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Focus - British Grand Prix heroes 06 Jul 2004

Nigel Mansell is surrounded by the British fans. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 10 July 1988. World © Sutton Damon Hill (GBR) Williams FW16 celebrates his win. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 10 July 1994. World © Sutton Race winner Nigel Mansell (GBR) Williams FW14 carries back to the pits fourth place finisher Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren, who ran out of fuel on the final lap. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, 14 July 1991. World © Sutton Johnny Herbert (GBR) Benetton B195, takes his first GP victory. British Grand Prix, Silverstone, 16th July 1995. World © Sutton 
David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/19B.
French Grand Prix, Rd 10, Qualifying Day, Magny Cours, France, 3 July 2004

Britain's Formula One racing fans will be out en masse to cheer on local favourites Jenson Button and David Coulthard this weekend. And in recent years the Silverstone race has produced a fair number of British winners.

Foremost in the hearts of the fans must be Nigel Mansell, who won the race no fewer than four times with Williams (1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992) - with spectators mobbing the track to celebrate victory with their idol. And he will likely be mobbed again this week when he makes an unexpected return to the cockpit with Jordan in the Formula One demonstration run on London’s Regent Street.

In 1994 Damon Hill took what would be his only victory at his home Grand Prix, also for Williams, holding off the Ferrari of Jean Alesi for an emotional win. The following year Hill looked set to win again, seizing pole position with a commanding qualifying performance and then streaking into a comfortable lead at the start. However, after dropping behind at his second stop he was involved in a controversial collision with Michael Schumacher (then driving for Benetton) as the German aggressively closed the door on his rival’s ambitious passing attempt. Both men ended up in the gravel trap, their race at an end.

There was still going to be a British winner, though. Indeed both the top steps of the podium were to be occupied by Brits. Johnny Herbert put in a committed, gutsy drive to take the win in the second Benetton, holding off the very strong attack of runner-up David Coulthard in the other Williams. It was Herbert's first Grand Prix victory, and there were 90,000 passionate fans there to help him celebrate it.

In 1996 Damon Hill lost out again, spinning out of the race on lap 26 after qualifying in pole position, victory eventually claimed by Williams team mate Jacques Villeneuve, the French-Canadian taking a second, back-to-back victory in 1997.

1999 saw one of the most memorable British Grands Prix, Michael Schumacher being involved in a heavy collision just after the start of the race in which he broke his leg. The accident immediately promoted Schumacher's Ferrari team mate, Eddie Irvine, to effective team leadership - and the Ulsterman put in a very strong performance, pipped to victory by David Coulthard's McLaren.

The following year's Silverstone event will also be remembered for a long time, but for all the wrong reasons. Torrential rain caused misery for the thousands of spectators, and turned car parks into quagmires with tractors having to tow fan's cars out at the end of the race. Nevertheless David Coulthard kept his cool in the appalling conditions and drove to another strong victory, leading McLaren team mate Mika Hakkinen home despite having qualified in P4.

It was the last time that a British driver won their home Grand Prix - for now at least. The weight of British expectations will be resting on Button and Coulthard come Sunday.