The British Grand Prix, held at Silverstone Circuit in the Northamptonshire area, is a highlight on the FIA Formula One season calendar. Henry Segrave first established the British Grand Prix in 1926, after he had won the French Grand Prix in the year 1923 and the Spanish Grand Prix in the following year – achievements which fueled interest in auto racing in the UK.
Since 1950, and the beginning of the Formula One Championship, the Silverstone Circuit has annually been the host of the Formula One British Grand Prix. The French team, with Robert Senechal and Louis Wagner, behind the wheel of a Delage 155B, won the first British Grand Prix. Between the years 1955 to 1962, the race was held at Aintree and between 1964 and 1986, it was at Brands Hatch. But in 1987 the British Grand Prix returned to Silverstone Circuit, where it has remained. The Silverstone Circuit is raced in 60 laps and the total race distance is 308.46 kilometers. In 2003, the Formula One authorities and Silverstone owners entered a heated debate with regard to the maintenance of track facilities. This led to the British Grand Prix being left off the racing schedule for 2005, and great doubts started immerging for the future of British Grand Prix. After heated negotiations, it was agreed that the Silverstone Circuit would host the British Grand Prix, till 2009.
A Formula One street parade that was held in 2004 led to speculation regarding using London as a street circuit venue for the Formula One British Grand Prix. The parade that attracted approximately 500,000 people, also raised speculations that if a London street circuit were to host the British Grand Prix, that it would either alternate between Silverstone Circuit, or replace it completely. Another alternative is that of a completely separate, London Grand Prix venue. Even though the London Mayor sees the street circuit as being beneficial to the city, there is still a difference in opinion amongst the Formula One community.
In mid-2008 it was announced that Donington Park would be hosting the British Grand Prix for a period of ten years from the 2010 event. However, having failed to secure sufficient funds to host the race, the contract was nullified and was re-awarded to Silverstone for a 17-year period. With Silverstone’s newly renovated and redesigned circuit, the British Grand Prix promises to be even more exciting than before.
Born near Birmingham on the 8 August 1953, Nigel Ernest Mansell drove his first car at the age of seven on an open field. He was inspired by Jim Clark, who won the 1962 British Grand Prix, and from then decided he would copy his hero. Like many other Formula One racers he started with cart racing and after much success became the 1977 British Formula Ford champion, regardless of the fact that during the test run he suffered a broken neck. The doctors then informed him that the accident had brought him close to becoming a quadriplegic and that for six months after the accident he was to be confined and would probably never drive again. Nigel sneaked out on the pretense of going to the toilet and raced on.
Nigel Mansell put a lot on line to progress in his racing. Having given up his job as an aerospace engineer and having sold many of his personal items to finance his move into Formula Ford, he was not about to stop now. Later, Mansell and his loyal wife Rosanne sold their home to finance his next move into Formula Three. In 1979, Mansell was again in a near death accident when he collided with another car. For the second time Nigel Mansell was hospitalized, this time with a broken vertebra in his back. With so much at stake he took painkillers to hide the extent of his pain and performed well enough in the Lotus tryouts to become a test driver for the Formula One team.
In 1980 he took part in his Formula One debut at the Austrian Grand Prix. During the race he had a fuel leak in the cockpit, which left him with extremely painful first and second degree burns on his buttocks. In 1985 Nigel moved to Williams, but by the end of that season he had had no victories to show for the 71 Grand Prix starts he had taken part in. However, after that he became a prolific winner, starting with the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. In a period of 18 months he won 11 races but was unable to achieve two World Championships. In 1986 his season came to an end when his tyre burst in Adelaide.
Nigel Mansell fuelled his motivational fires with adverse situations and if they did not exist he went out of his way to create them. Although this caused many conflicts within the Williams team, the fans loved him for the pure unadulterated aggression with which he raced. In 1988 an opportunity came up at Ferrari and Mansell took it with both hands. In 1989 his debut with Ferrari came with a win, which endured him to his Italian fans who called him “The Lion”. At Hungaroring he qualified at a seemingly hopeless 12th on a track that was known to be impossible to overtake on. But Mansell stormed through the field and managed to just get pass Senna’s McLaren and win the race.
At the end of the season Nigel announced that he would be retiring for the season but a couple of months later came back onto the racing scene with Williams. 1991 saw him winning five times in the Williams-Renault but he was unable to take the title. In 1992 this changed and he was declared World Champion after winning nine out of the 16 races in his Williams-Renault FW14B. But with grieviances over money and the prospect of having his arch enemy as his 1993 team mate he retired from Williams and started with IndyCar racing in America where he dominated, becoming the 1993 IndyCar champion. A year later Williams talked him into returning for four more races, the last of which he won from pole position. In 1995 he raced two more times with McLaren but decided once and for all to retire after 187 races over 15 chaotic seasons. Nigel Mansell retired from racing to run several business enterprises and now lives a much quieter life with his wife and three children, taking part in a couple of racing events from time to time.