Top ten… Home Grand Prix wins

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Alain Prost won his home Grand Prix a record six times
Alain Prost won his home Grand Prix a record six times

Over the years we’ve seen how performing in front of a home crowd can inspire greatness in racing drivers.

Can Mark Webber emulate great drivers of the past like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna by winning his home Grand Prix?

If he does expect a reaction from the Australian crowd similar to those which greeted these ten great home Grand Prix victories.

Nigel Mansell, 1987 British Grand Prix, Silverstone

Nigel Mansell's relentless pace wore down team mate Nelson Piquet
Nigel Mansell's relentless pace wore down team mate Nelson Piquet

The Williams FW11Bs with their Honda V6 turbo engines were the class of the field in 1987, especially on power circuits like Silverstone.

Sure enough, the team’s drivers Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell locked out the front row of the grid for the race.

At the start Alain Prost somehow managed to thread his way through from fourth on the grid to put his McLaren in the lead. But he was passed and left for dead within a lap. The 1987 British Grand Prix would contested exclusively by the two Williams drivers.

The race hinged on a tyre stop. Mansell, running second, lost a balance weight from one of his wheels and came in for a new set, which in those days took closer to ten seconds than three.

Piquet gambled on reaching the end of the race without a tyre change. Back on track, Mansell set about pummelling the lap record. Lapping over a second a lap quicker than Piquet he recovered the 25 seconds lost to his team mate.

On lap 63 of 65 Mansell was poised to pounce. At Stowe corner he feinted right, then left, and finally dived down the inside and through into the lead. The crowd erupted as he took the chequered flag, and when Mansell’s car stuttered to a halt on his victory lap they flooded onto the track in celebration.

Ayrton Senna, 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

By 1991 Ayrton Senna had won two world championships and 26 Grands Prix. But, due to a mixture of misfortune and mistakes, a win in his home Grand Prix had eluded him.

He’d taken pole position for the race four times before. But in 1986 he lost out to Piquet and in 1988 he was disqualified for changing his car after the formation lap. A first collision scuppered his chances in 1989, and in 1990 he tripped over a backmarker while leading.

He finally broke his duck in 1991 – but not without some drama. His McLaren MP4-6’s gearbox began to malfunction. Senna wrested with the gear stick and got the car into sixth where he kept it for the final seven laps. Meanwhile light rain began to fall and second-placed Riccardo Patrese was catching him, despite wrestling gearbox problems of his own.

Senna made it to the line with just under three seconds in hand over Patrese. He took the chequered flag – and then his engine cut out. He had to be lifted out of his cockpit as the strain of manhandling his car had exhausted him.

Alain Prost, 1981 French Grand Prix, Dijon

Alan Prost scored his first of six home wins at Dijon in 1981
Alan Prost scored his first of six home wins at Dijon in 1981

Alain Prost was another driver who scored his first Grand Prix win in his home event. But the 1981 French Grand Prix was an odd affair, run in two parts after a rain storm interrupted the race.

From third on the grid the Renault driver ran second behind Piquet for most of the first 59 laps. Then a massive downpour hit the circuit and the race was red-flagged.

By the time the grid had re-formed for the second part of the race the track had almost dried out and most drivers started on slick tyres. With the cars resuming their original order Prost lined up second on the grid which happened to be where the racing line was. He easily took the lead from Piquet who fell into the clutches of the midfield.

Prost still had to fend off an attack from John Watson, who briefly passed him as the race restarted but ran wide. Resuming the lead, Prost stretched out enough of advantage to cancel out Piquet’s seven second lead from the first part of the aggregate win.

Prost’s victory was the first of six in his home race. No other driver has won his home Grand Prix so many times. His other wins were in 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1993.

Carlos Pace, 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos

Home favourite Emerson Fittipaldi, who had won the last two Brazilian Grands Pris, started the 1975 race from the front row. But surprisingly it was Jean-Pierre Jarier in the Shadow who took the lead and held it for most of the race.

Jarier’s Cosworth-powered car had the benefit of a new short inlet trumpet package which gave it a performance advantage over the other Cosworth cars on the long Interlagos straights.

Unfortunately his engine died eight laps from home, allowing a Brazilian into the lead. Not Fittipaldi, but Carlos Pace driving for Brabham. Pace completed a hat-trick of home wins at Interlagos for Brazilian drivers.

Sadly it was to be Pace’s only world championship win. He died in a plane crash two years later, and today the Interlagos circuit bears the name Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

Lewis Hamilton, 2008 British Grand Prix, Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton squeezes past Mark Webber at Silverstone in 2008
Lewis Hamilton squeezes past Mark Webber at Silverstone in 2008

Lewis Hamilton arrived at his home race under pressure after costly collisions and penalties in the previous rounds. Mistakes in qualifying only compounded matter and he lined up fourth on a damp track.

But he produced a consummate display of skill on race day. He was up to second by the first corner, banging wheels with team mate Heikki Kovalainen. He thrust his way past and into the lead at Stowe on lap four.

By this time the track was beginning to dry and soon Kimi R??ikk??nen began to catch Hamilton. But as they headed for the pits together on lap 21 the rain had begun to fall again.

Ferrari, expecting the track to keep drying, left R??ikk??nen out on his worn but warm tyres while Hamilton took on a fresh set of intermediate rubber. The scale of Ferrari’s mistake was immediately apparent as R??ikk??nen lost more than a second per lap.

But even drivers on the correct tyres couldn’t touch Hamilton as the rain got harder. At times he was over three seconds per lap quicker than similar-shod rivals. When the chequered flag came out after 60 laps his margin of victory was one minute and eight seconds.

Read more: Lewis Hamilton scores home win as Ferrari flounder (2008 British Grand Prix review)

Juan Manuel Fangio, 1955 Argentinian Grand Prix, Buenos Aires

Juan Manuel Fangio mastered extreme conditions of a different kind to win his home race in 1955. The Argentinian Grand Prix was held in searing heat with air temperature over 36C. And this was before the days of the two-hour time limit: 96 laps of the Buenos Aires circuit took over three hours to complete.

Only Fangio and fellow Argentinian Robert Mieres completed the distance without handing their car to another driver, as was permitted at the time.

Hot exhaust fumes seared his flesh but while his rivals tumbled out of their cars and into ambulances with heat exhaustion, Fangio pressed on to score one of the most gruelling wins ever seen in Formula 1.

Mario Andretti, 1977 United States Grand Prix West, Long Beach

Mario Andretti inherited victory in the 1977 United States Grand Prix West
Mario Andretti inherited victory in the 1977 United States Grand Prix West

The only American driver to win his home round of the world championship – apart from Indianapolis 500 winners – is Mario Andretti.

Jody Scheckter led much of the 1977 USA Grand Prix West, the second on the Long Beach street course. But a puncture four laps from home let Andretti though to win.

Gilles Villeneuve, 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal

The emergence of Gilles Villeneuve’s exciting and sometimes controversial talent coincided with the Canadian Grand Prix moving to a new circuit near Montreal.

F1’s first visit to the track was poorly timed – the weather was unusually cold for a Grand Prix, but Villeneuve turned that to his advantage to score his first ever F1 win.

Jarier, who’d been unlucky to miss out on a win at Interlagos three years earlier, played the same role in this race. He’d been drafted in at Lotus to take the place of Ronnie Peterson who’d been killed at Monza one month earlier.

Jarier led while Villeneuve passed Scheckter for second. When Jarier’s oil pressure dropped Villeneuve moved into the lead, to the joy of the 72,000-strong crowd.

Read more: Gilles Villeneuve: His victories remembered

Stirling Moss, 1955 British Grand Prix, Aintree

Did Juan Manuel Fangio (left) let Stirling Moss (right) win at Aintree in 1955?
Did Juan Manuel Fangio (left) let Stirling Moss (right) win at Aintree in 1955?

A hard-earned victory against an all-time great, or a gift from the one they called the maestro?

Stirling Moss is too much of a gentleman to suggest anything other than that Fangio stayed his hand on the run to the line at Aintree in 1955, allowing his young team mate to score his first world championship win on home ground.

Fangio, however, insisted Moss won this one fair and square. Until someone invents a time machine we’ll probably never know.

Jim Clark, 1965 British Grand Prix, Silverstone

No other driver has dominated his home event the way Jim Clark did in the early sixties. The British Grand Prix had three different venues from 1962 to 1965 – but only one pole sitter and only one winner: Jim Clark.

The four races in question were held at Aintree, Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Silverstone respectively. Astonishingly, Clark led 314 of their 317 laps – the only othe driver who got a look-in was Jack Brabham, who led the first three laps of the 1963 race.

Once Clark took over the lead, he never lost it on home ground again until the end of the 1965 British Grand Prix. Staggering.

Over to you

Have you got any other picks for best home Grand Prix win? Were you at any of these races? Have your say in the comments.

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