Stirling Moss: 1955, 1957
It took the Brits six tries to crack their home grand prix and it took their greatest driver and the car the Germans came back to Formula One with. Held at Aintree, it was the only race of the season where Moss managed to beat his teammate Juan Manuel Fangio, who went on to claim his third world title. As his win came after a pass at the last corner, Moss wondered whether Fangio had let him win, but the Argentine would always say: “No. You were just better than me that day.” British-Argentine relations would, in a few decades, take a turn for the worse.
Photo Credit: Daimler Global Media. Moss is driving his Mercedes-Benz W196 to victory at Aintree.
Tony Brooks: 1957
Dr. Brooks—he was a dentist by training—was the first Brit to drive a British car to grand prix victory after World War Two, winning a non-championship race in Syracuse. His win, shared with Stirling Moss, was his first of six victories in Formula One.
Peter Collins: 1958
Collins was an up-and-coming driver at Ferrari, much liked by il Commendatore himself, whom Juan Manuel Fangio passed on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 1957 to take his last win.
In 1958, driving the Ferrari 246 F1, he took his third and last victory in front of his home crowd at Silverstone. Two weeks later, he returned to the scene of his great battle with Fangio. On lap 11 of the 1958 German Grand Prix, he went over the embankment and hit a tree with his head, dying later that afternoon.
John F. Burns of The New York Times, who saw Collins drive to his last win, has written a heartbreaking report on the fair-haired young man, one of many casualties of the brutal 1958 season.
Collins is shown at the 1957 German Grand Prix in his Ferrari.
Jimmy Clark: 1962–1965, 1967
He was the fastest sheep farmer who has ever lived, the very humble soulmate of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, the man who could not put his head around the fact that everyone else was slower on the track. Chapman had a philosophy of building his Loti light enough to last only the duration of the race but not a second more. When the cars held together, Clark would usually win. When not, he would lose out on races—and championships. He dominated his home grand prix like no other Brit, winning a total of five times at Aintree, Silverstone and Brands Hatch.
Three months before he could defend his 1967 win with the dominant Lotus 49B, he lost control of his car at a Formula Two race at the Hockenheimring, crashed into a tree and died from his injuries.
Photo Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive. Bette Hill throws her husband Graham a party to celebrate his homecoming from America where he won the Indianapolis 500 in a Ford-Lola. Graham and his son Damon Hill—who would become a British Grand Prix winner, unlike his dad—push reigning World Formula 1 Champion Jim Clark around on a toy tractor.
Jackie Stewart: 1969, 1971
The man who taught James May how to drive fast won his home grand prix twice—both times in cars which were either French or built with French money. Not that it troubled the cool Scot, who would go on to extend both of his home wins into world championships.
Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images. Stewart is at the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix with fellow Brit Ozzy Osbourne. No pigeons were harmed in the taking of this photo.
James Hunt: 1977
A Silverstone race, it was a battle between party boy Hunt and his Austrian archnemesis Niki Lauda, who returned phoenix-like from the ashes of his fiery crash on the Nürburgring at the 1976 German Grand Prix.
While Hunt held off Lauda by over 18 seconds in front of his home crowd, he had no chance to defend his 1976 world title, which Lauda would win by a wide margin over Jody Scheckter.
This race also marked the Formula One debut of the turbocharged engine, at this point a comically inept device campaigned by Renault, which would over a few short years come to rule the sport.
Photo Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT. All smiles is Mrs. Hunt, three years before James’s home win. Note Hunt’s totally rock and roll breast patch.
John Watson: 1981
Watson was an F1 driver who later became a sports car racer and a broadcast commentator. His win at Silverstone was the second one of his career. He would win three more GP's before moving on to sports cars.
It was the car he drove which marks this race for history: Watson’s McLaren MP4/1 was the first F1 racer made of carbon fiber. Watson drove the plastic tub to its first victory. The material would take over aluminum for the construction of racing cars in a few months.
Photo Credit: Tony Duffy/Getty Image
Nigel Mansell: 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992
While Colin Chapman watched Jim Clark die, it was the other way around with the mustachioed Mansell: it was only at his third year in F1 when Chapman dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 54. His relationship with Lotus’s new management soured after that and he moved on to Williams, then Ferrari—where he witnessed Enzo Ferrari die after selecting him as his last driver, in a motorsports career which spanned six decades.
Mansell would return to Williams to drive their high-tech active-everything cars. He won his fourth and last British Grand Prix with the Williams FW14B, one of the best F1 cars ever made, with which he claimed his only world championship.
Photo Credit: DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images. The other guys pictured here having a killer time at the 1986 Portugese Grand Prix are Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet.
Damon Hill: 1994
His father Graham may be the more famous of the Hills, with his dapper mustache, his six wins at Monaco, his three Formula One world championships and his victories at the Indianapolis 500 and at Le Mans, but he never won the British Grand Prix.
Unlike his son Graham, who won at Silverstone and was then rammed by Michael Schumacher at the last race of the season, denying him the world championship.
Photo Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport. Hill is in his Williams Renault before the Pacific Grand Prix at the TI circuit in Aida, Japan.
Johnny Herbert: 1995
Who’s Johnny Herbert? Why, he raced for a decade in Formula One and won three races, one of them at Silverstone, where duelling championship leaders Schumacher and Hill knocked each other out, allowing the Brit in his Benetton to slip by and claim victory.
Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images. The person you are looking at instead of Johnny Herbert is British model Keeley Hazell.
David Coulthard: 1999, 2000
The man who is to jawbones what Jay Leno is to chins may not be remembered as much of a grand prix winner over his grand total of 15 years in Formula One, but he’s managed to take both Monaco and Silverstone twice. In both of his wins, he was sitting pretty in the sister car to Mika Häkkinen’s championship-winning McLaren.
Photo Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images. Coulthard is showing his incredible mandible at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton: 2008
Last year’s race was a rain-soaked wacky waltz, notable for Felipe Massa’s numerous 360’s, a high speed track bunny and a beautiful, composed drive by McLaren’s Hamilton, who was yet to face what it’s like to race in an uncompetitive car.
The race was also a sign of things to come with Ross Brawn back in the game: in a snap decision, he outflanked the field on tire tactics to propel Rubens Barrichello to third place in that utter crap Honda My Earth Dream car—notable for always bringing up the rear—which they had already given up development on.
A year later, the tables have turned: Honda is out of Formula One, their 2009 car is powered by a Mercedes-Benz engine and is absolutely pulverizing the opposition. It is the clear favorite to win this year’s race, the last at Silverstone, with Barrichello’s teammate Jenson Button set to become the thirteenth Brit to win at home.
And there may never be a fourteenth, of course.
Photo Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images. Hamilton is at a press conference before this year’s British Grand Prix, with Jenson Button looking on.