Historic F1 cars mark 50 years since Brands Hatch’s first British GP
Last weekend, the sound of Formula 1 returned to the Kent venue with the FIA Historic Masters Formula 1 Championship. Here, we look back at the history of this circuit and the part it has played in Formula 1 history.
The highly popular circuit hosted a total of 12 British Grands Prix, as well as providing the venue for the European Grand Prix in 1983 and 1985.
Since the first running of a Grand Prix at Brands, the layout has barely changed. Graham Hill Bend has been modified so that, instead of the flowing flat out left hander, there is now a slight kink left followed by a fairly sharp corner. Dingle Dell, out at the back of the circuit on the Grand Prix loop, has undergone a couple of changes. In its current form, it is back to a single corner but the corner was a tricky right, left, right chicane at one point.
So popular was the track with drivers that Gerhard Berger once called it “the best circuit in the world”, and it still continues to draw bumper crowds for national events in the UK.
The first British Grand Prix at Brands was won in ’64 by Jim Clark and, until the final Formula 1 World Championship event there, he was the only Briton to win on this circuit. The penultimate event in ’85 changed this as fans cheered on Nigel Mansell to his first ever Formula 1 victory. Having started in third place, he fought his way past Ayrton Senna’s Lotus and Nelson Piquet’s Brabham to take the flag by 21 seconds. He won again in 1986, the last British Grand Prix to be held at Brands Hatch.
The ’66 race comes to mind, especially as we celebrate the life of Sir Jack Brabham. Brabham, on his way to a third drivers title, took the win, triumphing over some iconic names from the sport’s history. Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren are but a few of those names.
Ten years after this victory, the start finish straight was renamed from the ‘Top Straight’ to ‘Brabham Straight’ as a mark of respect to the Australian.
Happy anniversary, Brands Hatch. As unlikely as it may be, wouldn’t it be nice if Formula 1 could return there one day?
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.