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Formula 1 British GP

Circuits to have hosted the F1 British Grand Prix since its debut

There are four circuits which have hosted the Formula 1 British Grand Prix since it began.

A scenic view of Silverstone from the pit straight grandstand

A scenic view of Silverstone from the pit straight grandstand

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The British GP has become synonymous with its now permanent home of Silverstone circuit, which is widely regarded as one of the best tracks in the world.

Silverstone, which lies in Northamptonshire, also hosted F1’s inaugural race in 1950 but it has not been the venue for every British GP since.

In fact, it’s only been the permanent host since 1987 as the British GP alternated its venue virtually every year up to that point.

So where else has hosted the British GP and which driver is the most successful at that track?

Huge crowd support for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Huge crowd support for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Brooklands

Times hosted the British GP: 2 (1926-27)
Most wins: Robert Senechal, Louis Wagner and Robert Benoist (1)

The British GP is actually older than F1 as its debut was in 1926, then named the GP of the Royal Automobile Club, after Briton Henry Segrave had raised interest in the sport by winning the 1923 French GP and 1924 San Sebastián GP.

So, the United Kingdom wanted a grand prix of its own and the old Brooklands circuit, which now serves as a museum, was the designated host as it was the birthplace of British motorsport.

Brooklands opened in 1907 and was the world’s first purpose-built racing circuit, so it was inevitable that the 2.767-mile oval, built on an aerodrome, became the host especially when the likes of Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Aintree and Donington Park were not even open yet.

Frenchmen Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner won the inaugural British GP, which served as round two for the 1926 World Manufacturers’ Championship season, despite starting the race in separate cars.

But Wagner’s #10 Delage retired after just six laps due to a misfiring engine, so he took over Senechal’s leading #14 car when 83 of 110 tours were completed. But at that point, high temperatures were taking its toll on the drivers so Wagner’s lead dwindled when he regularly stopped to bathe his feet in cold water.

Yet, the Delage pair held on for victory as reliability problems struck many others, meaning just three of nine cars finished the race. Another Frenchman won the British GP the following year as Robert Benoist, who finished third in 1926, crossed the line just seven seconds ahead of Edmond Bourlier to cap off a world championship-winning season for Delage.

That was the final British GP to be held at Brooklands though, as the event did not return in 1928 while the circuit closed in August 1939 which was a month before the outbreak of World War Two.

Silverstone

Alex Albon, Williams FW46, Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Alex Albon, Williams FW46, Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Times hosted the British GP: 59 (1948-54, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987-present)
Most wins: Lewis Hamilton (8)

Silverstone ended a 21-year hiatus for the event when it first became the host in 1948, three years after the conclusion of the Second World War which had left Brooklands so damaged that the circuit became abandoned.

Britain’s second biggest circuit at the time, Donington Park, was also damaged so a new track was needed and the RAC took on a one-year lease of the Silverstone airfield.

So, the private club set about creating a circuit out of it and a 3.67-mile track was created, which included turning the runways into long, wide straights while corners like Copse, Stowe and Club were formed - though not with the same design they have today.

Italian Luigi Villoresi won the first grand prix to be held at Silverstone, as the Maserati driver beat runner-up and eventual two-time F1 world champion Alberto Ascari by 14s, after claiming the lead on lap three and never losing position from there.

Maserati claimed victory again in 1949 as Swissman Emmanuel de Graffenried won by over a minute, before the event finally adopted the ‘British GP’ tag when it opened the newly-formed F1 world championship in 1950.

That started a dominant season for Alfa Romeo, who won six of seven rounds beginning with victory for the eventual world champion Giuseppe Farina at Silverstone. Silverstone hosted the next four British GPs until 1955, when it began serving as co-host alongside Aintree with both tracks alternating each year.

During that period, Juan Manuel Fangio, Peter Collins, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark all claimed a win each at Silverstone, until it started co-hosting the British GP with Brands Hatch from 1964, using the same deal as before.

Silverstone and Brands Hatch alternated each year until 1987, during which Clark won the most British GPs in Northamptonshire with three ahead of Jackie Stewart and Alain Prost on two.

But F1 started to outgrow Brands Hatch, as governing body FISA insisted on circuits now having long-term contracts. Given Silverstone was deemed the better venue due to its facilities being to a higher standard, while a lack of run-off areas at Brands Hatch - something Silverstone had in abundance - were also a concern, it signed a long-term deal.

So, from 1987, Silverstone was the permanent home of the British GP yet some renovations were still completed like the addition of a chicane along Farm Straight. Silverstone has since undergone various layout changes, amid many failed bids from Donington to become the event’s new host.

But, that never stopped Silverstone from staging British GPs that will be remembered for decades to come, whether it’s Nigel Mansell’s famous victory in 1992 when fans swarmed his car afterwards, Lewis Hamilton’s wet-weather masterclass in 2008 or when he won again in 2021 after colliding with title rival Max Verstappen on the opening lap.

The 2021 race gave Hamilton a record-extending eighth British GP victory and there should be many opportunities for the seven-time world champion to win again at Silverstone, as its F1 contract runs until 2034.

Aintree

Tony Brooks, Tony Vandervell, Stirling Moss after winning for Vanwall.

Tony Brooks, Tony Vandervell, Stirling Moss after winning for Vanwall.

Photo by: LAT Photographic

Times hosted the British GP: 5 (1955, 1957, 1959, 1961-62)
Most wins: Stirling Moss (2)

Horse racing at Aintree dates back to 1829 which was 10 years before it hosted the inaugural Grand National and - except for a three-year stint during the First World War - the prestigious event has remained in Liverpool ever since.

Another famous racecourse in England is Goodwood in West Sussex, which also has a circuit and hosts events like Festival of Speed and Revival. Noticing how much success those events brought to Goodwood, Aintree wanted something like that up north so it built a racing circuit in 1954 before hosting its first British GP the following year.

Stirling Moss won on Aintree’s F1 debut, as he claimed victory from pole at the 1955 British GP. But, he crossed the line just 0.2s ahead of Mercedes team-mate Fangio at the high-speed, three-mile circuit that featured eight corners.

As it was alternating with Silverstone, the British GP returned to Aintree in 1957 when Moss shared his victory with Tony Brooks. That is because it was agreed that should Moss’ #18 Vanwall retire - which it did on lap 51 when the engine failed - he would take over the #20 car of Brooks, who was still recovering from his crash at the previous month’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

When the switch occurred, Moss was down in ninth but his strong pace and reliability problems for others saw Vanwall become the first British team to win the British GP, while it’s also the last time two drivers have won the same grand prix.

Moss also remained the only driver to win multiple British GPs at Aintree, as the final three races were won by Brabham (1959), Wolfgang Von Trips (1961) and Clark (1962) before F1 decided to move on from the increasingly dangerous track.

The old Aintree circuit can still be seen within the racecourse and it often plays host to track days run by the Liverpool Motor Club.

Brands Hatch

Peter Gethin, BRM P160B during practice

Peter Gethin, BRM P160B during practice

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Times hosted the British GP: 12 (1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986)
Most wins: Niki Lauda (3)

Brands Hatch became the third British track to host a round of the F1 world championship, as it replaced Aintree in the deal to co-host the British GP with Silverstone. This came after the construction of the grand prix loop at Brands Hatch, originally opened in 1950, which hosted its first British GP in 1964.

And it proved to be a hit amongst drivers who liked the elevation changes of the 2.65-mile circuit, which featured several high-speed bends as Clark won the first British GP to be held in Kent.

It would actually take a while for there to be a repeat winner at Brands Hatch, as Brabham next won in 1966 before becoming world champion that year, while Jo Stiffert claimed his first of two grand prix victories in 1968.

Victories for Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Niki Lauda, Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones all followed, until the eventual triple world champion became F1’s first two-time winner at the circuit in 1982.

Lauda even went back-to-back in 1984 to help him clinch a third title that season, before Mansell won the final British GP at Brands Hatch two years later when he overtook Williams team-mate Nelson Piquet en route to victory.

During that period, the circuit underwent various changes, but none were enough to keep its place on the F1 calendar due to the new requirement from FISA.

Another factor that favoured Silverstone was the location of Brands Hatch, as it is situated in an old forest meaning the circuit had limited room to change, unlike its Northamptonshire counterpart.

So, Brands Hatch was never to host an F1 grand prix again, but the track continues today with many national championships visiting the still popular circuit.

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