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Blasts From the Past: A Brief History of the 5 Oldest Formula One Grand Prix

Written by Jiya Mahapatra, Edited by Mara Simion

Formula One is a historic sport, with races dating all the way back to the 1920s and the first championship being held in 1950. Despite this, the world of F1 is constantly changing, with new teams and faces being brought into the paddock regularly. New circuits are being added to the calendar. Rules and safety measures are being altered. Machinery is becoming quicker and more advanced. However, today we are jumping back in time a little and looking at a brief history of the five oldest F1 Grands-Prix.

Silverstone Grand Prix:

Considered the first F1 race ever, the British Grand Prix became part of the inaugural F1 championship later, in 1950. While it was won by Giuseppe Farina of Alfa Romeo, there were a number of high-profile faces who actually drove in the race, including Thai Prince, Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanuband, and the Swiss, Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried. It was a popular event, with around 120,000 spectators coming to witness history being made, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Today, the Silverstone Grand Prix is popular among British racing fans, and the events of the race in 2022 have become quite iconic too.

The race started with a horrifying accident involving Zhou Guanyu, after he came into contact with George Russell. The crash caused Alex Albon to slow down, resulting in Sebastian Vettel hitting him and taking him out of the race as well. The race was red flagged, and both Zhou and Albon were taken for medical examination. This was already a chaotic race, but it became quite spectacular towards the end and was eventually won by Carlos Sainz. It was his maiden win, and so it was a very special win for both him and the team. Silverstone has always been an exciting event that drivers and fans look forward to.

Guiseppe Farina crossing the finish line at the first British Grand Prix; Credit: Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Belgian Grand Prix:

Although the Belgian Grand Prix is located in the stunning landscape of Spa, sadly, it is most well known for a more tragic reason. First hosted in 1950, this race is famous for being the setting of a number of life-ending injuries. First there was Formula 2 driver, Anthoine Hubert, who died after a crash during the F2 race there in 2019. This was followed by the recent death of Dilano Van ’t Hoff, who died while chasing glory at the Belgian round of the Formula Regional European Championship just earlier this year. Although the unpredictable weather could be considered a dangerous factor in this race, one also has to question the safety of the track itself. After all, when two drivers die after crashes at the same corner of Eau Rouge, things seem to be getting a bit out of hand. For a long time, many people believed that Spa should be removed from the race calendar. In fact, back in 1969, Jackie Stewart himself led a campaign to do so. Nonetheless, Spa is a beautiful track and is adored by the many Belgian fans of the sport.

Monaco Grand Prix:

Monaco is considered to be the most prestigious race in the calendar—a nail-biting race surrounded by the glitz and glamour of the most luxurious country in the world. First hosted in 1950, Monaco has been part of the race calendar every year since 1955. Due to the fact that it is a street circuit, this race can get quite dangerous. Actually, during the very first Monaco Grand Prix in 1950, the famous ‘Tobacco’ turn was submerged by a wave that had come in from the harbour! Another dangerous spot is at the port of Monaco. Back in the olden days of racing, a number of cars flew off the track and into the water, such as in 1955, when the Ferrari of Alberto Ascari capped off its race in the sea. Since then, the FIA and organisers of the famous race have been working every year to make it safer for the drivers.

A beautiful view of the Monaco Grand Prix by the harbour. Credit: Photo by Darren Heath/Getty Images

Monza Grand Prix:

Similar to Silverstone, the Monza Grand Prix was also part of the inaugural championship back in 1950 and has since only been absent from the calendar once, in 1980. The 1950 Monza Grand Prix crowned the first Formula One World Champion ever, after Farina was hailed victorious once again. Monza is infamous for being the home of the Ferrari’s fiery fans, ‘Tifosi’, since to this day, Ferrari is still the most successful team on this circuit with 20 victories! Their most recent win was made in 2019 by Charles Leclerc, when the red flares and flags were flying high.

Italian Ferrari fans celebrating Michael Schumacher’s Monza win in 2006. Credit: Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Dutch Grand Prix:

The Dutch Grand Prix took place for the first time in 1952 and was first won by Louis Rosier, in the Talbot-Logo. However, similarly to Spa, a negative cloud started to cover the race in Zandvoort after a few bad accidents. In 1970, Piers Courage crashed and died on the spot. Then, in 1973, Roger Williamson passed away following an accident due to a lack of fire extinguishers. After that, safety adjustments were made, and the race became a lot safer. The Dutch Grand Prix became famous for the orange flares set off by the Dutch fans in support of their drivers, such as Max Verstappen.


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