The British Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Silverstone Circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire. The British and Italian Grands Prix are the oldest continuously staged Formula One World Championship Grands Prix.
Grand Prix motor racing was first established in Britain by Henry Segrave at Brooklands in 1926 after his winning of the 1923 French Grand Prix and the San Sebastián Grand Prix the following year, which raised interest in the sport. The first ever British Grand Prix was won by the French team of Louis Wagner and Robert Sénéchal driving a Delage 155B. The second British Grand Prix was held at Brooklands in 1927. It was designated the European Grand Prix five times between 1950 and 1977, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe.
Silverstone has hosted the race regularly since the start of the F1 championship in 1950 (in which it was the first race of the first ever official World Championship) and every year up until 1986; it alternated with Brands Hatch between 1964 and 1986, and with Aintree (better known as a horse-racing course) between 1955 and 1962. And since 1987, Silverstone has been the sole host of the British Grand Prix.
Before it was heavily modified in 1991, Silverstone was one of the fastest tracks on the Formula 1 calendar. The drivers loved the challenge of the sweeping and extremely demanding Copse, Stowe and Club corners (which in its last years, each corner was taken progressively faster than the one before it). 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg held the all-time Formula 1 qualifying lap record for 16 years after posting fastest time for the 1985 British Grand Prix with an average speed of 258.983 km/h (160.92 mph).
Twelve British drivers have won the British Grand Prix, with Englishman Stirling Moss being the first and Scotsman Jim Clark winning 5 times, the most of any driver other than French driver Alain Prost, who also won the British Grand Prix 5 times (all of them at Silverstone). Silverstone has produced many race wins by British drivers, such as Peter Collins (1958), Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971), James Hunt (1977), John Watson (1981), Nigel Mansell (1987, 1991, 1992), Damon Hill (1994), Johnny Herbert (1995), David Coulthard (1999, 2000) and Lewis Hamilton (2008). Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss also won together at Aintree in 1957.
A dispute between Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC), and the Formula One authorities in 2003 over the funding of necessary improvements to the track's facilities led to doubts over the future of the race.
In October 2004 the British Grand Prix was left off the preliminary race schedule for 2005 because the BRDC refused to pay the race fee demanded by Bernie Ecclestone. However, after months of negotiation between the BRDC, Ecclestone and the Formula One constructors, a deal was made for the Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone until 2009.
Despite the controversy and political bickering that has surrounded the future of the race in recent years, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone remains one of the world's premier motor racing events.
On 4 July 2008, it was announced that Donington Park had been awarded the contract to host the British Grand Prix for 10 years from 2010. However, Donington failed to secure the necessary funding to host the race, and its contract was terminated in November 2009. On 7 December 2009, Silverstone signed a 17 year contract to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards. The 2010 race saw a new circuit configuration being used, using the brand new "Arena" layout.
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