Nigel Mansell’s epic chase, a ‘lunatic’ protestor risking his life, Michael Schumacher controversially winning from the pit lane and Lewis Hamilton’s classic in the rain – Silverstone’s five greatest F1 races ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix
- Formula One heads to Silverstone this week and iconic circuit has rich history
- Nigel Mansell’s incredible effort to catch Nelson Piquet back in 1987 was heroic
- Michael Schumacher infamously ignored black flag in 1994 and was banned
- Rubens Barrichello claimed the greatest victory of his career in 2003 classic
Few circuits can boast the same level of rich history as Silverstone and the Formula One circus arrives this week ahead of what fans will hope to be another classic race.
The sport’s biggest names have lit up the home of British motor racing down the years with Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell, Rubens Barrichello and of course Lewis Hamilton writing their own chapters into the track’s story.
Here, Sportsmail takes a trip down memory lane to take a look at five of the best Formula One races at Silverstone.
Lewis Hamilton will be looking to add another Silverstone win to his tally this weekend
MANSELL’S EPIC CHASE (1987)
Nigel Mansell was forced to pit for a new set of tyres after reporting vibrations on his Williams.
With 30 laps remaining he was the best part of half a minute behind his team-mate and fierce rival Nelson Piquet.
The chase appeared impossible but, spurred on by his home crowd, Mansell smashed the lap record on nine occasions before catching and passing Piquet after an exquisite move at Stowe with only two laps left.
The home crowd were euphoric and Mansell responded by leaping out of his Williams and kissing the tarmac.
Piquet had started on pole but Mansell would not be denied and it was his second victory in succession at Silverstone.
Nigel Mansell (centre) reeled in Nelson Piquet in a brilliant performance back in 1987
There was an extraordinary crowd that day with 100,000 at the iconic venue to witness one of the truly great races.
The passing move itself was incredibly dramatic and Mansell later explained what happened in The Windsor Interviews. He said: ‘I knew, because Nelson was no mug, that I would have one chance to get past him.
‘I had to do the dummy, and I had to be on the inside, because I knew he would come straight over.
‘He came over and we touched going into Stowe, but he knew he was on the outside so he was going to come out far worse than me. When you do a move like that you have to be committed. If you do it half-hearted, it’s an accident.
‘You had to time it perfectly that when he moved one way, you had the slipstream to shoot [the other way], so by the time he looked back you’re already there.
‘When he did that and realised that I hadn’t gone that way but I’d gone [the other] way, he wanted to come straight back but I was already there, and that was the key.
‘If I hadn’t been there, then he would have closed me straight out.’
Mansell beat the lap record nine times in hauling in his team-mate and rival
SCHUMACHER’S DISQUALIFICATION, HILL’S TRIUMPH (1994)
Michael Schumacher illegally overtook pole-sitter Damon Hill on the parade lap and was punished with a stop-and-go penalty, which he ignored.
A black flag was issued which should have resulted in Schumacher’s instant disqualification. But the German kept driving before serving his earlier stop-and-go punishment on lap 27.
Hill went on to claim a crucial victory and was presented with the winner’s trophy by Princess Diana.
Schumacher finished second, but he was disqualified for ignoring the black flag and subsequently handed a two-race ban.
Damon Hill won in 1994 after Michael Schumacher ignored a black flag in the race
Schumacher was given a two-race ban and it was upheld despite an appeal from Benetton
The race was part of a controversial season littered with incidents, usually involving Schumacher.
Benetton attempted in vain to reverse the ban and eventually the German had to miss out on the Portuguese and Italian GP.
He was also disqualified at Monza because the underbody plank of his car had worn down too much.
But after the ban, Schumacher was resurgent, winning in Mexico and claiming the title in hugely controversial circumstances after a collision with Hill in the last race in Australia.
Schumacher was at the centre of controversy again four years later after winning the race while stationary in the pit-lane.
Mika Hakkinen had led from the start, but as the rain fell and conditions deteriorated, the Finn lost control of his McLaren and spun. The safety car was deployed, and while Hakkinen remained in the race, he had sustained damage to his front wing. His 40-second lead was wiped out and Schumacher looked odds-on to win.
However, Schumacher had illegally passed Alexander Wurz under a yellow flag, which resulted in a stop-and-go penalty.
But the haphazard stewards only announced his punishment with two laps left.
Schumacher won the race in bizarre circumstances from the pit lane in 1998
At the end of the final lap, Schumacher entered the pits to serve his penalty, but had already crossed the start-finish line and won the race. The bizarre result stood despite McLaren’s protests.
Strangely, the finish line extended over the pit lane, which meant Schumacher had no choice but to cross it.
Hakkinen was furious and with good reason. Schumacher had not served his penalty within the race distance and should have been disqualified.
But Ferrari found a loophole and argued that the stewards had not informed them of the penalty within a time limit and the penalty was cancelled.
BRILLIANT BARRICHELLO AND A ‘LUNATIC’ (2003)
Rubens Barrichello claimed the greatest victory of his career in an all-time F1 classic.
The Ferrari driver started from pole but slipped to eighth after a safety car was deployed when a protester stormed the track along the 200mph Hangar Straight.
But Barrichello carved his way back through the field before executing a wonderful move on McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen on lap 42 to claim the lead, and ultimately, the race victory.
Barrichello spent much of his Ferrari career in the shadow of Schumacher but did win nine races, with Silverstone the pick of those.
He qualified in pole position with his team-mate way down in fifth after the Brazilian opted against team advice and went for his own set-up.
The commentators described the protestor as a ‘lunatic’
For all of Barrichello’s brilliance, the race is remembered for the protestor. Footage of the incident is still heart-in-mouth stuff with David Coulthard appearing to consider and overtake before pulling out when he saw a person in front.
The protestor was a Catholic priest, Neil Horan. He was wearing an orange kilt and held up a sign which read ‘read the Bible’ and ‘the Bible is always right’.
He forced a number of cars to swerve before being tackled by a steward and dragged to the side of the track. Horan was later given a two-month jail sentence.
HAMILTON WEATHERS THE STORM TO DOMINATE (2008)
Lewis Hamilton arrived at his home race fourth in the drivers’ standings but left on top after storming to victory in one of his outstanding performances.
In torrential rain, Hamilton blitzed the field, finishing the race almost 70 seconds ahead of second-placed Nick Heidfeld and lapped the entire pack up to third.
This was an afternoon of precise, high-quality driving that showed Hamilton’s class.
His peers were spinning all over the place but he made it look easy to retake the lead in the world championship race.
Hamilton was looking so good that his team were concerned about him going too fast.
Lewis Hamilton overcame tricky conditions for an remarkable win in the rain in 2008
He said: ‘Hold on a second, what’s going on? I’m not even pushing.
‘I didn’t want to slow down, because the moment you do that you lose concentration.
‘I really had to be very sensible. I had to imagine I was 60 seconds ahead and then fell off, and that would have been so embarrassing.
‘There’s no way you could come back from that, you would have to retire! It was just about managing it all.’
At one point, the rain was so bad that Hamilton could hardly see out of his visor and the mirrors were useless.
He lifted the visor strategically at different points on track and after the race called it the greatest performance of his career.
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