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The British Grand Prix is one of the most historic in the calendar, as it has been held in all 74 of the championship’s seasons. Silverstone has hosted Formula 1 58 times, including the very first World Championship race, back in 1950. Ahead of this Sunday’s British Grand Prix, let’s revisit some of the best race in the venue.
1987 British Grand Prix
Only seven hundredths of a second split the two Williams cars in qualifying, with Nelson Piquet getting the better of his teammate for the first time in the season. However, both were staring at the rear wing of Alain Prost for the first few laps, as the McLaren breezed past from fourth on the grid.
Piquet and Mansell did not waste time behind him and got through very quickly to pull away from the rest of the field. Piquet was in front and, in a sudden change of strategy, Mansell made a change of tyres with 29 laps to go. He had 28 seconds to make up and with three laps to go his was right on his teammate’s tail. He made a daring dummy move and overtook Piquet to claim the lead, as fans at Silverstone erupted with joy.
Mansell ran all the final laps in the qualifying mode of the engine and it expired as soon as he crossed the line. However, the victory was Mansell’s, two seconds from his rival and teammate. Ayrton Senna was third and Satoru Nakajima came from twelfth to ensure that Honda locked out the top four positions of the race, after Prost retired due to mechanical trouble.
1998 British Grand Prix
Mika Hakkinen dominated on Saturday at Silverstone, as he beat Michael Schumacher by four and a half tenths of a second. Jacques Villeneuve had a surprisingly good result in third, as he put his Williams in front of David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine.
The cars lined up on the grid in very wet conditions and Hakkinen held his lead through the first corners, followed by Schumacher and Coulthard. A few laps later, the Scot took second position. Late in the race, the rain intensified and, after multiple spins (including one for Coulthard), the safety car came out. Hakkinen was fifth seconds ahead of the field, but his lead was erased. The action resumed on lap 50 and two laps later the Finn spun, making Schumacher the leader.
Shockingly, two laps before the finish, Schumacher was given a ten-second stop-go penalty for lapping Giancarlo Fisichella under safety car conditions. Ferrari played the strategy game and called Schumacher to serve his penalty on the last lap, effectively crossing the line before stopping in his box, with a gap of 22 seconds to Hakkinen. McLaren protested, but Ferrari defended itself; The rules stated that the team must be informed of any penalty within 25 minutes of the incident, which did not happen in this occasion, and they were informed via a hand-written note, which did not specify what penalty was given.
Initially, Schumacher was given a post-race penalty of ten seconds, which was then retracted because post-race penalties could only be given for incidents that happened in the last twelve laps of a race. Anyway, Schumacher was the winner at Silverstone, with Hakkinen second and Irvine completing the podium.
2008 British Grand Prix
Heikki Kovalainen was able to record a great lap in qualifying and that helped him secure his first F1 pole. Mark Webber was half a second back, but still impressed by qualifying second, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton, who was eight tenths behind his teammate.
The track was soaked on Sunday and Hamilton got away with a fantastic launch. Having passed Webber and Räikkönen instantly, he had a look on his teammate for the lead. However, Kovalainen kept P1 with a brave move on the outside of Copse. Webber became the first of many drivers to spin, with Massa doing the same later in the first lap. On lap five, Hamilton passed Kovalainen and took the lead. The poleman then spun and Räikkönen took second. Hamilton and Räikkönen pitted together, the former getting new tyres and the latter staying with his old set. It proved to be the wrong choice for Ferrari.
For Lewis Hamilton it had been a scintillating drive in the wet. While most of the field struggled and spun, he dominated his home race at Silverstone and triumphed by over a minute. Heidfeld was second after pulling off many spectacular moves, while Barrichello took a surprising third-place finish for Honda, his first since 2005. It came after making the correct decision to pit for full wet tyres when the rain intensified. The rest were lapped, beginning with Räikkönen in fourth and Kovalainen in fifth. Felipe Massa spun multiple times and finished two laps down, in thirteenth.
2018 British Grand Prix
In a fantastic battle for pole at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton took pole position, beating Sebastian Vettel by four hundredths of a second. Kimi Räikkönen was very close too and qualified third. Valtteri Bottas was fourth and the Red Bulls started from row three, with Max Verstappen ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton had a bad launch and Vettel overtook him immediately. Things got worse for the poleman, as Bottas went through at the first corner and Räikkönen made a move at Turn 3. The Ferrari driver understeered into Hamilton, which put the Brit in last place and earned the Finn a penalty. The polesitter recovered quickly and was back up to sixth by lap eleven. On lap 32, after all the leaders stopped once, Marcus Ericsson crashed and brought out the safety car.
Bottas and Hamilton stayed out on their medium tyres, while Vettel, Verstappen and Räikkönen pitted for new softs. The German restarted between the Silver Arrows with fifteen laps remaining. Half a lap later, a crash between Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean brought the safety car back. The final restart took place with ten laps remaining. After multiple failed attempts, with just five laps to go, Vettel made a decisive move to take the lead. Bottas’ pace disappeared and was overtaken by both Hamilton and Raikkonen over the next two laps.
Vettel pulled away and emerged victorious for the fourth time in 2018. The defending champion was second after his first lap incident and Räikkönen was on the podium as well. Bottas faded completely at the end of the race and finished fourth, just ahead of Ricciardo. Verstappen was passed by Räikkönen at the final restart and then retired with a brake-by-wire issue.
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