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Hill, Warwick and Grosjean help Silverstone gear up for its 50th grand prix
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  16 May 2014   |  2:40 pm GMT  |  51 comments

This year Silverstone will stage its 50th grand prix, the circuit’s connection with grands prix dating back to Luigi Villoresi’s victory in the first ever event on October 2, 1948, two years before the inauguration of the FIA F1 championship in 1950.

And to kick off the celebrations 1996 champion Damon Hill, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean and Derek Warwick, former Renault Formula 1 driver and President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) were on hand at the circuit to show off a collection of legendary Renault-powered F1 cars.

Hill, who won the 1994 British Grand Prix, was reunited with his championship-winning Williams-Renault FW16.

“I’d like to think that winning the British Grand Prix is great for any driver, but particularly if you’re a British driver, there’s nothing like it,” he said. “It is one of the biggest events of all the grands prix we go to. There’s such a massive crowd, and to get all that satisfaction and give people satisfaction with a victory at your home grand prix, you just can’t beat it.

“The heritage of Silverstone is so special, and it’s fantastic to be celebrating having 50 grands prix here,” he added. “Silverstone remains crucial to the Championship, it’s a world famous circuit and it keeps grand prix racing here where it should be, in the centre of Great Britain. I think the atmosphere is the thing I’m most looking forward to, I just love the buzz. It’s a great celebration and it’s also a fantastic sporting event. There’ll be extra excitement this year with the strong possibility of seeing a British winner.”

Grosjean, meanwhile, got to drive the Renault RE40, the car with which Alain Prost won the 1983 race at Silverstone.

“Driving the RE40 felt the same, yet different at the same time,” he said. “Downforce, power, braking, the car itself, the behaviour, that’s Formula One – even though it’s 30 years old it feels the same as today. But then of course the ‘H’ gearbox was a bit difficult to get used to at first, and the turbo lag was quite big, so you can’t imagine how tough it must have been to warm the tyres up in the race and get the throttle application right. There are less buttons on the steering wheel though, which is nice! The noise felt like an engine from the past. The unburned fuel in the exhaust made a really nice noise and vibration; it was a really great feeling.”

Also on show on the day was the famous Renault RS01 ‘Yellow Teapot’, F1’s first turbocharged car, which made its debut at Silverstone in 1977. The car was nicknamed the ‘teapot’ due the frequency with which clouds of smoke were seen billowing from it as the company attempted to perfect turbo technology. The RS01 was displayed alongside a Lotus 98T driven by Ayrton Senna in 1986, the Williams-Renault FW14, which Nigel Mansell drove to victory at the British Grand Prix in 1991 and the Williams-Renault FW14B, which also won the British Grand Prix in 1992 in the hands of Mansell, who went on to win the World Championship in the same car.

The cars provided a taste of what fans can expect to see at this year’s race. As part of ‘Silverstone50’ celebrations, a host of iconic British Grand Prix winning cars are being assembled to feature in three commemorative parades – one on each day of the event – and will be driven by some of the biggest names in British and world motor sport.

BRDC President Derek Warwick, a works Renault driver in 1984 and 1985, commented: “Seeing these cars here today brings back many memories of the British Grand Prix. Silverstone is the home of motor racing no matter where you are in the world and it’s the most challenging circuit you’ll ever drive on as a racing driver. Racing in front of your home crowd makes you just that inch taller. You get lifted by the crowd as you go through the front gate, your heart rate goes up and it’s just amazing, you can’t put it into words.

“The British Grand Prix has developed into a four day event now, and this year the fans will be able to get up close to these Grand Prix cars with the parades and Heritage Pits. They’ll also be able to access the open Pit Lane on Thursday. Fans will be able to get into the centre of the circuit and see the history of Formula On and Silverstone, and also the drivers that have been such a part of it. The fans are in for a real treat and I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to see here.”

Other cars confirmed to be on display in a ‘Silverstone50’ Heritage Paddock at this year’s British Grand Prix include: Nigel Mansell’s 1987 Williams-Honda FW11b, and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, which he drove to World Championship glory in 2008. Sir Jackie Stewart is also confirmed to drive his 1969 British Grand Prix winning Matra MS80 in the commemorative parade.


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Rich In Norway

James or anyone else who might knows. Why are the old Williams cars allowed to keep Rothmans logo when the old Mclarens cant have the Marlboro logo…



Let’s hope the drivers are allowed a few flying laps in these cars. Seeing the FW14b on full song down Hanger straight again would be awesome.


James, I hate to say it but Damon won the championship in the FW18. Also, what’s happened to your fantastic podcasts?


the yellow teapot , an amazing car , on a par with the “hoover” and the 6 wheel tyrrell , crazy innovation at its best !


Really hope we have Murray Walker doing the podium interview after the race. I think it would be pretty sweet.


Damon’s championship winning car was the achingly pretty FW18. One of Adrian Newey’s gems.


Indeed. Compare and contrast with today’s abominations. Tragic.


That car was really good looking, the 97 car was nice too


Fair to say that since Mr Newey left Didcot/Grove Williams F1 has never really scaled the heights of consistent success when he was there?


I guess they didn’t want Pastor to smash a piece of history…


Why is Colonel Sanders in the top picture? Are KFC sponsoring the 50th celebrations?


Damon and his Williams-Renault were finger licking good!

Frank and Patrick made a dreadful error of judgement in letting Damon go……..because one of the consequences of Hill Junior exiting the team was Adrian ended up leaving too………..not entirely because Damon was shown the door, but it did have a contributory factor in Adrian seeking pastures new with Macca.

How F1 history might have been different if Damon and Adrian had stayed at Williams eh? But it didn’t – and ultimately Williams for the last 15 odd years have paid the price.


Now there’s a collection of some very beautiful Cars and a lot of very good memories!


Didn’t Hill win the championship in the FW18? He would have won the British GP in the FW16.


Williams won the constructor’s championship in 1994, though, didn’t they?


Yes, Renault should have won the championships in 1982 and 1983. Serious power but unreliable as hell.

kenneth chapman

great memories of silverstone. my first F1 race in 1960!!!! brabham was victorious.


Seeing these old cars brings to mind a long lost element of F1 and that’s the beauty of some of the designs.. the elegance and form of some of the cars are timeless..

The FW14B was brilliant for packaging so much technology into something so neat and compact.


Advertising ban or not, it’s great to see the Rothman’s livery with Damon Hill close by!

James, are vintage cars also banned from displaying period correct tobacco adverts during events like the one coming up at Silverstone?

It was a bit sad to see a few of Senna’s cars without the marlboro livery.


Wondering, why Pastor wasnt allowed into the cars, anybody?


LOL – I heard that they could only get third party insurance and so any damage to the car would have to come out of his own pocket. Therefore he declined a drive.


Pastor’s Demonstration Vehicle Smashed Already.

Aaron Hartland


Damon won his championship in the fw18

David in Sydney

I think it was 2004 when I happened to be in London on business during the GP weekend… I bought a last minute ticket on the Internet.

Caught a train to Norwich (I think it was) and a rickety old bus to Silverstone, somehow found the ticket pick up office, and sat down at Stowe Corner just as the parade lap commenced.

Having only ever been to Albert Park before that time, I’d never seen F1 cars run so fast – the streamlining and passing into Stowe Corner was immense.

Sounds a but lame to say it but it was one of the best days of my life.


David – you would have gone to Northampton or Milton Keynes station, not Norwich – that would have been one hell of a rickety bus ride. I used to live at Towcester, just down the road from the Silverstone ciruit and could hear the cars on track whenever there was a test day. Always made your hairs stand on end. And we would cycle (or walk if the weather was particularly bad) to the track for qualifying and race days. The atmosphere was always incredible.

This year I went to the Melbourne GP. I had heard all this hype about atmosphere and parties from years gone by. The loss of decent race noise obviously had a significant (and negative) impact on the atmosphere here but let me tell you it was not in the same universe as the atmosphere at the British GP.

And, yes, the organisers are giving F1 a bit more of a headache by running these glorious, noisy, earth shaking monsters right before the current breed if quiet, ultra-technical, fuel and tyre conserving puppies (I was going to call them beasts but they really do seem like little playful puppies in comparison to the real monsters of a bygone era).

At Albert Park I got a small sense of that excitement that I used to get at Silverstone whenever ANY F1 car hit the track. As I left my hotel and headed to the track I heard that glorious sound of a V10 being revved hard. Alas it was only the 2-seater ride car giving a lucky few celebs and high rollers a swift lesson in what F1 used to be like. By the time I got to the track and the current F1 cars were on it the hairs had well and truly settled back down and my time was spent wandering round trying to find something else to get the heart rate raised.

David in Sydney

Makes me wonder if the F1 Championship wouldn’t be a better series if it just raced on older European circuits the quality of Monza, Silverstone, Spa, etc.

I’d be happy for that.


It certainly would be, but none of the ‘old’ circuits can provide the movable feast of state funding that the Tilkedromes do. Get a contract, hoover up the money, abandon after three races, repeat.


Agree, but sadly a lot of the classic European tracks have been changed so much they have practically been amputated – Hockenhiem, Nuburgring, the Osterreichring sorry Red Bull-Ring, Zandvoort, Paul Ricard and dare I say Imola all are shadows of their former selves – a lot of those aforementioned tracks have been “Tilke-fied”………….

I’d never thought I say this, but I really miss the old flat out blasts of Hockenhiem, it was madness but in a good way. It was a unique challenge – the new format is just a bland point and squirt Tilke-drome totally devoid of character………….

Thank God Monaco, Silverstone, Spa and Monza retain their character………….


They’ll run those cars just before prac, qualifying and the race to wake up the fans


That Re40 is just beautiful!!! I love that car. That is all.


Beautiful – but potentially lethal.

If you look carefully at the photo above, you’ll notice the forward mounted driving position, with the drivers feet/ankles located ahead of the front axle as all grand prix cars from early to late 80s were. Pedal box ahead of the front axle? What about protection for the drivers feet/legs in a head on crash?

Unfortunately, the likes of Clay Regazzoni, Didier Pironi, Jean Pierre Jabouille, Johnny Cocetto and Jacques Laffite all suffered massive leg injuries from a head on collision with the barriers that forced them to retire after their accidents or just a while after. Regga also suffered from spinal injuries that confined him to a wheel chair, while Martin Brundle broke his legs in a head on crash (at Dallas I think) that even to this day leave him with a slight limp.

Thank goodness in the late 80s the FIA mandated the rule that the drivers feet must be located BEHIND the front axle – without doubt that rule saved many drivers from the pain of shattered legs/feet (although Michael and Panis were the unlucky ones).


Silverstone, one of a kind, not only the track but the British fans that come out for the weekend. From a USA fan’s perspective, just driving past the hedges and grazing sheep getting to the track gave me goosebumps. Spectacular views from many locations and the ability to get reasonably close to the catch fences. Thanks to GroJo for mentioning the engine noise, eh Todt?


The FW16.. Now there’s a real F1 car.


Yep, I remember when Damon crossed the line to sow up the championship, was super emotional. Damon was one hell of a driver!!


Belgium 1998 was also great stuff!


The last part of this isn’t true.


How many world championships have you won? Damon started late, and him leaving the Williams team was the start of their downfall. He’s the second best driver at devleoping a car in the last 25 years, only behind MS. He was a 50p part away from winning in an Arrows, and was the driver that developed the Jordan into an almost championship winning car. Sure HHF was nearly the driver to deliver it, but Damon was the driver that developed that made it possible. He was super technical. I appreciate he had a very poor 95 (imo this was 94 catching up with him). I also appreciate there were more spectacular drivers out there, but they need a fast car under them to do their stuff.


The article is flawed, that is an FW18 from 1996. FW16 was the low nosed 1994 car that killed Senna.


The great thing about Silverstone is that although the configuration has changed dramatically over the years, like Monaco, Spa and Monza (which were also on the first F1 championship calender way back in 1950) the true essence of the place hasn’t changed.

Silverstone has always been about long straights linked by mega fast swooping corners – along with Spa and Suzuka it is the most challenging track in grand prix racing, some corners such as the awesome Copse, Maggots/Becketts and Abbey the drivers are pulling 5G in load – even in race trim. That’s 5 times the force of gravity being pummelled on a drivers neck and head, as well as his innards including the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, stomach/bowels and buttocks, and of course that all important drivers equipment, his brain. That’s a lot of gravitational force on a drivers vital organs – apparently if it wasn’t for the restraining of theseatbelts, an F1 driver doing a lap of Silverstone would have lungs explode or cough up his liver……….

To put into perspective: Daniel weighs 10 stone (63 KG), so when he comes to Silverstone in his Red Bull in July, when he goes through the likes of Copse and Becketts pulling 5G, he will just for a moment be subjected to a force of 50 stone or 315 KG – that’s like having an African Lion or Bengal tiger smashing down on your head and body – if only for a split second…….

Having witnessed the current crop experiencing that 5G of cornering load, it does make you appreciate just how fantastically strong, dedicated and committed drivers have to be to being able to attack Silverstone and its fast corners…………..

Imagine what Montoya would have weighed when he pulled 5G eh? An African elephant??????


They only pull that under breaking, for a split second. Its not really such a drama. Loads of sports take way more energy and comitment from the guys. Ever seen a F1 sidecar? A road race at the TT or a superkart race? The drivers are better now than they used to be but as interesting as dish water. Give me guy Martin any day. Max chilton is an example. Bla bla bla I finished the race…bla bla bla. Who cares you got lapped, twice, by half the field.


Be good to see some of these classics doing a few demo laps that weekend but I’m guessing with all troubles about the current cars noise or lack of it james the sports bosses might not be so keen on that if the older cars are screaming around the track between sessions!


3 cheers for Silverstone a Classic racers track whatever its new configuration.

Glad its safe & on the calendar for next 17years. Hopefully Bernie will be allowed a weekend out from a Bavarian prison to do the grid walk with the next CVC head honcho 😀

50th anniversary it should be a spectacular Grand Prix weekend.


I’d do anything to see Mansell back in the FW14!


I’d be careful anything could mean anything,!


😀 what people do 😀


Now that would simply be Brilliant! Snag though… I doubt he would fit in even without a seat in there..


Can you imagine the excuses? No doubt it would have been a superhuman effort defying clinical belief, but that the pain inflicted in hips would have clearly given a concussion.

Afterwards it was discovered that carbon fibre shrinks….


Imagine if they had invited Montoya back……he would have caused a small earthquake around the Northamts/Bucks area!

James not Allen

I’m sensing a new reality TV show concept here…

Very cool that Hill, almost 20yrs on from his championship year can still get in and drive his car.


Considering the shade of his barnet he should be in the Silver Arrows team.


Apart from the greying hair Hill doesn’t look much changed to be honest.

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