The history of the British Grand Prix

Posted: 30 Aug 2013

 Silverstone has an extensive history

Ever since the British MotoGP moved from Donington Park to Silverstone in 2010, spectators (and riders) have been divided in their opinion on which circuit is the better host. But regardless of where the British round of the premier series takes place, it remains one of the most hotly anticipated events on the motorcycle racing calendar.  

Before 1977, the only British round was the Isle of Man TT – which was part of the world championship from 1949 until 1976. However, many of the series’ riders, including Giancomo Agostini, believed the island’s Mountain Course was too dangerous for the competition, and it was dropped from the calendar in 1977 in favour of Silverstone – a former wartime airfield. The inaugural event at the Northamptonshire circuit took place on 14 August, with Pat Hennen taking the victory for Suzuki.

In the meantime, the Donington Park motor racing circuit, which is located on the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border and was originally opened in 1931, was undergoing major re-development under the new ownership of car collector Tom Wheatcroft. Although the venue already hosted a number of car races, the track was deemed too short to host two-wheel events and was re-developed in 1985 to include the Melbourne Loop, which increased the lap distance to 2.5 miles. The British round of the world championship subsequently moved from Silverstone to Donington in 1987 – where it remained in its new guise of MotoGP – until 2010, when it went back to Silverstone on a five-year deal.

In order to position itself as one of the world’s premier motorcycle racing venues and worthy of being the British Grand Prix host, Silverstone had begun work in November 2009 on a series of dramatic developments. This included a new 3.66-mile Grand Prix track, the new Stowe Complex, a brand new pit and paddock complex and conferencing facility, establishing the circuit as a first class motorsport venue and one of the best motorsport facilities for competitors, organisers and spectators alike.

Today the British MotoGP, hosted by Silverstone, attracts thousands of spectators over the course of the race weekend – in 2012 it was one of the best attended UK sporting events with a declared 146,000 visitors over three days. A diverse calendar of entertainment away from the racing, including live music and children’s activities, also means it attracts more families – and 2013 is no exception.  Please click here to read our ultimate guide to this year’s British MotoGP.

Circuit stats

Length:                 3.66 miles
Corners:               18 (7 left hand, 11 right hand)

Click here to read our preview and predictions for the 2013 British MotoGP.

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