Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the rest of Formula One’s elite drivers have descended on Northamptonshire for the British Grand Prix this weekend.
Ahead of Sunday’s race, we look back at five dramatic moments in England.
A year dominated by Mercedes – something that would sound all too familiar these days. Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina went on to clinch the third of his five world titles that year, but he didn’t win the British Grand Prix at Aintree. Instead, a 26-year-old named Stirling Moss pipped the legendary South American to victory by only a matter of metres. The Briton led a Mercedes 1-2-3-4 to seal the first of his 16 race wins.
The year of James Hunt v Niki Lauda. Hunt had a poor start to the race and Lauda pulled away. But the Austrian sustained a broken rear wheel at the first corner and his car spun. Several more cars were damaged as a result of the debris, including Hunt’s. After some clever work from the mechanics, Lauda went on to beat Hunt after the McLaren driver was disqualified. The Briton, however, would win the drivers title that year – by just one point.
One of the races that will be remembered the most. Nigel Mansell broke the Silverstone lap record 11 times to chase down his Williams-Honda teammate Nelson Piquet, passing the Brazilian with three laps remaining at Stowe corner. It was the third of Mansell’s five wins in the 1987 campaign and second successive win at Silverstone. Piquet won the world title that season, finishing 12 points ahead of his teammate.
Remarkably the only race ever to be won in the pit lane. Starting from second on the grid, Michael Schumacher was handed a 10 second stop-go penalty for overtaking under the safety car with two laps to go. At the end of the final lap, the German came in to serve his penalty but crossed the finish line in the pit lane to win the race. McLaren, who finished second, protested but the controversial penalty was later rescinded. Mika Hakkinen, who finished second that day, lifted the first of his back-to-back world titles in 1998.
Eight years on from David Coulthard’s win in 2000, no Britain had won the home race at Silverstone. In wet conditions, Lewis Hamilton produced a masterclass to navigate the slippery track in Northamptonshire, finishing more than a minute ahead of title rival Felipe Massa. It was the third of his five victories that season en route to lifting his maiden world championship. Ten years on, the 33-year-old is eyeing a fifth world crown and sixth win at the home of racing.
The Finn qualified on the front row in Austria and, despite a slow start, pulled his way back to second only to have to retire after 13 laps due to mechanical failure.
It is unlikely Bottas would have had enjoyed a Hollywood ending in Spielberg, especially if both Mercedes cars remained in the race, but if things had gone his way he could certainly have been at the sharp end of the championship alongside his teammate.
As a result of his retirement, that’s potentially 24 points lost in two weeks – after being taken out by Vettel at the first corner in France last week when he qualified on the front row at Paul Ricard.
“The luck I’m having this year feels like a bit of a bad joke,” Bottas said after the race in Austria on Sunday.
“My start was not ideal – I had quite a bit of wheel spin, and there was less grip than we expected so I dropped a few places. Going into Turn 3 I could recover two places and was back in second place.
“After that, the car felt strong, we were running well, but then I suddenly experienced a loss of hydraulic pressure.”
The 28-year-old is now sixth in the drivers’ standings on 92 points, a place where he doesn’t deserve to be, with title leader Vettel 54 points ahead and Hamilton one point behind the German.
Since hitting a wall in qualifying in Melbourne, the Monaco resident has been superb and has gone on to qualify second or third in nearly every race this season, except Monaco where his lack of pace saw him start from fifth on the grid.
In Bahrain, he missed out on overtaking Vettel on the last lap – where he perhaps showed too much caution and effectively bottled his chance of victory, with stronger tyres over the German’s faded rubber.
But it was in Shanghai and Baku where his misfortune cost him valuable points.
In China, Mercedes’ poor decision-making on not pitting during the safety car saw Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – on fresher tyres – come from nowhere to snatch a remarkable victory from Bottas, who was leading up until lap 45.
Two weeks later in Azerbaijan, he led again after a safety car, but with three laps remaining sustained a puncture from running over debris and lost what looked like a guaranteed 25 points – and first victory of the season.
If luck was on his side in Baku, Bahrain and Shanghai, it could have been the former Williams man sitting alongside Vettel and Hamilton at the top of the standings.
Although he lacks the killer-instinct of both men in those pressurised situations – often the tipping point between winning and losing – he is clearly one of the most talented drivers on the circuit.
But for all his setbacks this season, Bottas has done enough to be retained by Mercedes in 2019, given his four podium finishes and positive relationship with Hamilton.
The gap may be lengthy when you look at the title standings in reality, but the Finn – for all his bad luck – must be left wondering if he will ever be able to reach the rarefied air shared by Vettel and Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton lamented his retirement in Austria as the “worst race he can remember for a long time” following a Mercedes blunder that cost him victory and the lead in the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton will head into his home race at Silverstone in just six days one point behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel after the Briton failed to finish following a mechanical failure.
The defending champion had already accused Mercedes of costing him a straightforward win after, and not for the first time this season, they failed to react to a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period, caused
by Valtteri Bottas’ retirement in the sister car, and stop him for new tyres.
Hamilton dropped from first to fourth, and following a series of furious exchanges with the Mercedes pit wall, he then ran out of power with only seven laps remaining.
“This is definitely the worst weekend I can remember us having for a long time,” Hamilton said.
“I am not going to lie, we’re going to have to work on all areas. We can’t afford to throw away points. We need to find a bulletproof method to move forward.
“We have lost a lot of points this year through bad calls and reliability. Everyone is going to be feeling the pain.
“We have had such great reliability for so many years and as painful as it is, we have to take the rough with the smooth. But I have every confidence in my team that we will be able to bounce back.”
Hamilton’s retirement, his first in 33 races, ensured a 15-point championship swing in Vettel’s favour.
Mercedes have dominated the sport since 2014, but mistakes are creeping in under the fiercer competition provided by both Ferrari and Red Bull this year.
In Austria, apparently distracted by Bottas stopping on track following a lack of hydraulic pressure, they took their eye off the ball, and when the VSC was deployed to slow down the pack, Hamilton, unlike all of his rivals, did not stop for fresh rubber.
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes chief, dismissed the need for a knee-jerk reaction, even though he admitted it had been his most painful day in his years with the team.
“We don’t need to make changes,” he said. “The situation is very complex this year. We are fighting six cars.
“We made a mistake. We were controlling the race, running one and two, and suddenly Valtteri stopped. The VSC came out, we had half-a-lap to react and we didn’t. Fact. This is where we lost the race.”