As well as this weekend’s Silverstone venue, the British Grand Prix has also been held at Aintree five times and at Brands Hatch 12 times. In total that makes one per year throughout every world championship that has been held to date. It’s an absolute record, rivalled only by the Italian Grand Prix. And with such a rich history, the great stories clearly abound. So it’s a matter of choosing them carefully.
One of them undoubtedly dates back to Saturday 14 July 1951. The front row of the grid at Silverstone perfectly reflected the intense battle taking place over the course of that season: pole position for José Froilan Gonzalez and his Ferrari, followed by the reigning champions Alfa Romeo, with Fangio faster than Farina. Behind them another Ferrari, driven by Alberto Ascari. The same story played itself out in the race: the first non-Italian car home was Reg Parnell’s BRM. As for the rest, it was an all-Italian dogfight. Fangio kept his Alfa in the lead for 30 of the 90 race laps. But for the other 59, it was Gonzalez in front, who ended up giving the Prancing Horse its very first F1 victory. Clearly, it was a historic occasion. Enzo Ferrari, in one his more quotable moments, reflected: “that day, I felt like I’d killed my mother.” The obvious joy was tempered by the defeat he’d inflicted upon Alfa Romeo: his original team as a driver as well as a sporting director.