Six of the best British Grand Prix races at Silverstone

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The British Grand Prix faces an uncertain future after Silverstone gave notice of its intent to leave the sport in 2019.

The Northamptonshire circuit has hosted a Formula One race since 1987, while the British Grand Prix has been an ever-present on the calendar since the world championship began in 1950.

Ahead of Sunday’s race, Press Association Sport looks back at six of the best Silverstone races.

1981

John Watson sealed an unlikely but highly popular victory. The Northern Irishman started fifth on the grid but had fallen to 10th by the end of lap three.

Alan Jones and Gilles Villeneuve then clashed, Nelson Piquet suffered a tyre failure and after passing Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti before Alain Prost’s engine let go, Watson was up to second.

He then hustled Rene Arnoux, whose engine began to falter with 15 laps left.

With seven laps left, the Frenchman’s lead had evaporated and Watson claimed one of his five grands prix wins.

John Watson.

John Watson.

1987

Nigel Mansell was forced to pit for a new set of tyres after reporting extreme vibrations on his Williams.

With 30 laps remaining he was the best part of half a minute behind his team-mate and fierce rival Piquet.

The chase appeared impossible but, spurred on by his home crowd, Mansell smashed the lap record on nine occasions before catching and passing Piquet after an exquisite move at Stowe with only two laps left.

The home crowd were euphoric and Mansell responded by leaping out of his Williams on his victory lap and kissing the tarmac where he passed his great rival.

Nigel Mansell.

Nigel Mansell.

1994

Michael Schumacher illegally overtook pole-sitter Damon Hill on the parade lap and was ordered to serve a stop-and-go penalty.

A black flag was then issued, which should have resulted in Schumacher’s instant disqualification.

But the German kept going and eventually opted to pull into the pits on lap 27 to serve his earlier stop-and-go penalty.

Hill went on to claim a crucial victory and was presented with the winner’s trophy by Princess Diana.

Schumacher finished second, but he was later disqualified for ignoring the black flag and subsequently handed a two-race ban.

Damon Hill.

Damon Hill.

1998

Schumacher was at the centre of controversy again four years later after winning the race while stationary in the pit-lane.

Mika Hakkinen had led from the start, but as the rain fell and conditions deteriorated, the Finn lost control of his McLaren and spun.

The safety car was deployed, and while Hakkinen remained in the race, he had sustained damage to his front wing.

His 40-second lead was wiped out and Schumacher looked odds-on to win.

The German, however, had illegally passed Alexander Wurz under a yellow flag, which should have resulted in a stop-and-go penalty. But the haphazard stewards only announced his penalty with two laps left.

Schumacher entered the pits on the final lap but had already crossed the start-finish line and won the race. The bizarre result stood despite McLaren’s protests.

Michael Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher.

2003

Rubens Barrichello claimed one of the greatest victories of his career in an all-time F1 classic.

The Ferrari driver started from pole but slipped to eighth after a safety car was deployed when a protester stormed the track along the 200mph Hangar Straight.

But the Brazilian turned in one of the finest displays of his career to carve his way back through the field before executing a wonderful move on McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen on lap 42 to claim the lead, and ultimately, the race victory.

Rubens Barrichello.

Rubens Barrichello.

2008

Lewis Hamilton arrived at his home race fourth in the drivers’ standings but left on top after storming to victory in one of the outstanding performances by a British driver in recent years.

In torrential rain Hamilton blitzed the field, finishing the race almost 70 seconds ahead of second-placed Nick Heidfeld and lapped the entire pack up to third.

Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton.

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Bottas on the move and four other key talking points ahead of British Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will arrive at the British Grand Prix 20 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the race for this year’s championship.

Hamilton, 32, will be bidding to become the first driver to win at Silverstone on four consecutive occasions.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the title battle, and the other major talking points ahead of the ninth round of the campaign.

HAMILTON ON HOLIDAY

Hamilton lost further ground to Vettel after he finished only fourth at last Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, and the Briton took the rather peculiar step of going on a two-day holiday in between the Spielberg race and his home grand prix on Sunday.

Hamilton will also be the only current driver absent from the London demonstration on Wednesday night – a move which has irked the sport’s new owners.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team claim the Englishman is entitled to a break, but one wonders whether there is more to it.

His timing certainly seems curious, given the British Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, and he will have time for a break next month when the sport heads for its traditional summer shutdown.

If he is not on the pace in front of his home crowd, further questions will be asked.

Hamilton spend two days on holidays in Greece this week.

Hamilton spent two days on holidays in Greece this week.

BRITISH GP CAST INTO DOUBT

The British Grand Prix faces being chalked off the calendar beyond 2019 after Silverstone’s owners delivered the sport’s worst-kept secret by activating a break clause in its contract.

The British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, are hopeful they will be able to renegotiate a more financially-viable deal with Liberty Media, Formula One’s new American owners.

It is a risky strategy, and one which could backfire if Liberty refuse to play ball.

Yet, Liberty will not want to lose the longest-serving grand prix on the calendar during the formative months of their reign.

Surely, it will be a case of when, and not if, a new contract is announced.

2019 will be the last year of the race unless a new deal is brokered with Liberty Media.

BOTTAS ON THE MOVE

Valtteri Bottas’ victory in Austria has forced Hamilton to look over his shoulder after the Finn moved to within 15 points of his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton was expected to be the de facto number one at Mercedes this season following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement – but Bottas has recorded two victories, just one fewer than Hamilton, and out-qualified the Briton on a number of occasions, too.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said the team will determine whether to keep Bottas beyond this season after he signed only a one-year deal.

For the moment at least, it would appear a no-brainer.

Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas.

ALONSO AIMING TO BOUNCE BACK

Fernando Alonso is hopeful he will bounce back from another torrid weekend in Austria.

The double world champion was punted out of the Spielberg race on the first lap following an over-exuberant move by Daniil Kvyat at turn one.

Alonso, who will determine his future during the summer break, has failed to finish six of the eight races he has competed in this year.

“I really enjoy the challenge of this Silverstone circuit, and a good result there always feels like it’s well-deserved, because it’s a tricky track and a tough race,” Alonso said.

“I hope we will have more luck at our home race than we did last weekend in Austria. It was an unfortunate incident and I hope we can bounce back.”

Fernando Alonso.

Fernando Alonso.

CHANGES AT SAUBER

Former Renault chief Frederic Vasseur has been handed the reins at Sauber after he was announced as Monisha Kaltenborn’s replacement on Wednesday.

Frenchman Vasseur parted company with Renault after just one lacklustre season, but has been deemed as the right person to turn Sauber’s fortunes around.

The Swiss outfit are last but one in the constructors’ championship having scored only five points this season. Vasseur will officially start his new role on Monday.

Can Sauber change their fortunes under a new leader?

Can Sauber change their fortunes under a new leader?

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British GP future uncertain as Silverstone trigger break clause in contract

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2019 will be the last year of the race unless a new deal is brokered with Liberty Media.

The British Grand Prix faces extinction from the Formula One calendar after Silverstone’s owners triggered a break clause in its contract on Tuesday.

The British Racing Drviers’ Club, which owns the Northamptonshire circuit, gave notice of its intent to leave its current deal in two years’ time.

Its decision means 2019 will be the last year for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone unless a new deal is brokered with F1’s American owners Liberty Media.

Nearly 140,000 spectators watched triple world champion Lewis Hamilton claim his third consecutive win at Silverstone last year.

And a near sell-out crowd is expected again this weekend as Hamilton bids to reduce rival Sebastian Vettel’s 20-point lead at the summit of the championship.

But the demands of the hosting fee which goes up by five per cent every year – from £12million in 2010, the year in which the new long-term deal started, to £16m this season and £25m in 2026 – is crippling Silverstone.

Liberty Media has staged a series of talks with both the BRDC and Silverstone.

But while Silverstone wants to continue its relationship with Formula One, it will not do so at the cost of financial ruin.

The Northamptonshire circuit, unlike many other tracks on the F1 calendar, receives no government backing.

“This decision has been taken because it is not financially viable for us to deliver the British Grand Prix under the terms of our current contract,” BRDC chairman John Grant said.

“We sustained losses of £2.8m in 2015 and £4.8m in 2016, and we expect to lose a similar amount this year.

“We have reached the tipping point where we can no longer let our passion for the sport rule our heads. It would not only risk the very future of Silverstone and the BRDC, but also the British motorsport community that depends on us.

“However, I want to be clear that although we have now activated the break clause, we are fully supportive of the changes the Liberty team are making to improve the F1 experience.

“Our hope is that an agreement can still be reached, so that we can ensure a sustainable and financially viable future for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for many years to come.”

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