Motorsport in the United Kingdom

Motorsport in the United Kingdom
2008 Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton driving for McLaren at the 2008 British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit.

Motorsport is a popular sport in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is a key player in the world of motorsport, hosting rounds of the Formula One World Championship, World Rally Championship and Grand Prix motorcycle racing, amongst others. It is also the home of many of the current teams in Formula One, such as McLaren and Williams, while teams such as Red Bull Racing, Mercedes GP and Renault are also based in England. There are also a range of popular national series held such as the British Touring Car Championship. The Motor Sports Association is the official governing body of motorsport in the United Kingdom.


Formula One

The United Kingdom has been a major player in the Formula One World Championship since it began in 1950, providing ten different world champions, winning 14 titles between them, more than any other nation. Mike Hawthorn became the first British world champion in 1958, defeating Stirling Moss, labelled by many as "the greatest driver never to have won the world championship".[1] The country won four consecutive titles between 1962 and 1965, with Graham Hill, Jim Clark (twice) and John Surtees. Hill won again in 1968, and was succeeded by Jackie Stewart, who won in 1969, 1971 and 1973. James Hunt was world champion for McLaren in 1976, and was the last British champion until 1992, when Nigel Mansell won for Williams. Damon Hill, son of Graham, was champion in 1996, while Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button won back-to-back titles for the country in 2008 and 2009.

Other than the Italian Scuderia Ferrari, the most successful teams in Formula One have been based in Britain. McLaren and Williams are the most successful of these, with former teams Team Lotus and Brabham also winning multiple titles. Of the 12 teams currently competing in Formula One, eight are based in England.

Silverstone Circuit currently hosts the British Grand Prix every year. Silverstone hosted the first ever Formula One World Championship Grand Prix in 1950. Aintree Motor Racing Circuit and Brands Hatch have also previously hosted the British Grand Prix. The European Grand Prix was held at Brands Hatch in 1983 and 1985, and at Donington Park in 1993.

Motorcycle racing

Silverstone Circuit currently hosts rounds of MotoGP and the Superbike World Championship. Britain's Leslie Graham won the inaugural Grand Prix Motorcycling World Championship in 1949. Geoff Duke, John Surtees and Mike Hailwood all won multiple world titles during the 1950s and 1960s. Phil Read was world champion in 1973 and 1974, while Barry Sheene won back-to-back titles in 1976 and 1977. Britain has struggled in the top 500cc/MotoGP class since then.

Britain has enjoyed greater success in the Superbike World Championship, with Carl Fogarty winning four titles in the 1990s. Neil Hodgson won the title in 2003, while James Toseland won the title in 2004 and 2007. The United Kingdom is currently well-represented in the Superbike World Championship.

The British Superbike Championship is the leading motorcycle racing series in the United Kingdom. Road racing events are popular, with Northern Ireland hosting the North West 200. Motocross and motorcycle trials are also popular forms of motorcycle sports.


Rallying is a popular form of motorsport in the United Kingdom. The RAC Rally began in 1932, and has since evolved into Wales Rally GB, the country's round of the World Rally Championship. Colin McRae won the World Rally Championship in 1995, and Richard Burns won in 2001, both for the Banbury-based Subaru World Rally Team. Both were recognised as two of the sport's most famous and popular drivers, but Burns and McRae died in 2005 and 2007 respectively.

The British Rally Championship is the national rally championship of the United Kingdom.

Touring cars

The British Touring Car Championship is the country's most popular national racing series. Its popularity was highest during the 1990s and the Supertouring era, when it attracted a range of well-known international manufacturers and drivers. Although spiralling costs meant that the series declined during the early 21st century, the series is now regaining popularity.

The United Kingdom also has a presence in the World Touring Car Championship, with Guernsey's Andy Priaulx winning three consecutive world championships between 2005 and 2007. Brands Hatch currently hosts the nation's WTCC round, the FIA WTCC Race of UK.


British teams and drivers have enjoyed many successes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Britain has had more winning drivers than any other nation, including France. Derek Bell won the race five times during the 1970s and 80s. Jaguar and Bentley have taken 15 wins between them.

Silverstone currently hosts rounds of the Le Mans Series and FIA GT1 World Championship.

The British GT Championship is the major national sportscars series, with Britcar and many other smaller championships also running.

Junior formulae

The British Formula Three Championship was regarded as one of the most important series below Formula One, with former champions including Nelson Piquet, Mika Häkkinen, Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi. Due to the emergence of successful junior formulae in mainland Europe, the series does not attract the quality of drivers it once did, but is still the most important of the national Formula Three series.

The British Formula Renault Championship is a popular series, with both Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton being former champions of the series. The British Formula Ford Championship and Formula Ford Festival are also known for producing talented young drivers.

Club racing

The United Kingdom has a large 'club racing' scene, with a wide range of series for amateur drivers, with each containing a diverse range of drivers and cars. Clubs include the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC) and Classic Sports Car Club (CSCC). Each club holds a range of meetings throughout the year, with each meeting consisting of races in several different categories.

Historic racing

Historic racing is popular in the United Kingdom. Major events include the Goodwood Revival and Silverstone Classic.


Current venues

Former venues


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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