2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the first British Grand Prix to be held at Silverstone. But it wasn’t as glamorous as the F1 events we know today.
The First International Race
Previously an RAF airfield used during the Second World War, Silverstone’s three runways can still be identified within the outlines of the track. The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) leased the land from the Air Ministry in 1948, when hay bales and canvas screens were erected to protect the crops and piggery inside the circuit for the event, which attracted 100,000 people.
The First F1 Grand Prix
After its initial racing successes, Silverstone was chosen as the first circuit to host the brand new Formula 1 World Championship in 1950. It is one of only four circuits still used in the modern F1 calendar, along with Monza, Spa and Monaco. In 1951, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) took over from the RAC and began to develop the site into a permanent race track.
Motor racing is a notoriously dangerous sport. In the early days, cars and tracks were designed purely for speed. Safety measures such as fireproof clothing and roll bars weren’t introduced to F1 until the 1960s. In 1975, a chicane was put in at Woodcote to slow the cars down. Major refurbishment of the circuit began in 1991, introducing sweeping curves to the track. In 1994, following the tragic deaths of Roland Ratzenburger and Ayrton Senna at the Imola circuit in San Marino, extensive changes were made to corners at Silverstone, including a new chicane at Abbey Corner.
Going to a Grand Prix
Like all of the circuits on the F1 calendar, Silverstone offers a variety of experiences are available to F1 fans, from VIP and paddock club experiences to activity-packed camping weekends. The Hungary F1 Paddock Club, for example, includes premium viewing from above the teams’ garages, tours of the pit lanes, an open bar with premium champagne, VIP parking and more. Paddock Club experiences for all circuits can be booked through organisers such as https://edgeglobalevents.com/f1-paddock-club/hungary/.
In the Balance
Despite attracting the second highest attendances in 2017, Silverstone’s F1 days face an uncertain future. Increasing fees to the F1 group have impacted profits, and if a new deal isn’t negotiated soon, Silverstone’s last F1 race will be in 2019.