Memorable McLaren Moments :: Britain
The British Grand Prix, along with the Italian Grand Prix, is the oldest on the calendar. Since we began competing in 1966, we’ve won 14 of the 45 British grands prix that have come and gone.
American Peter Revson was the man to take our first British GP victory, winning at Silverstone in 1973. He started third and remained there following a huge eight-car accident at the end of lap one.
Emerson Fittipaldi, ahead in second, dropped out so Revson went in pursuit of leader Ronnie Peterson, nailing him on lap 39. He led the remaining 28 laps to the flag and his team-mate Denny Hulme finished third.
It was Fittipaldi’s turn to win the race for us in 1975. He made moves on Mario Andretti and James Hunt to sit sixth by the end of the opening laps after starting seventh. He made up more places after people in front of him crashed out or retired and led the race by lap 43. The heavens opened and on lap 56, and eight cars went off at Club, while a further three went off at Stowe. The race was red-flagged and Fittipaldi was announced the winner.
In 1977, James Hunt started the race from pole. He made a bad start and was in fourth at the end of the first lap, but he was back up to third by lap seven after passing Jody Scheckter. On lap 23, he brilliantly outbraked Niki Lauda and second was his. He drove comfortably to the chequered flag after leader John Watson retired.
Watson won our next British Grand Prix, triumphing in 1981. It was a milestone race for us and Formula 1 because was the first victory for a car with a carbon fibre composite chassis. He passed three cars after losing time avoiding a collision between Alan Jones and Gilles Villeneuve, and inherited the lead after both Renaults retired to take a hugely popular victory.
Comeback king Niki Lauda won the 1982 race, held at Brands Hatch. He started fifth, but took the lead on lap 10 after Brabham’s Nelson Piquet retired and remained there for the rest of the race, finishing 26 seconds clear of Didier Pironi’s Ferrari in second.
Lauda won for us again in 1984 with an even more dominant winning margin of 42 seconds ahead of second-placed man Derek Warwick.
A year later in 1985, the race was back at Silverstone. Ayrton Senna, driving a Lotus, and Alain Prost, driving a McLaren, had one of their earliest on-track battles.
From lap 12 onwards, Prost tried hard to pass. Senna had the upper hand until lap 58 when Prost overtook him; however Senna fought back. Prost muscled his way past for the final time soon after, and stayed in the lead until the finish.
The 1988 race was a straightforward affair for Senna, now driving for us. A wet race greeted the drivers as they lined up on the grid, and Senna, who started third, got past Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari almost instantly. On lap 14 he overtook Gerhard Berger in the other Ferrari for first position. He drove off into the distance to win by 23 seconds.
Senna and Prost started first and second in 1989, and predictably the pair squabbled over the first corner. Senna came out on top and led until lap 12 when he spun. His team-mate Prost was free to drive to the finish.
David Coulthard made the top step of the podium in 1999. It was his team-mate Mika Hakkinen who started from pole position, but he retired after the restart caused by Michael Schumacher’s big shunt at Stowe.
Stowe was the setting for a brilliant move by Coulthard in 2000. He drove round the outside of Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari to take the lead, while Hakkinen followed close behind. Coulthard and Hakkinen stayed first and second for the remainder of the race to complete a one-two result.
The following year, 2001, was Mika Hakkinen’s turn to win. He rocketed past Michael Schumacher on lap five after starting second and opened up a lead of more than half a minute to take his penultimate Formula 1 victory.
Juan Pablo Montoya started the 2005 race superbly from third on the grid to haul himself up alongside polesitter Fernando Alonso’s Renault going into Copse. He made his move before Becketts. Excellent strategic calls from the team allowed Montoya to stay ahead and take his first McLaren victory. Kimi Raikkonen finished third.
In 2008, Lewis Hamilton drove a magical race for the team, winning by a truly enormous margin of one minute and eight seconds ahead of BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld. The conditions were treacherous but Hamilton kept his head together while everyone in the field struggled.
It was one of the most fitting British Grand Prix victories ever – A British driver, driving for a British team and winning his home race in the year which he won his maiden World Drivers’ Championship.
Last year, Hamilton finished second after pushing Red Bull’s Mark Webber all the way to the flag, while Jenson Button was fourth.