The battles of Britain
Brands Hatch, in its initial 22-year lifespan as a Grand Prix venue, played host to a number of thrilling Grands Prix.
The first British GP at Brands, in 1964, went to Jim Clark after relentless pressure from Graham Hill. In ’68, Jo Siffert became the last privateer to win a Grand Prix when he triumphed in Rob Walker’s Lotus. In 1970 Jack Brabham lost the race when he ran out of fuel two laps from home.
It goes on: people power in ’76 when the crowd demanded James Hunt be allowed to take the re-start; a thrilling battle between Niki Lauda and ex-Ferrari team mate Carlos Reutemann in ’78, which went the Argentinian’s way when the Austrian’s Brabham was baulked by backmarker Giacomelli; the European Grand Prix of ’85,when Keke Rosberg spun his Williams while trying to pass Ayrton Senna for the lead, then pitted and deliberately held up Senna, a move which allowed team-mate Nigel Mansell to take the lead and his first F1 win; the ’86 British GP – another Mansell triumph.
And do you know another thing? It’s never; ever rained for a GP at Brands.
Even so, there have been some great races at Silverstone too. Everyone remembers Jody Scheckter wiping out nine cars in 1973, but fewer recall that an epic race resulted in the top four being covered by just 3.4 seconds at the flag, with Peter Revson’s McLaren out front. There was a thrilling duel in 1969 between Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt And, of course, the mother of all great races, the 1987 war between Williams team-mates Mansell and Nelson Piquet, which went the Briton’s way after one of the most daring passes of all time.
Silverstone has also played host to two races won by a driver sitting in the pits (Emerson Fittipaldi in 1975 and Michael Schumacher in ’98), and the mystery of the missing lap in ’85, when the chequered flag came down one tour early because someone had omitted a number on their lap chart. It was a good job that Alain Prost’s McLaren was over a lap to the good after one of the dullest Grands Prix in history.