F1 70th anniversary: UK Motorsport industry leads the world

F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain

As Formula 1 (FI) celebrates its 70th anniversary this weekend at Silverstone, at the circuit where the championship started in 1950,  seven out of the 10 Formula 1 (F1) cars on the starting grid are representing teams based in the UK.

So it’s British technology and expertise competing against each other this Sunday at Silverstone.

More Grand Prix cars are made in Britain than any other country and throughout the last seven decades, the UK has won more titles than any other nation – a testament to the country’s automotive research and development (R&D) industry.  

Motorsport Valley, which refers to the swatch of land from the Thames Valley in Oxfordshire to West Midlands that is home to the majority of the UK’s motorsport companies and engineers, is the undisputed leader in global motorsport.

It is home to around 4,300 businesses, employing more than 40,000 people with an annual sales turnover of £10 billion. According to the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) 70 per cent of UK motorsport businesses export their products and services abroad and the US is the UK’s largest export market.  

Formula 1 is GREAT – Lewis HamiltonIn ongoing negotiations with the US, the Department for International Trade (DIT) aims to strike a comprehensive free trade deal that will make transatlantic trade much easier for UK exporters.   

From aerodynamics to safety developments, F1 has always been at the forefront of technological innovation with advancements that have directly benefitted the global automotive  industry.  

The sport employs thousands in the UK, with 25,000 skilled engineers linked to F1, as well as supply chains across continents.

Increasingly, the technology used by UK motorsport companies is filtering into the wider automotive sector, as well as other industries such as health and infrastructure. At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, British F1 teams played an intrinsic role in the UK’s fight against the virus, uniting to form ‘project pitlane’, a Covid-19 respiratory device response.  

Minister for Exports Graham Stuart, said:  “Since the first race at Silverstone 70 years ago, the UK has contributed so much to Formula 1 on and off the track. The UK is not just home to the reigning world champion, but also the majority of teams’ headquarters, which is testament to our world-leading motorsport industry. 

“Through innovation, manufacturing excellence and our highly skilled workforce, British F1 has transformed the global automotive industry and will continue to do so for decades to come.” 


UK-based F1 teams:

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, BWT Racing Point F1 Team, Haas F1 Team, McLaren F1 Team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, Renault DP World F1 Team and ROKiT Williams Racing


A brief history of Formula 1

For years there had been Grand Prix car racing across the continent, but no-one had organised an official world championship.

It’s thought that a World Championship for car racing was the idea of the Marquis Antonio Brivio-Sforza, a passionate racing man from Milan, former bobsleigh gold medallist and Grand Prix racer who scored third place podiums at Monaco in 1935 and Nurburgring in 1936.

In 1949 it was confirmed that the FIA Formula One World Championship would be inaugurated for 1950, with a World Champion elected at the end of the season. Seven rounds in seven countries would compete in the first championship: Britain, Monaco, America, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy.

Eight points would be awarded for win, six for second place, four for third, three for fourth and two for fifth, with an extra point awarded for fastest lap. 

The accolades was for the driver only, the constructors’ championship didn’t start until eight years later.

It’s thought that the former World War Two bomber base at RAF Silverstone, which straddles the borders of Northamptonshire/Warwickshire and Oxfordshire was chosen after former racing driver Francis Curzon, the fifth Earl Howe,  and Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club’s (RAC) Competitions Committee, persuaded the RAC to apply to the Air Ministry for a short lease of the airfield in order to stage what would be Britain’s first post-War grand prix.

The first race, in May 1050, was attended by HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were accompanied by HRH Princess Margaret and the Earl and Countess Mountbatten, who watched on as Giuseppe Farina win in an Alfa Romeo.