Start shots: British Grand Prix

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The starting grid has moved several times at Silverstone, and last year’s race was red-flagged within moments of the action beginning.

Here’s a look back at that and some other memorable moments from the race.


Start, Silverstone, 1965

When Silverstone held the first world championship race in 1950 its start and finish line was before Woodcote corner.

Fifty years ago the grid for the British Grand Prix was arranged in a 4-3-4-3 formation. The front row was occupied by pole sitter Jim Clark (number five, Lotus 33) alongside Graham Hill (number three, BRM P261), Richie Ginther (number 11, Honda RA 272) and Jackie Stewart (number four, BRM).

Clark won the race, leading every lap, as he had done in the previous British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.


Start, Silverstone, 1989

Fast-forward to the late eighties when the grid still formed up on Woodcote corner with the pole-sitter, in this case Ayrton Senna, on the right-hand side. His McLaren team mate Alain Prost made a better start, but Senna reasserted himself at Copse to take the lead back.

However Senna was doomed to retire from the race with a transmission failure, handing victory to Prost ahead of Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari.


Start, Silverstone, 1990

Twelve months later Mansell was on pole but Senna got to Copse before him. This began a tense battle between the pair, and although Mansell eventually got through a gearbox problem later forced him out and, furious, he announced his intention to retire.


Start, Silverstone, 2005

By the mid-2000s the start line had been repositioned to form a straight grid and pole position had been moved to the left-hand side of the track, on the racing line. This meant a shorter run to Copse corner, reducing the chance of the pole sitter being passed at the start.

It happened in 2005, however. From third on the grid Juan Pablo Montoya got off to a flier, immediately passing Jenson Button and then taking pole sitter Fernando Alonso around the outside of Copse to take the lead, putting him on course for victory.


Start, Silverstone, 2008

Despite a sodden track the field formed up for a standing start in 2008. Heikki Kovalainen, starting from his only pole position, got away well but Lewis Hamilton scorched away from fourth on the grid and almost passed his team mate for the lead. Kovalainen clung on around the outside, catching a lurid skid as they exited the corner, but held onto the lead.

It proved only temporary. Hamilton was soon through, and went on to take a crushing win by more than a minute.

It was a chaotic first lap. Mark Webber started from the front row but spun when the cars reached the Hangar straight. It was a desperate first lap for Red Bull as the team’s other car went off with Brooklands along with Sebastian Vettel from junior squad Toro Rosso. Meanwhile at Abbey Felipe Massa, who arrived at the race as the points leader, had his first of several spins.


2010: Webber passes Vettel at the start at Silverstone

Two years later the cars lined up on the old start straight for the final time and the tension sizzled between Red Bull team mates Vettel and Webber, who occupied the front row. At the heart of the row was the small-but-significant difference between Vettel’s new front wing and Webber’s old one.

Vettel was beaten to turn one by Webber, but it was fleeting contact with Hamilton that left him with a puncture, ruining his race. Webber took the win, memorably telling the team his efforts had been “not bad for a number two driver” after Vettel had been given the newer wing.

Start, Silverstone, 2010


Start, Silverstone, 2011

The circuit had been remodelled for the 2010 race but the start/finish line wasn’t relocated until the following year. In a reversal of 2010, Webber headed a Red Bull front row but was passed by Vettel.


Start, Silverstone, 2012

It was straightforward at the front in 2012 as Alonso led the field away. But Paul di Resta spun off into retirement following contact with Romain Grosjean in the new loop.

Start, Silverstone, 2012


Start, Silverstone, 2013

Hamilton headed the field at the start in 2013, but he would soon be stymied by the first of several tyre failure which affected the race.

From fourth on the grid Webber lost ten places – and much of his front wing – at the first corner.

Start, Silverstone, 2013


Start, Silverstone, 2014

Another team mate reversal as 2013 winner Rosberg led the field from pole position only to drop out with a gearbox problem, opening the door for Hamilton.

However the race was interrupted for almost an hour by a huge crash on the first lap for Kimi Raikkonen. He hit a barrier on the Wellington Straight, showering the track with debris, some of which narrowly missed Max Chilton’s head. This led to a lengthy stoppage while the barrier was replaced.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Start shots: British Grand Prix”

  1. Great article
    I love Silverstone
    Such a great track even in its current guise
    I’m not religious but I pray to all the Gods that this track is never removed in favor of some far away mega $$$$ track ,

    1. I think considering who runs the sport you’re far better off praying to satan.

  2. Aesthetically I really don’t like the proportions of the long wheelbase cars. I think the post 84 cars can live with it because they outweigh the length with chunky tyres.

  3. Love that shot from 1965. 4 across start including Clark, Hill, Stewart. Amazing.

    Looking forward to the race and this feature provides a great mix of history and expectations.

  4. I’m looking forward to some great racing :)

  5. Just that say I was re-watching the 2013 British GP. And I must say, I loved it. What was so good about it is the fact that it was unpredictable and you had people running different strategies. You had 2 teams capable of winning, and another 3 capable of getting on the podium. The Safety Car at the end was also very welcome, as we saw great attacking moves from Webber, Alonso and Hamilton in particular, gaining 6 or 7 places in 10 laps. I feel as though predictability and a great gap between teams are the reason for this. In 2013 alone, we had:

    Tier 1: Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus-Renault and Mercedes

    Tier 2: Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso & Williams

    Tier 3: Marussia & Caterham

    Not to mention that there would often be a overlap between Tier 1 and Tier 2. In 2015 however, it goes like this:

    Tier 1: Mercedes

    Tier 2: Ferrari

    Tier 3: Williams

    Tier 4: Lotus, Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Force India

    Tier 5: McLaren-Honda

    Tier 6: Manor

    THIS is the reason for the boring races. Last year was quite similar, but Williams, Ferrari (Alonso) and Red Bull often had great scraps for best of the rest.

    1. Okay, several mistakes. The first three words are just random (was I having a brain fart…?) and it should read “…predictability and great gaps are the reason for this in 2015”.

    2. @mashiat I also have the race on my recorder. I also had the 2010-2011-2012 British GPs but they have been mysteriously deleted to make room for shows such as Sex and the City, How I met your father and the one with Charlie Sheen…

      1. @xtwl You can find all of the full races online. That’s where I watched the 2013 and the 2012 (some time ago) GPs.

        1. Andy (@andybantam)
          1st July 2015, 23:38

          @xtwl yeah? Where?

    3. @mashiat
      Silverstone was probably the best race of that season. Don’t look back on 2013 with rose-tainted glasses now. A lot of complaining occurred early on in the season when drivers had to drive 3-4 seconds/lap slower than the potential of the car in order to not wreck the tyres (Barcelona, Monaco). Then, for about 3 races or so (Silverstone-Nurburgring-Hungary) we saw great competition and racing among the top teams. Then after the summer break, Red Bull took off into the distance, and the rest of the season was absurdly boring.

      1. @kingshark 2013 was not a outstanding season like 2010 and 2012 were. But it still contained a lot of entertaining races. I, for one, don’t mind highly-degrading tyres, and thus thoroughly enjoyed Australia, Malaysia, China, Bahrain, Spain, Canada, Germany, Hungary. I will admit though, that besides Japan and India, the second half of the season was quite boring. But at least we never knew who was going to come second…and third and fourth and fifth and sixth.

      2. @mashiat
        I agree that the first half of 2013 was quite good, but in terms of unpredictability, 2012 was just something else. There is literally no comparison between 2012 and 2015, you’d think that you were watching a completely different formula.

        1. @kingshark Indeed. Even the one of the most boring seasons since 2010 is miles better than 2015

        2. @mashiat
          Indeed. I’d say that every year from 2005 to 2014 was far more entertaining than 2015 has been. F1 is currently on a 10 year low.

          Even in 2004 we had some entertaining races and a competitive battle behind Ferrari.

  6. Even the rain Gods aren’t helping us. Another dry and sunny weekend is predicted for Silverstone.


  7. I’m a big fan of these Start Shots features!

    I hadn’t noticed how noticeably different Vettel’s nose, as well as the front wing, was to Webber’s in 2010. And does anyone know why the stands were pushed back on the start/finish straight in 2010?

    Despite all the changes at Silverstone down the years, it hasn’t lost any of its charm at all in my opinion. The addition of Silverstone Wing in 2011 was great for the circuit and the British Grand Prix.

    Slightly off subject but I’ve noticed the British Grand Prix doesn’t have a sponsor this year, making 2015 the first to not have one.

    1. It was to allow a gravel trap run off area to be added on the outside of the kink onto the pit straight.

  8. The 2008 race still sticks in my memory, it was completely mad and brilliant.

  9. Although it’s not on here, I’ll never forget the 2003 race.

  10. Loving these Start Shots from each Grand Prix. Some nostalgic, some not so. One thing that is clearly visible is how ugly the cars had become in the period between 2011-2013. I will take the vacuum cleaner noses to those stepped/high ones anyday.

    Return of F1 and the Terminator this week, hopefully it will all end well for mankind :)

    1. @evered7 I agree they are not the prettiest girls in town but man do I love the look of the F138.

      1. @xtwl Looks good from the side but the front view with the gaping space underneath the nose is not a pleasing sight to see. I like the return to slimmer noses and less space underneath it.

        Nothing can beat the 2007/08 Ferrari’s though. Fast and a looker. Although some might not like the numerous attachments in the form of winglets.

  11. Didn’t Webber win in 2012 with that epic pass on Fernando in the last few laps? Surprised there’s such a short write-up of that entry.

    I do enjoy reading these though… great way to head into a GP weekend :)
    certainly beats trolling through the old team pre-GP statements 5 years or so ago!

  12. Love Silverstone – can’t wait for the weekend’s race. Pity that Copse is not the first corner anymore, but I’d rather have the current layout than not have Silverstone on the calendar.

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