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GP Week : Issue 50
J 34 ULY 13, 1950. On the perimeter roads of a Second World War airfield on the outskirts of Northampton, England, 21 cars are lined up on the tarmac preparing to race. King George V, along with 100,000 of his subjects have made the long journey along winding country lanes to find the Silverstone racing track, and watch history being made. Giuseppe Farina, on pole position, leads the field away as the Union Flag falls and the Formula 1 World Championship is born. This weekend, the track at which Formula 1 was born will witness its last ever Formula 1 race. It’s a rather sad and poignant moment for Formula 1. At a time when the sport appears to be imploding and the powers that be forge forward on a path which may, or may not, rip the sport apart at the seams, to arrive at Silverstone knowing that this will be the last time we race on the track that gave birth to this sport somehow seems apt. But what a history the track has had and what races it has seen. 2009 will mark the 43rd British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It will see the final 60 of 2926 laps to have been run for victory and it will see the last name written into history as a Silverstone F1 Grand Prix winner, alongside the greats – Farina, Gonzales, Fangio, Brabham, Clark, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Hunt, Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton … 27 drivers have won at Silverstone, amongst them some of the greatest British drivers to have graced the sport: Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell won at Silverstone three times each, while David Coulthard took two wins at the track. Peter Collins, James Hunt, John Watson, Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Lewis Hamilton have all lifted the trophy once … and may yet be joined by the stand-out driver of the 2009 season to date, Jenson Button. How fitting a final British win would be for Button at the track, and how richly deserved. The sight of Mansell mania at Silverstone in 1992 remains one of the most evocative images from the track’s history, as does the moment Damon Hill received the winners’ trophy from Princess Diana in 1994. Hill’s father Graham had been involved in perhaps the most incredible race of the early years of Silverstone’s F1 history in 1960. Stalling his BRM on the grid, Hill fell to last, scythed his way back into the lead and then spun out with just five laps remaining handing the win to Jack Brabham. The 60s were the era of the Scots, as Jim Clark won in 1963 before facing a new challenger in the form of Jackie Stewart. The pair would win five Silverstone F1 Grands Prix between them. But Silverstone’s story is not just about Brits. Farina, in that first race, took not only pole but the fastest race lap and race win to set out