Northampton

Silverstone celebrates 70 years since first Grand Prix

Silverstone from above. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The self-declared "home of British motor racing" hosted its first British Grand Prix on 2 October 1948

It is 70 years since Silverstone, a former RAF base, hosted its first British Grand Prix, on 2 October 1948.

An estimated 100,000 people turned up to watch the event, held on a circuit marked by hay bales and ropes.

After spells alternating with Aintree and Brands Hatch, it has been the British Grand Prix's permanent home since 1987.

But the race's future is uncertain, as Silverstone's contract to host it ends after next year's event.

The British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns the circuit, is struggling with the financial cost of hosting it and negotiations with Formula 1 are still ongoing.

RAF Silverstone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The former World War II Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone, was chosen for the circuit because of its central location in England
Eventual winner Luigi Villoresi leads Scuderia Ambrosiana team-mate Alberto Ascari in the 1948 British Grand Prix Image copyright PA
Image caption The first British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1948 was won by Italian driver Luigi Villoresi ahead of his Scuderia Ambrosiana team-mate Alberto Ascari

Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton on Tuesday, the circuit's managing director Stuart Pringle said he "remains optimistic" of a new deal.

"The good news is that they [Liberty Media, F1's new owners] are on record as saying they want to continue to have a British Grand Prix at Silverstone," he added.

"And we are absolutely committed to trying to have one if we can possibly afford it. As always with these things it's a small commercial disagreement."

King George VI Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption King George VI at the maiden F1 world championship at Silverstone in 1950 - the only time a reigning monarch has attended a race
BRM driver Frolian Gonzalez leading the pack at the 1954 Grand Prix, followed close behind by Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption BRM driver Frolian Gonzalez leading the pack at the 1954 Grand Prix, followed close behind by Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn

Silverstone by numbers

  • 1950 - Year that Silverstone hosted the first race of the modern F1 era
  • 52 - Grand Prix held at the circuit, third overall behind the Italian Grand Prix at Monza (68) and Monaco Grand Prix (65)
  • 150,000 - Crowd capacity at the Northamptonshire venue
  • 3.660 - F1 course length in miles (5.891km)
  • 1:25:892 - Time of the fastest lap of the current circuit configuration, by Britain's Lewis Hamilton at the 2018 British Grand Prix
Damon Hill, aged six. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Future Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill, aged six, using a periscope to watch his father Graham Hill racing at Silverstone in 1967
James Hunt winning the British Grand Prix in 1977 Image copyright PA
Image caption James Hunt won the British Grand Prix driving a McLaren in 1977, the year after he was crowned world champion
Nigel Mansell sheltering from the rain at Silverstone in 1985 Image copyright PA
Image caption Nigel Mansell sheltering from the rain at Silverstone in 1985 - the British driver won his home Grand Prix at Silverstone three times, in 1987, 1991 and 1992, as well as once at Brand Hatch

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Ayrton Senna. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Three-time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna pictured at Silverstone in 1993, a year before his death at the age of 34
Williams-Renault driver Damon Hill on the podium with Princess Diana after he won the 1994 Grand Prix. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Williams-Renault driver Damon Hill - now a few years older than six - on the podium with Princess Diana after he won the 1994 Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won at Silverstone four years in a row from 2014, and celebrated in 2016 by crowd surfing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lewis Hamilton won at Silverstone four years in a row from 2014, and celebrated in 2016 by crowd surfing
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and the Red Arrows display team at the 2018 Silverstone Grand Prix. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Red Arrows display team performed at the 2018 Grand Prix

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