audio, but are unable or unwilling to do so for the following two seasons.

    With regard to old highlights, the BBC commenced covering F1 fully in 1978. Prior to that coverage is sporadic, ITV actually showed more F1 in the mid 1970s than the BBC. There are also copyright issues with old material. The BBC have a contract with Formula One Management (FOM), but they only control the copyright of F1 races from 1981 onwards. Prior to that, there are many different owners.

    Even if the BBC wanted to open their archives and sell DVDs, they won't have the rights from FOM to do so. The FOM archive is far more extensive than the BBC's, but their fees are enormous.

  • Comment number 13.

    Added onto what simon said, bbc3 and bbc4 don;t start till 7pm so surely they can be shown on one of those channels during the day.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi all,

    For those looking for the extended highlights of 1987 - that is the embedded video in the blog.



  • Comment number 15.

    Toybota, the CBBC channels use the bandwith used for BBC3 and 4 during the day.

  • Comment number 16.

    Classic F1 seems to be on Sky now. Does anyone know how to hide the Blue menu button on the top right of the screen? I wanted to record the 1987 race.

  • Comment number 17.

    No '81

    No Freeview

    Another VERY disappointed licence fee payer.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just want to add my disgust to everyone else's that classic F1 isn't on Freeview.
    Freeview channels do share capacity that's true - but there's no excuse for not showing overnight or even just once.
    Many of us have Hard Disc Recorders (PVR's) for Freeview so don't mind things being shown overnight. 301 and 302 are recordable on Freeview.
    I've recorded several classics this way then copied them over to DVD for races I attended.
    You could use some of the Qualifying loop repeat time.
    And talking of Qualifying loops - you could continue coverage live on that feed (even on Freeview) when BBC1 has to leave and miss the post Qualifying interviews, before starting showing the loop and classics. Your Freeview Red Button surely doesn't have to exactly match Freesat,Sky and Cable? Freeviewers are your largest/core audience.
    Come on BBC - overall you're doing a fantastic job - but that's making the botches stand out more....

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm so disappointed that this isn't on Freeview :( I'd been looking forward to the classic British Grands Prix on the red button ever since the Australian GP when I realised the BBC would be doing this service. I've had fun with my family speculating which classic British GPs would be chosen! Now we have the answer (some good choices by the way), but sadly we can't see them or video them. (And we can't watch all of them on the internet because it would use up practically our months internet allowance in one go!).

    Disappointing BBC, very disappointing.

  • Comment number 20.

    Why cant the BBC just play it once, because i also have a recorder, which it appears lots of us have. 301 was empty when i checked it earlier, so why not show it once.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why cant the BBC just put the ITV commentary on the races that were on ITV?
    Legard was terrible on Radio and is terrible on TV.
    Why cant we listen to Muzza & Martin or James & Martin, listening to Legard all the time is terrible!

  • Comment number 22.

    Come on Andrew, please beg the BBC to reconsider - if there was one 'Classic F1' package that should be made available to ALL digital TV platforms, this is it. One of the Freeview streams (302?) is showing looped Comedy extra of Mitchell & Webb which has been on the last few days - I can't see their fans and CBBC extra disappointed on missing out on this facility for 1-2 days - I seem to recall the Genius Comedy extra clips making way for other stuff on occasion. At the very least please do what you did for the Spanish Classic F1, show it before the race build-up.

    In the words of Del Trotter "Come on, you know it makes sense!"

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm rather disappointed with your highlights as it doesn't have my absolute favourite British GP which was 1995 (if my memory serves me correctly) when Johnny Herbert won in a Benetton(?).

    Seeing the underdog win is a British obsession and seeing him hoisted on the shoulders of the other two drivers was just great television

  • Comment number 24.

    Andrew, if you've only been following Formula 1 for 16 years then I assume you've had to rely on research for the story of Piquet v Mansell. If so, then it is a pity you've relied on the xenophobic gutter press for your information.

    Mansell won more races, but didn't win the championship in 86 or 87 - Piquet did. Mansell was contracted as No. 2 driver, and Piquet (having signed a contract guaranteeing No. 1 status) was entitled to expect Williams to adhere to that contract. Mansell even had the chief designer as his race engineer! Mansell took unwise risks, which Piquet (using his experience) was able to profit from.

    In the 1986 British GP Piquet missed a gear change with Mansell right behind him. Being a sportsman, Piquet held his line on the straight and thus allowed Mansell to overtake. Later in the race Mansell came out of the pits on cold tyres and weaved from side to side for a lap and a half to stop his team-mate from passing, almost taking both off in the process. Pretty good example of "underhand tactics" if you ask me!

    Piquet developed the Active Suspension system in 86/87 which was introduced to great effect in mid-87 - Mansell specifically refused to have anything to do with this, and as soon as he realised that it gave Piquet an advantage he began whinging to the press about Honda providing Piquet with better engines! A clear attempt to cover up his lack of techinical knowledge with a smokescreen of lies and innuendo.

    As for the "resorting to personal attacks and underhand tactics in an unsuccessful attempt to destabalise his rival" - please! Perhaps you'd like to elaborate? Perhaps you are referring to the Playboy interview from late 1987? If so, then this was AFTER Piquet had left Williams, so for you to try to portray this as an attempt to destabalise his team-mate is disingenuous at hest and downright misleading at worst.

    Perhaps you'd also like to elaborate on the "underhand tactics" you accuse Piquet of employing? I've pointed out Mansell's - give me a single example of such behaviour from Piquet in 86 or 87.

    I expect better from the BBC than this kind of jingoism. The facts are out there and easy to find - please do so in future and provide fair and accurate reporting, instead of the Mary Poppins version you've written above!

  • Comment number 25.

    Andrew Benson wrote:

    "The races will be available to watch on the red button on satellite and cable from 2pm on Thursday until 9am on Friday."


    I was able to watch all the races yestersday (Wednesday) on satellite 'under' the red button. So you don't need to wait until 2pm today as Andrew states.

    Another point. To describe events in 1981, 1998, 2003 and 2008 and "rich pickings" is a bit over the top. No wonder the events of the 1987 GP came out on top.

  • Comment number 26.


    What the hell is the matter with everyone? Moaning moaning that it's not on Freeview or other classic's haven't been chosen. Just be grateful with what you have and stop being greeding by demanding that there should be more. I tell you what, I have a better idea. Let's go back to the dark days of ITV's coverage and see what happens then, eh? Oh, tht's right, there won't even be an option to see anything at all. Plus, those wonderful adverts that we so used to enjoy. thinks Exiled_Highlander is a Piquet fan! But it is true that it wasn't all Piquet destabising the team. Mansell wasn't the greatest team mate of all time. When Berger left Ferrari at the end of 1989 and had a chat with his new teammate Senna, Senna warned Berger that he didn't want a turbulent relationship like the one he'd just had with Prost. Berger response, "And you think Mansell was easy to get on with?" Rumours are also abound that Mansell was the reason that Mario Andretti retired after being his teammate in the Indycars.

    And I think the attack on Andrew was unjustified.

  • Comment number 27.

    I really like what you are doing, but I think more consistency is needed, becasue it seems co change every week and communication and reasons arent really given properly and people get annoyed because they expect consistency from the BBC. This isnt some small company.

  • Comment number 28.


    Mansell was never #2. Piquet threw his toys out the pram because he had quicker team mate a la Alonso and Hamilton and Mansell challenged the notion and got Williams to prepare equal cars.

    Williams did away with team orders after Carlos Reutimann disobeyed team orders and overtook Alan Jones. Williams didn't like the idea of sorting out lovers' tiff and left it down to drivers.

    Mansell hated the active suspension because it broke down in testing and racing. Patrick Head insisted on carrying on developing during Grand Prix weekends, Mansell insisted on only using it in testing.

    Not sure how one defines 'underhand tactics' but Piquet played mind games with Mansell and kept his cards close to his chest. He would never fully reveal the ideal set ups during debriefs.

    Mansell is my all time hero, a fantastic racer and also rounded human being.

    Yes Mansell was a moaner and could be very brash and abrasive behind the scenes but he had stiff lesson into what makes an F1 champion. Mansell insisted on #1 status and played the same mind games/underhand tactics when he returned to Williams in 1991.

    What pities me is that during his time at Williams, Piquet turned from hero to villain. He is more remembered for throwing his toys out and calling Mrs Mansell ugly instead of his calculating brain a la Prost and was fanstastic racer - though probably not quite as good as Mansell - 1981 German GP with his titanic duel with Alan Jones showed he was one of the very best.

  • Comment number 29.

    I must say I am extremely disappointed it's not on Freeview, and what really sticks the knife in is that they're showing sports news loop on 302 right now, which is a complete waste of time and space if you ask me, and I'm sure many others. I don't see the point of broadcasting the same five or six non stories repeatedly for hours on end, when we could be watching classic f1. Also, it looks like there'll be more channels available for freeview red button; 303, 304 and 305 appeared on my program listings last night.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am also not pleased that it isn't on Freeview. As the Sport News can also be watched on the News Multiscreen, so is it really needed on both?

    @ McLarenDan
    Freeview channel 303 is data for BBC red button while 305 carries sound for news multiscreen. I'm not sure what 304 does.

  • Comment number 31.

    And what makes it worse, they arent even they even read what we think?

  • Comment number 32.

    I dont get 304

  • Comment number 33.

    Hmm 304 has disappeared from my screen, unless I was seeing things.

  • Comment number 34.

    i still hold the view that if mansell had all the backing that prost and senna did then we would have had one of the greatest champions in f1 history.Of course nigel moaned about the cars and teams but wouldnt you if you knew you had what it takes to win.
    His charging style was what made every single f1 fan's hairs stand up on the back of the neck. And when he crossed to america in a car he didnt know and tracks he had never raced on mansell still came out on top first time of asking.
    Mansell was brilliant and we should ever forget that.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'd just like to echo Senor's comments in #26... seems like the BBC are getting it in the neck for providing highlights far more than they're getting appreciation and gratitude for showing they've had some ideas about their F1 coverage. Amazing...! And I'm no blinkered supporter of the BBC as anyone that's seen my motoGP comments will attest to!

    Exiled_Highlander - #24 LOL! Are we really to take your word for it that Piquet is innocent of any pyschological or otherwise tricks on his team-mate and that Mansell was the only terror in the Williams team? Ha - your post is about as biased as you say Andrew's blog is... I wonder if perhaps Mansell stole your girlfriend off you when you were younger...?!

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh Murray's look at 80s F1 tech. Reminds me of when I stick a plastic tube on the indicator to make it more accsessable but occasionally wind up knocking the horn!

    One hell of a comeback from Mansell!


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