Flashback: Ferrari has a date with history at Silverstone

Fernando Alonso drives a 1951 Ferrari 375 at Silverstone

Fernando Alonso drives a 1951 Ferrari 375 at Silverstone

This Sunday’s race is the 65th British Grand Prix – it and the Italian event at Monza are the only two races never to have dropped off the Formula 1 calendar.

Silverstone was originally an old wartime airfield and the track used the perimeter roads. On 13th May 1950 it hosted the first ever race in the new world championship, with Alfa Romeo taking the top three places, watched by King George VI, with the legendary ‘three Fs,’ Farina, Fangio and Fagioli.

Ferrari was not at this race, showing up for the next round in Monaco, but Silverstone still played an important part in the Prancing Horse’s history. It was in 1951 here that it took its first Formula 1 victory on 14th July, courtesy of the Argentinian Jose Froilan Gonzalez in the 375 F1.

Apart from Silverstone, which this weekends hosts the race for the 48th time, the British GP has also been held at Aintree (5 times), and on the Kent track of Brands Hatch. Ferrari has won in the UK 16 times, almost a one in four hit rate, with 15 poles and 51 podiums overall.

The ’51 win signaled the start of a dominant run for Ferrari at Silverstone, with Alberto Ascari winning in 1952 and 1953 in the 500, Gonzalez again in 1954 in the 625 F1, the race was run at Aintree in ’55 and ’57, then Fangio, in 1956, was victorious in the D50, while ’58 produced a home win for Peter Collins in the 246 F1, who led home his compatriot and team-mate Mike Hawthorn.

In 1961, Ferrari broke its Aintree taboo dominating, taking the top three places with the 156 F1 in the order, Germany’s Wolfgang von Trips and the Americans Phil Hill and Richie Ginther.

Fernando Alonso won the 2011 British GP

Fernando Alonso won the 2011 British GP

The next 15 years were barren and the Italian anthem would not be heard again in England until 1976 when Niki Lauda won at Brands in the 312 T2, having also taken pole and set the race fastest lap. Two years later, Argentina’s Carlos Reutemann won in the 312 T3. 1990 was the final year that Silverstone’s ultra-fast layout was used, before it was modified to reduce speeds, with Ferrari winning. Nigel Mansell took pole at an average speed of 255 km/h, but it was Prost who took the win in the other F1-90.

The first Ferrari driver to win on the new layout was Michael Schumacher, who took first place in the 1998 race, coming in on the very last lap for a 10 second stop-go penalty. The following year, the German had his worst racing accident when he went off at Stowe corner and broke his right leg, thus missing a large part of the season.

Ferrari won again from 2002 to 2004, with Schumacher then Barrichello and then Schumacher again, while in 2007, Kimi Raikkonen was first past the flag. The last victory on British soil dates back to 2011, when Fernando Alonso made Ferrari fans happy. The Spaniard did a great job in the early wet stages,then left his opponents trailing.This was also the occasion when yet another new layout (now at 5.891 kilometres) layout was used for the first time. (Ferrari)