In the January 2021 edition of Motor Sport we have selected the finest home wins throughout the history of Formula 1 and you can read the full list in the magazine.
It also features Maurice Hamilton on what it means for drivers and team owners to taste success on home soil.
Juan Manuel Fangio: 1957 Argentine Grand Prix
El Maestro took four consecutive wins at his home grand prix, but the final victory in 1957 might just have been his best. In sweltering conditions which broke both man and machine, Fangio hared off into the distance and never looked back.
Maserati team-mate Jean Behra was the only other driver to finish on the same lap, 18sec further back. No mean feat for a field which also included Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Luigi Musso and Mike Hawthorn.
Michael Schumacher: 1995 German Grand Prix
It looked like it was all going Damon Hill’s way, despite the crowd’s vocal support for Michael Schumacher. Pole position for the Williams driver, and searing race pace on the first lap made the race seem like a foregone conclusion… until lap two and a mistake that put Hill into the tyre wall.
Schumacher didn’t need a second chance. A two-stop race worked for the Benetton driver, whose superior pace left Williams’ David Coulthard well behind by the time he came in for a second stop. Schumacher’s win was the first F1 championship win for a German driver on home soil, and the first of nine victories in Germany throughout his 91-win career.
Fernando Alonso: 2012 European Grand Prix
Perhaps Alonso’s greatest win, it took place in front of a joyfully partisan home crowd on the streets of Valencia. A tyre choice error in qualifying left the Asturian down in 11th, but that was only a red flag to the Spanish bull. The home hero used all his overtaking acumen to work his way up to 2nd before an engine failure for Sebastian Vettel meant a ‘Nando win became inevitable. Cue an emotional Alonso getting out of his car to celebrate in front of his fans.
Felipe Massa: 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix
If you weren’t a Lewis Hamilton fan, then it looked to be the fairytale ending to a hard-fought season. The popular Felipe Massa could only become champion by winning at Interlagos and he did so in dominant fashion from pole.
Hamilton only had to finish fifth to deny the Brazilian but it was looking to be a tall order on a rainy afternoon. We all know how it ended: one corner less and Massa’s home crowd would have erupted with emotion.
Louis Chiron: 1931 Monaco Grand Prix
Just one Monégasque driver has won the Monaco Grand Prix, and you need to go all the way back to 1931 when Louis Chiron’s Bugatti crossed the finish line first in only the third time that the race was held.
Chiron had championed the idea of a race through the Principality and came close to winning the previous year, in an exciting duel with Réné Dreyfus. Despite Chiron leading for most of the 100 laps, it was the Frenchman, a fellow Bugatti driver, who won by a margin of just two seconds.
The following year was nothing like as close. Starting behind Dreyfus and Achille Varzi, Chiron set the pace and took the lead on lap 27. The reaction was captured win the original Motor Sport report: “The public excitement was terrific for Chiron is a native of Monaco and a great favourite.”
From then on, Chiron was unassailable, eventually finishing almost four minutes ahead of Luigi Fagioli. Its a feat that has never been repeated, but Charles Leclerc is better-placed than any driver since to win at home in Monte Carlo.
Scuderia Toro Rosso: 2008 Italian Grand Prix
At the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, Scuderia Toro Rosso proved that nice guys can — and do — win. The Faenza-based team, for so long seen as the archetypal backmarker under its previous guise as Minardi, had a day of domination it would never forget. Young
charge Sebastian Vettel aced qualifying, becoming the youngest ever F1 pole-sitter.
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was 2nd though, so normality was expected to be restored come raceday. It never happened. Vettel put in a performance beyond his years to school the field, become the youngest – ever grand prix winner and make history for the little Italian team at its home race.
Jim Clark: 1965 British Grand Prix
Champions need more than raw speed alone, as demonstrated by Jim Clark at Silverstone in 1965, where a straightforward victory rapidly looked to be headed for disaster when his engine developed a misfire and then started losing oil.
Behind him was a charging Graham Hill, but Clark managed to nurse his car home with pace and patience to cross the line with only 3.2sec in hand.
Giuseppe Farina: 1950 Italian Grand Prix
The first Formula 1 World Champion is also the only one to have secured the title with a home win. By the time of the final race of the season at Monza, only Alfa Romeo drivers remained in contention; Juan Manuel Fangio at the top of the table, followed by Farina and Luigi Fagioli.
But it would be a race decided on reliability as Fangio, starting from pole, was forced to retire his car then commandeer the Alfa of team-mate Piero Taruffi. When that car’s engine expired, his challenge was over and Farina was headed for victory in the Italian Grand Prix and the championship.
Lewis Hamilton: 2008 British Grand Prix
If there were still any doubts as to Lewis Hamilton’s talent a year and a half into his F1 career, they evaporated at Silverstone in 2008 — unlike the puddles on the circuit.
The wet race offered Hamilton an opportunity to demonstrate his brilliance. Starting fourth, he was up to second by the first corner and in the lead on lap five. He navigated the rain showers expertly and won by more than a minute, with only two drivers — Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello — unlapped. He left at the top of the championship table, tied with Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa.
Alain Prost: 1981 French Grand Prix
Your first Formula 1 race victory doesn’t need any gilding, but Alain Prost got the bonus of standing atop the podium in front of a home crowd at Paul Ricard.
The Renault driver had lost fourth gear, but was still catching the Brabham of race-leader Nelson Piquet who also had trouble, with a sticking throttle. Rain triggered a red flag, enabling both cars to be repaired, and it was Prost who got the jump on the restart, and disappeared into the distance; his soft-compound Michelin tyres bringing an advantage over Piquet’s harder Goodyears.
Damon Hill – 1994 British Grand Prix
Hill was under immense pressure in ‘94 after being forced into taking the lead Williams driver role following Ayrton Senna’s death; he now also trailed Michael Schumacher 29 points to 70 in the drivers’ championship. Coming into Silverstone, only a home win would do, and that’s what he delivered. Hill’s emotional description of the after-race scenes, detailed in the January 2021 issue of Motor Sport demonstrated how he, like few others, can articulate the human side of being an F1 driver.
Stirling Moss: 1955 British Grand Prix
Did Juan Manuel Fangio let Stirling Moss win his home race for the first time? Who knows? Who cares also, for this was a fine drive from Mr Motor Racing. Running round Aintree Racecourse, the two Silver Arrows drivers were the thoroughbreds of the field. Though they traded places in the early laps, the Brit ultimately led 80 of the Grand Prix’s 90 tours, eventually winning his first world championship race by 0.2sec from Fangio.
Niki Lauda: 1984 Austrian Grand Prix
Niki Lauda knew that McLaren team-mate Alain Prost had him beaten on raw pace alone. Working on his race set-up, the Austrian managed to out-prof ‘The Prof’ by being in better shape of a Sunday. This time out at the Osterreichring, Lauda was 3rd early on behind Prost, but his stablemate spun off on oil. The wily ‘Rat’ then closed down and passed Nelson Piquet to take his first and only home win.
Nigel Mansell: 1985 European Grand Prix
Mansell’s move to Williams in 1985 brought the hope of a debut race win, and he did it on home soil — on the second grand prix of the season to be held in Britain.
It may have been the European Grand Prix but the Brands Hatch crowd were only cheering for one man. Typically for Mansell, he injected drama into the process by dropping to fourth on he first lap. He did make it into the lead, but the win was never certain. As Denis Jenkinson’s race report tells it: “With the end in sight Mansell kept going by sheer will power and determination, so much so that he was completely flaked-out at the finish.”
James Hunt: 1977 British Grand Prix
A poor start from Hunt meant that the polesitter ran fourth on the first lap, as John Watson sped into the lead. As the race went on and Hunt recovered, the Silverstone crowd seemed assured of a home winner, but would it be Watson or the chasing Hunt?
The answer came sooner than expected, as Watson’s slowing Brabham headed for the pits with dropping fuel pressure.
Ludovico Scarfiotti: 1966 Italian Grand Prix
Scarfiotti won a single grand prix in his career. Not that any additional wins were likely to compare to the experience of a debut victory at Monza in a Ferrari. When you’re Italian.
Seventh after the first lap, Scarfiotti had worked his way into the lead by lap 13. As the race went on, he sat comfortably in the leas, as Mike Parkes and Denny Hulme battled behind for second.
Ayrton Senna: 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix
By 1991, Senna was a double world champion, popularly seen as the greatest driver of his era, and drove for the most dominant team. And yet a home victory in Brazil had so far eluded him.
Interlagos brought hope for the 70,000-strong crowd in 1991 as Senna first held off a chasing Mansell, then pulled away as the Williams pitted. Victory looked certain — and then impossible, as the McLaren began losing gears, leaving Senna stuck in sixth. Mansell had retired but Riccardo Patrese’s Williams was catching and the final gap was 2.99sec: too close for comfort but enough for an exhausted Senna to finally win in Brazil.
Fernando Alonso 2006 Spanish Grand Prix
Just like his Valencia win, Fernando Alonso started this race from further down in the pack and had to pull off some magic to get his Ferrari to the top step. A sublime overtake at Turn Three around the outside of Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton put him into third and Ferrari was punchy with its strategy. A four-stop race was the way to go and the Spaniard added a second victory on home soil, and currently his final one in Formula 1 to date.
Nigel Mansell: 1991 British Grand Prix
The Motor Sport report from Silverstone tells it best: “He made fastest time in the Friday morning test-session, fastest time in the Friday Qualifying period, fastest time on Saturday morning, fastest again in Saturday Qualifying, fastest in the Sunday morning “warm-up” session, and fastest lap in the race which set a new record for the new Silverstone circuit.”
There only ever looked like being one winner at Silverstone in 1991, but it was the atmosphere that made it a magical afternoon: the thunderous encouragement from the grandstands; the taxi ride that Mansell offered to Senna; and the crowd that invaded the track to celebrate the win, then calmly returned to their seats for the support races.
Read the full Home-Win Legends feature in the January 2021 issue of Motor Sport