Successful Formula One Countries, Part One: Great Britain

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Successful Formula One Countries, Part One: Great Britain

Welcome to a three part-series which provides detail on Formula One's most successful countries (in terms of number of championships). This opening article on Great Britain is the first of three, the second article will be on the country of Brazil and that will be published on Aug. 3. The third and final part of the series will be focusing on Germany and the article will be published on Aug. 5.

History

The country of Great Britain has been deeply involved in Formula One since the start of the world championship in 1950.

In the very first Formula One world championship race, which was held at Silverstone in 1950, Reg Parnell (who?) scored a podium, becoming the youngest man to do so at the time. Since then there has been at least one British driver competing in the Formula One World Championship.

Formula One is important to many people in Britain. Although several people are unhappy with the British Grand Prix moving to Donington Park, they are happy that Britain is still holding a Formula One event.

Did you know that there is a housing estate in Towcester, England, where all the streets are named after former F1 greats? Imagine buying a house on Coulthard Close or Clark Crescent!

 

Drivers

There have been eight British F1 world champions who have captured a total of 12 championships.

The first British driver to win a World Championship was Mike Hawthorn in 1958. Amazingly, he won only one race that season, but was very consistent with podiums (maybe Lewis and Kimi should take a leaf out of his book). 

Another interesting fact is that in 1958, it was a British 1-2-3-4-5 in the final world championship standings.

British drivers then went on to dominate the sport from 1962-1965.

Graham Hill won the title in 1962 and then again in '68.

Then in 1963, one of the greatest ever took his maiden title: Jim Clark. He finished on the podium in every race apart from one, the opening round in the streets of Monte Carlo. His stats from the '63 season are truly amazing. He finished on the podium 90 percent of the time and won 70 percent of the races.

Graham Hill and John Surtees won the other three races, which meant that a British Driver had won at all races that season. Surtees took the title in 1964.

Did you know that John Surtees clinched the title in a blue Ferrari. That's right. Blue. It was because Enzo Ferrari had had an argument with the Italian Automobile Club so he entered the last two races in Mexico and America as a privateer.

We now move into the 1970s. In total contrast to the 1960s, Britain only really had one competitive driver, and that was Jackie Stewart.

Stewart had a great rookie season, finishing third in the final championship standings. He took one win.

He then was uncompetitive for a few years but then won the WDC in 1969. He won his home race and helped win the constructors title for Matra, which was their first and only championship.

Stewart won again in 1971 and 1973 and was very dominant in the Tyrell. During his time in F1, Stewart broke Clark's record for number of wins and his total stood for 15 years.

He remains to this day Britain's only three-time world champion.

Did you know Jackie Stewart set up his own F1 team? They only managed to win one race, however.

Our next featured driver is Nigel Mansell, everyone's favourite Brummie!

Mansell became incredibly close to winning the World Championship in 1986 and 1987. He suffered a huge crash at the 1987 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, which put him out of the race and the final round in Australia. Had he not had the crash, Mansell would have probably won the title, as Prost failed to score points in the last two races.

Mansell dominated in 1992. He won the first five Grand Prix and, excluding retirements, finished either first or second in every race.

Did you know that Mansell was runner-up three times? He managed to win the title eventually but interestingly Stirling Moss was runner-up a total of four times and never won the title.

The next British Driver to win the WDC was son of two-time world champion Graham Hill. Damon won the title in 1996 after being runner-up to rival Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995.

He won for Williams in 1996 but was dropped by the team for the 1997 season. In 1996 he was partnered by Jacques Villeneuve. This meant that the offspring of two F1 greats were driving together in the same team.

Next up is David Coulthard. He may not have won the championship, but is certainly one of the greatest British drivers.

In his first season in the sport, Coulthard scored 14 points, including a podium finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

He continued racing for Williams in his first full season, finished third in the championship, and also scored his first win.

He went on to race for McLaren. He won 12 more races with them, and his best position in the World Drivers Championship was second.

After reaching his peak at McLaren, Coulthard joined Red Bull Racing in 2005.

He has scored some decent points for the team and achieved two podium finishes, including one at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

Did you know that David Coulthard said his favourite team-mate was either Mika Hakkinen or current world champion Kimi Raikkonen?

Although Lewis Hamilton is still in his second season of F1, he is certainly one of the best British drivers.

I don't want to go into too much detail on Lewis because everyone already knows his F1 career backwards!

He scored nine consecutive podiums in his first nine races and finished second in the world championship in his rookie year. He currently heads the 2008 standings and his best drive to date has to be Silverstone 2008.

 

Circuits

The main circuit to mention has to be Silverstone. As Martin Brundle says, "it is definitely home to the British Grand Prix."

Silverstone was first raced on in 1948 and held the first race in the 1950 World Championship.

The 2.249-mile circuit has been modified nine times but still remains a very fast circuit. Memorable performances have to be Keke Rosberg and his 160-mph qualifying lap and also Alain Prost's victory the following day. Prost lapped every man on the grid at least once.

Did you know that the qualifying lap by Rosberg is still the fastest ever to this day, more than 20 years after it happened?

Fans will be sad to see Silverstone leave the F1 race calendar in 2010.

Taking over from Silverstone is Donington Park.

The British Grand Prix will be held there for 10 years, starting in 2010. Much needs improving though, including circuit layout and access to the circuit. Hopefully the work will be completed, otherwise there will be no British Grand Prix, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

There is a memorial to Ayrton Senna on the grounds of the track for his drive at the 1993 European Grand Prix.

Senna won the race by over a minute from Damon Hill and in the first lap moved up from fifth to first. Many consider it the drive of the decade.

Well, that concludes part one. Hopefully you enjoyed it; please don't forget to rate! Part Two will be on Brazil and will be published on Sunday evening after the race at Hungary.

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