Top ten… Home Grand Prix wins

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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93 comments on Top ten… Home Grand Prix wins

  1. David B said on 23rd March 2010, 19:26

    Just a note to underline the unlukiest driver in home Gran Prix: Barrichello.
    Can’t remember all the time and the reasons he lost at Interlagos.

    • theRoswellite said on 23rd March 2010, 23:09

      Also, another home GP win that fell short, but by only one place.

      John Love comes in second in the South African GP of 1967, in a Cooper Climax. He had to stop for fuel with 5 laps to go while leading. It would have been the equivalent to, perhaps, Narain Karthikeyan making a return, one time only drive, at the initial Indian GP and winning in a Force India (ah….maybe not that unlikely!)

  2. Great post Keith. I hope the order you have chosen is Top-down, because I’ll never forget Nigel at Silverstone GP. He became instantly my favorite driver all times.

    I recognize he usually thought with his b**** not with his head, but who cares… Nigel was a pleasure to watch, even when he broke the car.

  3. gpfan said on 23rd March 2010, 21:22

    Sadly, you are all wrong. Obviously the greatest home win was one of those offered by Keith.

    The Late Great Gilles Villeneuve (or, God) as he is known in Canada was the most uplifting home GP win of all.

    Not only was the driving emphatic, but the podium celebrations could only leave any reasonable person in tears.

    Gilles being a Canuck and finally winning, allowed me to switch from cheering the Scots (Stewart, Clark, Ireland … yadda) to a Canuck.

    I still get weepy at the memory of Gilles crying like a school-girl with a skinned knee when he won.

    Also, until that point, Gilles was the only driver to break his duck at home. Anyone else ever done that? A McVities digestive biscuit for the first correct answer! lol

    As an aside, my wee brother and two Scottish cousins were on holiday in Como back in the ’80’s. They went to the local disco one night. My brother felt compelled to take a photo for my benefit. At one end of the dance floor, on the wall, was a photo of a now deceased Gilles. On the floor were flowers. Seemingly, the locals honoured the shrine before their night out of socializing. I must ask him to find that photo …

    • Also, until that point, Gilles was the only driver to break his duck at home. Anyone else ever done that? A McVities digestive biscuit for the first correct answer! lol

      It has indeed been done since. Johnny Herbert at the 1995 British GP, for example.

      And I claim my biscuit.

      • gpfan said on 24th March 2010, 1:07

        Well done, sensei … did you notice the wording? Did not wish to tip you off. Anyone else done this?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd March 2010, 22:48

      Also, until that point, Gilles was the only driver to break his duck at home.

      Pace did before him, surely?

      • David A said on 24th March 2010, 1:05

        And Tony Brooks as well.

      • gpfan said on 24th March 2010, 1:21

        I believe Pace, and others did it in non WDC races, or the Indy 500. Mind, I have already been wrong, today.
        Home F1 or GP maiden race winners were, I’m certain, not of WDC standards.

        And, if they were, we still have Cliff Thorburn! :) :) :)

        • gpfan said on 24th March 2010, 1:37

          Je m’excuse. That last post may not have made complete sense. If I was untoward, my point was that previous drivers had already won non-championship or Indy 500 races in their careers.

          Although, as I have said, I have been wrong today.

  4. For me Senna on 91 was the epitome of racing.All of those were great for sure, but the words Senna said on the end … i’m free.. were the reason i became an f1 fanatic

  5. theRoswellite said on 23rd March 2010, 23:23

    Very nice post selection Keith, inspirational stuff.

    And the award goes to…(oh, we have a tie)

    Fangio and Senna for: Other-Worldly Determination Under Adverse Conditions.

    Massa for: Sportsmanship While Having Your Heart Ripped Out.

    Clark for: An Impossible Display of Utter Skill and Over Achievement Times Four.

    (Nice job gentlemen…the reasons we love F1)

  6. YeaMon said on 24th March 2010, 0:32

    Hamilton in 08 does not belong on that list.

    • David A said on 24th March 2010, 0:59

      Why not? It was a display of crushing dominance and wet-weather wizardry from Hamilton, who was also bouncing back from bad races in Canada and France.

      • gpfan said on 24th March 2010, 1:25

        Sorry to high-jack, but since I was earlier talking of maidens, and you, David, mentioned Canada, what do you think of Kubica’s only win?

        For me, it was a Master-stroke. ‘Course, my opinion is worth the paper this is written on …

        • David A said on 24th March 2010, 2:12

          Well, you can always print out the webpage!

          Being serious, it was a great place for him to get his maiden win, one year after his horror accident. He was helped out by a clumsy display by Hamilton, but Kubica made no mistakes (like in Monaco that year), and deserved a victory anyway.

  7. F1Outsider said on 24th March 2010, 2:40

    Massa actually had 2 great home wins. In 06 it was just awesome, sheer euphoria… First Brazilian driver to win a home GP after 13 years. It was the first concrete sign of better things to come from him. Then in 07 he dominated but had to let Kimi by. 08.. Oh wow!!! I don’t recall yelling so much in my life just out of 100% pure happyness. Only to feel like I fell off a cliff seconds later, but then the brazilian national anthem, his demeanor on the podium and I was again just as proud as if he had won the championship.

    Moments like that are once in a decade in F1. I’ll never forget that race.

  8. Patrick said on 24th March 2010, 3:43

    if massa had won the champsionship that would have been a hard one to not put in the top ten. sad.

  9. Florida Mike said on 24th March 2010, 4:10

    I have to believe that any Top 10 list of Home GP Wins has to include the 1979 French GP at Dijon, where Jean-Pierre Jaboilles scored the first win for a turbocharged car, driving a French car with a French engine, French tires and French fuel. Most of us remember the day as one of motor racings best battles, between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux. It had to be a great day in France (and not bad in Quebec)

    • gpfan said on 24th March 2010, 22:22

      Yes. J-P J was magic, but I feel the only reason any of us remember this is due to the points you stated above. I have GV and RA on video, mind it is pointless now, what with Youtube and computers.

      As an aside, Gerry Donaldson remarked in his bio of GV, that Gilles and Rene sat at the front in the Ferarri tent and giggled like school boys when, after the race, they watched the footage.

      • Florida Mike said on 25th March 2010, 3:20

        You’re absolutely right, I remember it for the race for 2nd. I recommended it for this list because JPJ didn’t need someone else to run out of gas or have a problem; he was in another world.

    • Speaking of Frenchmen winning the French GP…Arnoux’s win in 1982 could rank as a great home victory, because he did it in a straight fight with Prost in the same machinery. Alain was reportedly not too happy at the end of the race, as he had expected Arnoux to defer to the “team leader!”

    • bernification said on 25th March 2010, 8:21

      This was a fantastic battle between Rene and Gilles.

      Poor JP, won by a mile, but everyone was captivated by the fantastic dogfight behind.

  10. Owen G said on 24th March 2010, 4:44

    The Mansell win at Silverstone was immense. And I was thinking back to that when they announced the refuelling ban for this season. I had high hopes that there would be a tough strategy call between staying out on worn tyres and coming in for new ones.

    It seemed like the performance gap wasn’t all that great and that the tyres had no problem lasting half a race distance. Maybe something for Bridgestone to look at?

    • Farrokh Bomi Bulsara said on 24th March 2010, 10:31

      Solution is to call in Firestone or Dunlop. They make hopeless tires all the time.

      I bet the Dunlop wouldn’t last even 5 laps. Tire wreckers like Hamilton & Alonzo will have a tough time of it.

      Bring in Dunlop. They are the best of the worst.

  11. GeeMac said on 24th March 2010, 5:36

    I would have put Damon Hill’s British Grand Prix victory in 1994 in this list. He managed to break his familiy’s duck at the British GP, and it came at a crucial stage in the fight for the WDC.

    • True, but he was helped out by Schumacher being black-flagged and the subsequent confusion over what penalty he was supposed to receive.

      • GeeMac said on 25th March 2010, 8:15

        And how is that different from Carlos Pace benefiting from Jarier’s engine failure at Interlagos in 1975?

        It was also important for the morale of the entire Williams team so soon after Senna’s death. Obviously not as important as the win at Barcalona, but it still helped to get the team back on track.

      • bernification said on 25th March 2010, 8:25

        In all honesty, that was all Schumachers own fault, trying to play mind games with Hill. Didn’t he later win this race in the pit lane, when he served ‘half’ a stop and go penalty.

        Is this the first time that someone has raced on appeal for an offence comitted that day?

  12. Cube said on 24th March 2010, 7:04

    Great post… but maybe you should change the wording slightly on the Senna win.

    Senna wrested with the gear stick and got the car into sixth >>gear<< where he kept it for the final seven laps.

  13. sumedh said on 24th March 2010, 11:09

    I too think that massa’s win in 2008 should be added in this one.

    Perhaps people forget Massa’s abysmal wet-weather driving skills and F2008’s known issues in the wet.

    Rain in the final race of 2008 was beneficial for Lewis rather than Felipe.

    But Felipe won nevertheless.

    Of the 10 mentioned, I will go with Fangio’s Argentinian GP win. 96 laps, 3 hours!! Gruesome stuff, is there a video?

  14. Massa in Brasil???
    Alonso in Spain?????

  15. PeterG said on 24th March 2010, 12:46

    Has there ever been a first race in the country won by someone from that country?
    Like if Petrov would win the first Russian race?

    • if you count the Indianapolis 500 as a home race (when it was part of the championship), then there are a few instances – but apart from that, I can’t seem to find any.

    • Antifia said on 25th March 2010, 9:01

      Emerson Fittipaldi in Brazil (1973). And it I am not mistaken Ascari won in Monza in 1950…

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