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The British Grand Prix 2017: The History of Silverstone

  • by: James Plant
  • On: 14, Jul 2017
1 min read
Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world, with an iconic racetrack: Silverstone. 

What Makes Silverstone So Special?


The legendary modified Silverstone race track – described by F1 Drivers as ‘insanely fast’ – has hosted the Grand Prix since 1987, but the event was originally based at the very first purpose-built motor racing venue, Brooklands. The concrete Brooklands oval was built in 1907 in Surrey, just outside of London. World War II saw Brooklands heavily damaged and eventually the circuit was abandoned. Following the demise of Brooklands, numerous British racing circuits were built on disused RAF airfields, with Silverstone in Northamptonshire the most notable. Silverstone held its first race, the Royal Automobile Club International Grand Prix on 2nd October 1948.


1955 marked the change of the Formula One circuit. From 1955 until 1962, Silverstone and the Aintree Circuit were alternated yearly: the even-numbered years were reserved for Silverstone and the odd-numbered years for Aintree. Aintree’s last race was held in 1962 before it was decommissioned in 1964, whilst Silverstone remained a popular favourite.

Brands Hatch

The early 1960’s and mid-1980’s saw circuits alternated between the now iconic Silverstone and Southern English circuit, Brands Hatch. Silverstone hosted the British Grand Prix in odd-numbered years and Brands Hatch in even-numbered years. Unlike Silverstone and Aintree, the cambered corners and elevation change of Brands Hatch made the circuit very popular among drivers.


The Silverstone evolution emerged in 1987: the circuit was heavily modified with a new left-right chicane on the Farm Straight just before Woodcote. Another chicane was installed at the flat-out Abbey corner and Stowe corner was slowed considerably, however it was reverted to its previous design in 1966.

Present Day

The 2008 announcement that Donington Park had won the contract to host the British Grand Prix meant that the future of Silverstone was at risk. However, Donington failed to secure the necessary funding and in November 2009 the contract was terminated. Two months later, Silverstone signed a 17-year contract to host the British Grand Prix from 2010, securing its future until 2019. Ultimately, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is one of the most iconic and attended racing events in the world.
Find out more about the F1 industry.

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