Your favourite Silverstone memory

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button chases Jacques Villeneuve in the 2003 British Grand Prix
Jenson Button chases Jacques Villeneuve in the 2003 British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix this weekend is set to be the last at Silverstone.

I’m going to be doing an interview for BBC Radio 5 for their Sunday programming about the track’s final Grand Prix, and they want to talk about people’s memories of F1 at Silverstone.

So, what’s your favourite Silverstone moment? Have you been to the track for the Grand Prix?

The world championship began at the circuit in 1950 and since then Silverstone has held 42 rounds of the championship – more than any other circuit bar Monza and Monte-Carlo.

Although it took seven Grands Prix before Silverstone finally greeted a home winner – Peter Collins for Ferrari in 1958 – since then they’re come thick and fast.

Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell were both triple-winners at the track – Mansell setting fastest lap on every visit to the track from 1987 to 1992. The most prolific winner, however, was not English but French – Alain Prost, winner in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1993.

There have been some crazy races, too. The 1973 Grand Prix was red-flagged after Jody Scheckter spun at Woodcote on lap one, triggering a multi-car crash that blocked the straight.

Two years on the red flags came out again as a late downpour sent cars spinning off in all directions. Carlos Pace, Jody Scheckter, James Hunt and Mark Donohue all crashed – but because of the stoppage were classified second, third, fourth and fifth (Emerson Fittipaldi won).

My Silverstone memories

Perhaps the strangest Grand Prix was the one I saw at the track in 2003. Two appearances of the safety car threw the race into disarray – the first because David Coulthard’s car had shed its cockpit shroud, and the second when a man ran onto the circuit towards the cars…

Mercifully no-one was hurt – but another shuffling of the running order left the most competitive runners stuck at the back. In a virtuoso performance, Rubens Barrichello clawed his way to the front of the field quicker than anyone else and sealed a memorable win.

Of my own memories of Silverstone – this weekend is my sixth visit for the Grand Prix – the first time sticks in my mind especially clearly. The 1998 race was run in conditions similar to those we saw last year – i.e. heavy rain – and won by Michael Schumacher in bizarre circumstances where he contrived to take a stop-go penalty in the pits on the final lap – after he had crossed the finishing line. The strange spectacle left most of us in the crowd rather bemused.

But perhaps the oddest thing I ever saw at Silverstone was in 2005. Daily Express journalist Bob McKenzie made the mistake in 2004 of declaring that if McLaren won a race that year he would run naked around Silverstone. Kimi Raikkonen duly obliged with a victory at Spa, and come the 2005 race at Silverstone Ron Dennis successfully pressed McKenzie into coming good on the bet.

Sporting only a small pair of underpants and some body paint, McKenzie gamely took off around the track on foot, though by the time he passed me at Woodcote he was down to a weary trot…

Those are three of my most memorable moments from Silverstone. Please share yours below, and I’ll do my best to put some of them across to Radio 5.

Join me and other F1 Fanatics at the British GP this weekend (Update)

37 comments on “Your favourite Silverstone memory”

  1. Also a very strange moment was the only race at Silverstone I went to in 2004… but what was strange was the qualifying.

    Drivers slowed down deliberately to set slow times in the first session so they could go out as early as possible because it was expected to rain in the second session.

    I remember the crowd cheering when Michael Schumacher binned it in the final sector… We later found out it was done on purpose to get an un-timed lap in the first session!!

    1. That was my first visit to Silverstone too. I was watching and cheering as he spun, only to realise that it was a sneaky ploy.

      Despite seeing Lewis win last year, I’ll always remember seeing the sheer speed of the cars in 2004 go through Beckets in the dry. Quite staggering.

  2. Never been and probably never will go. Dull circuit and the only memories I have of it are being bored when it comes up in a game of Forza Motorsport 2. Donington is much better IMO and a great choice for next year.

  3. Richard Evans
    18th June 2009, 20:34

    I still think, although it may be too soon to realise, but last years race with hamilton a full minute ahead (added to that he didnt have the fortune of being on the best tyres like rubens). And when you had world champions and championship contenders spinning multiple times, it shows you what a superb drive it was.

  4. Urgh that stop-go for Schuey still makes me mad.

  5. Keke Rosberg qualifying in 1985. Brilliant.

  6. Needa say 1992 and faaaaan-tas-tic Nigel Mansell ! I wish I was on track too but I was just a poor frenc fan watching TV :)

  7. My favourite memory might have been going to the 1998 race and seeing Damon Hill when I was about 8 years old.

    One year later and I was printed in the ’99 brochure! :-D

  8. My favourite memory is watching Hakkinen around Becketts in the wet in 1998 (the first GP I went to). I just couldn’t believe the speed they were carrying and it gave me a new respect for the drivers and F1 in general.

    Before that I foolishy thought I could have driven an F1 car but not after watching this… I’ll never forget the noise!

    1. …until he ran wide of course $ : )

  9. 1987, nothing comes close!

  10. For me Lewis´s win last year, no doubt. One of the greats combination of driving skills and pit lane strategic in F1 history ever…

    1:08s ahead… This is not F1, is Le Mans…

    The fans cheering was great too. Any driver must have the chance and right to win at his home race!

  11. 1995 Johnny Herbert setting the Silverstone crowd alight with an unexpected victory in his Benneton following a rather uncharacteristically clumsey lunge by Damon that took both him and Schumi off coming out of Bridge.

    Johnny’s battle to the top echelon of motor racing after his career looked totalled following his Brand’s crash in ’88 was truly inspiring. That, as well as his perennially chipper nature, had already cemented him in Brit fans hearts.

    A win for the heart then and not the head.

    Believe Richard Evens has a point though. Can’t remember a more convincing rout by a single driver over the rest of the field than was displayed by Hamilton last year. Makes it all the more relevent when you consider his champ rival Massa span SIX times during the same race. Given his level of input to Felipe’s lap by lap performance, I can’t help but wonder why Ferrari haven’t tried Rob Smedley in the car ;)

    Anyways, enjoy the weekend Keith, wish could be there but supposed to be moving house early next week, so GF might have noticed my absence this weekend ;)


  12. Maverick_232
    18th June 2009, 23:17

    I remember my first British GP i think it was 2000. I cant remember who won but i think it was Jensons 1st time time at Silvi. I was in the stand at Luffield B for the race so i could see all the cars flat out through bridge and fighting for grip through the slower section of the track. Quali was very wet and i was on bridge corner for that and the speed the cars were still carrying through that corner blew my eyebrows into the sky.

    I was REALLY REALLY lucky as mt dad was a race marshall and he got me a job there as a spectator marshall… which basically meant that i stood on the side of the track in a yellow tabard and stopped people going under the barrier – which no-one ever did anyway. I got £5 and that bought my lunch…. However perks of the job were i got access all areas, which was incredible. I mingled with the rich and famous, spoke to Ralf Shumacher, got an autograph from Jordan(Katie Price) and Danni Minogue bought me a drink from a fosters stall for winning a kart race.

    Ive been to many GPs but for me this experience is best ever.

    I so hope we keep Silverstone as its a very very special place.

    1. Maverick_232
      18th June 2009, 23:19

      Not sure if i got the year right Lol.

  13. Michael Schu. coming out the mist then spinning at Abbey in practice 1 on the Friday morning in damp conditions.
    ’04 i think.- it was my first ever full on sight of an F1 car having legged it in from the car park with spine tingling from the noise…awsome.
    Real time racing, probably Lewis in the wet last year.

  14. I remember all those moments that Keith remembers plus Damon Hill smashing into the back os Schumachers Benneton coming into the complex in 95′ i think.
    And of course probably the most remembered moment when Mansell stopped to collect Senna after MAnsell won and Senna’s car pulled off to the side. Of course Rubens did well in 03′ and Mass pirouetting around and around in the pouring rain last year was funny (sorry persempre, i’m sure you was disappointed).

    Sadly i have never been to an actually race yet, i’m not as rich as Bernie likes to think everyone is.

  15. I think I will never forget the next weekend British GP…

  16. And on a slightly different subject Keith. Have you got any idea why there has been nobody since Mansell to have such a following at Silverstone? Hill/Coulthard/Herbert/Brundle/Blundell/Button nor Hamilton have had such a following.

  17. The exctasy of 1987 made up for the agony of Adelaide 86 for me as a 10 year old. It also made sure I would be a lifelong fan of the sport.

  18. Senna getting a lift in Mansell’s Williams in 1992! History a few metres away from me.

  19. Oh and Lewis in GP2 in 2006! Amazing! Overtaking two cars at once! One of them being nelson piquet jr!

  20. I rememember well the old fast configuration, with fast bends and a strange chicane in the middle of Woodcote, where Gilles spun after jumping on a kerb.
    And I remember Barrichello show in 2003 and Hamilton masterpiece under the rain.
    But it really feels like formula 1 is at home, when they run at Silverstone. The boxes, the unique start straight with cars that starts on a corner, the grandstands, the planes in the infield…everything is history in Silverstone.
    Looking forward to seeing the GP on sunday.
    I like Donington a lot, and hope it will be a nice venue for English GP…but I would prefer an alternation with Silverstone. Just as well as in the 80’s it alternated with that wonderful track Brands Hatch was.

  21. I have never attended the race and have only watched it on TV, but I have two Silverstone memories that stand out above all the others.

    The first was one was of my earliest F1 memories, Mansell winning in 1991 and giving Senna a lift back to the pits after Senna’s McLaren had run out of fuel.

    The second was last year with Hamilton’s masterful win in the wet.

  22. Silverstone 03 was the first race I went to, Barichello’s move on Kimi through Bridge was amazing, I was only 10 at the time and I remember going mental.:D
    (P.S. The first race I watched on TV was Spa 1998, it got me hooked!)
    (P.P.S. Hope the FOTA series prospers; proper tracks teams rules and drivers, and NO MORE BERNIE AND MAX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  23. My first F1 race was Silverstone ’73. Although young I still remeber the delay due the the big pile up at the end of lap 1.
    Seeing Stewart, Fittipaldi and Peterson got me hooked – the sound was incredible.
    Now I live in New York – maybe the FOTA teams will come back to Watkins Glen!!!

  24. My one and only trip to Silverstone was in 2001. We had walked all the way to Club corner for the start of the race when I realised I had forgotten my camera. Seriously cheesed off, I went back to my car to retrieve it, which turned out to be a good move. On the way back, I had to good fortune to see Mika Hakkinen lining up Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari for the pass that would lead to Hakkinen’s victory. Sadly, by the time I had taken the picture, all I had got was a shot of Mika’s rear wing but it was worth the long walk. The sheer speed, and sound of the V10’s took my breath away.

  25. Have a good time Keith…

  26. This is the 1st time ive not been since 2004 and im really missing not being there. Ive loved every year. Apart from the obvious one of hamiltons brilliant victory last year i think one of the best years was 2006 when they showed Englands world cup match on the big screens. That along with the terrific racing and the absolutely fabulous weather that year had to be one of the most amazing times i have ever had. The atmosphere was electric. Ive experianced torrential rain and hurricane winds,got sunstroke,and i wouldnt change a single second of it. My only regret is that i wont be there to see Jenson win.Have a great time everyboby

  27. My memory. Being 9 years old and being lifted up by Mark Donahue to sit in his Penske in the garage.

    In the 1970s fans could go over the bridge into the paddock in the evenings. Saturday evening was the best, there were loads of drivers who would chat – yes chat – with you. I was too shy but my Dad and I met James Hunt, John Watson and Tom Pryce. Then we bumped into Mark Donahue.

    Does this sound like a fantastic fantasy of an old man? The last time I went was the year Herbert won. I took my son, we saw one driver in the distance. We were pressed up against a fence with barbed wire on the top. I suddenly felt like I was in a concentration camp. My son is grown up – he is no longer interested in F1, he likes sports he can ‘participate’ in.

  28. Mansell 25seconds behind piquet and catching him at 2s a lap to pass him and take victory , the crowd went wild !, mansellmania in full effect .
    How is he not Sir Nigel ?.

  29. Thanks for your help guys!

    I’ve just done the interview and it’s going to the on Radio 5 tomorrow morning.

  30. For the first time in over 30 years I attended the formula 1 event at Silverstone 2008.
    One of the prime reasons for my absence was entry and exit delays, I was overjoyed that I experienced only a 10 minute delay both in and out on the Friday and Sunday.

    However I find 2 things far from satisfactory, the first being that the terrace area that I had booked had been oversold by about 10% so that many people could not deploy their folding seats [if the area was intended for standing only then it should be stated and policed]

    Secondly although its easy enough to recognise one team from another, I found it impossible to distinguish
    between the 2 drivers [could the teams e.g put their drivers initials writ large on the cars sides as I cannot remember all the drivers helmet colours], I managed well enough until the pit stops and from then got lost, and e.g when a Maclaren and a Red Bull became entangled I was not sure if it was Vettel and Hamilton and neither were 2 of the people around me.

    So for me its back to the telly next year

  31. Arriving in a Koenigsegg was the highlight for me! :)

  32. Perhaps not an F1 memory, but this years Silverstone classic was epic. Hope Silverstone can keep the British GP next year.

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