British Grand Prix: Silverstone Circuit

F1 Silverstone 2006
2006 F1 at Silverstone (Janine Forbes /

Silverstone is without doubt one of the best-known race circuits in Formula 1 at the minute. They have been hosting Formula 1 races since 1950, which also makes it one of the oldest tracks. Whilst they have had to share a few races with the likes of Aintree and Brands Hatch between 1955 and 1986, they’ve since been the firm home of the British Grand Prix.

The fact that the race is held in July in Britain, means that the weather can be quite unpredictable. In fact, given that the F1 circuit tends to follow the sun around the world, picking off places where the weather is going to be best, the unpredictably of the British summer time means that no guarantees are made.

This means that drivers are often needed to bring a new set of skills to the table; wet weather driving. Some thrive in this, such as the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, whereas other drivers, who aren’t as use to the rain as some, really do tend to struggle. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Silverstone 5.891km 18 150,000 1943

Circuit Layout

F1 British Grand Prix Silverstone Circuit Track Map

Given that the site for the Silverstone track was a former RAF airfield in 1943, the fact that the 3 original runaways are all outlining the current circuit is a really compelling feature. 

The current track is famed for having well-known corners and often people are able to reference them and their position on the circuit better than most, even if they’ve never driven a lap of the track before.

The whole site underwent huge improvement in both track layout and facilities in 2011, which made it one of the most desirable F1 tracks in the world. The start of the track falls between that of Club Corner and Abbey Corner. Whilst Abbey is fairly tight, Turn 2 (Farm) is flat out before having to slow through the chicanes of turn 3 and 4. But, the latter are two of the best opportunities to pass cars on the track as it’s the first major breaking zone that the drivers partake. 

Turn 5 goes into a sweeping left-hander before a strong straight allows for cars with good straight line speed to really take advantage. Turn 6 is Brooklands and one of the most popular viewing spots as it’s easy for cars to get out shape here, but also another good passing zone. 

The section between turn 7 and turn10 is one of the fastest on the circuit, with cars following round 3 right handers, before a sharp chicane and then into Beckets, another popular viewing point. It’s then onto the back straight before heading down to Turn 15, Stowe and then the tightest and slowest turn on the track, Vale. 

A sweeping left hander brings you back through the last two corners before then powering back down the pit straight. 

Whilst a fast track, Silverstone has been criticised in the past for its lack of overtaking opportunities. Whilst the speed is still there, even if a little slower than in previous course layouts, the drivers still love coming back to track as it’s one that really benefits a smooth driving style, rather than an aggressive one, such as street races. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2017 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.30.621
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.35.771
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.37.093
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.37.176
2013 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.33.531

Other Races at Silverstone

Formula 3 Racing at Silverstone
Formula 3 Racing at Silverstone

As one of the focal points of the British motor racing scene, Silverstone sees a lot of action throughout the year and it’s widely thought that this is one of the main reasons that they have been able to keep the circuit open for so long and also secure long-term deals with the likes of Formula 1. 

Just some of the racing that is include is: Moto GP, FIA World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Silverstone, FIA World Rally Cross, World RX of Great Britain, FIM Superbike World Championship, European Le Mans Series, Formula Two Championship, International Formula 3000, British Touring Car championship, F3 International Series, British GT, British Superbike Championship and the Silverstone Classic. 

It’s also worth mentioning that Silverstone does open its doors to the public on selected weeks. You don’t even need to have a racing license, just a road legal car, pay your money and away you go. Although, most track days are usually specified within a certain bracket of car type to keep the days relatively similar. 


1975 Grand Prix at Silverstone
1975 Grand Prix at Silverstone (Gillfoto /

The first reports of racing at the track came about in 1947 when an impromptu group of friends decided to set up a race on the then abandoned airfield. It was told that during the race on the 2-mile circuit, one of the cars indivertibly hit a run-away sheep, writing off the car and to the much amusement of his friends, even got the race name after his ordeal; the Mutton Grand Prix. 

It wasn’t until the previous year that the Automobile Club had bigger plans for the airfield and manged to secure a lease on the land to create something that was a little more formal. The layout of the track was made using hay bales and the long runways made for exciting top speeds gained by the cars on show, with tight hairpins linking up the runways. 

British Grand Prix

By 1950, the track had been able to secure that of the British Grand Prix, which was a huge occasion and really put Silverstone on the map. King George Vi and Queen Elizabeth were both in attendance at the first Grand Prix meeting, such was the excitement over the race. 

The tack didn’t change much over the years until 1975 when a chicane was introduced to slow ever increasing speeds of the cars. Again, the track remained largely untouched after that until a major redesign was carried out in 1990. 

New Layout

The idea of the new layout was to slow the cars down and make the track much more technical than it already was. Previously, cars were able to take just about all corners apart from 1 in 4th gear or higher, which was great for speed, but the obvious dangers were that the cars were moving too fast. 

The first year of the new layout in 1991 saw one of the most exhilarating races at the track. It was Nigel Mansell who came out on top in a brilliant drive. But, one of the most iconic scenes in Formula 1 occurred when Mansell picked up Ayrton Senna on his victory lap after his McLaren-Honda had run out of fuel after crossing the chequered flag.