Silverstone marked the halfway mark of the 1988 Formula 1 season with round eight, with the McLaren-Honda team having won the previous seven rounds of the year, all from pole position, with Alain Prost leading Ayrton Senna by 54 points to 39 heading into the British Grand Prix.
Heading into the race at the 4.778km circuit, home hero Nigel Mansell had announced that he would be swapping his drive with Williams for a move to Ferrari for 1989, with the Briton having an uncompetitive season with Williams after the team lost their Honda contract in favour of McLaren.
Mansell, who had been in championship contention in both 1986 and 1987, had failed to score a point or even seen the chequered flag in the previous seven races, while team-mate Riccardo Patrese had only scored a solitary point for sixth place in Monaco.
For the first time in 1988, McLaren failed to secure pole position at Silverstone, with Gerhard Berger capitalising on aerodynamic flaws of new bodywork for McLaren to lead a Ferrari 1-2 ahead of Italian team-mate Michele Alboreto, while Senna and Prost captured row two.
The normally aspirated March-Judd team had an impressive qualifying, with Mauricio Gugelmin claiming fifth ahead of team-mate Ivan Capelli, with both drivers ahead of reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet in the turbocharged Lotus-Honda.
Alessandro Nannini would qualify eighth for Benetton-Ford, ahead of the leading Arrows-Megatron of Derek Warwick, while the second Lotus of Satoru Nakajima completed the top ten.
Mansell would start eleventh in his Williams, while the other Brits in the field Jonathan Palmer and Julian Bailey would line-up seventeenth and twenty-fourth respectively in their Tyrrell-Fords.
Race day saw heavy rain falling at Silverstone for the first wet Grand Prix since the 1985 Belgian Grand Prix, and Berger led Alboreto into turn one ahead of Senna, while Prost had a dreadful start to finish lap one back in ninth.
Senna moved into second early on, and then moved into the lead ahead of Berger on lap fifteen, while Mansell was the man on the charge, moving into the battle for fourth place with Nannini and Gugelmin, finding his way past the Italian before the Benetton driver spun in the tricky conditions to allow the March driver through as well.
Mansell then worked his way up to Alboreto’s Ferrari, which was struggling badly with fuel consumption, and began to close the gap to the sister Ferrari of Berger in second.
Berger was also struggling with his fuel numbers, and dropped back into the clutches of Mansell, who overtook the Austrian driver to move into second position that he would hold until the chequered flag.
Nannini, despite two further spins, would find himself finishing on the podium for the first time in his career as Berger’s fuel woes continued, while Gugelmin secured his first career points in fourth.
Berger was set for fifth but finally ran out of fuel on the final lap, dropping out of the points and finishing ninth, allowing Piquet into fifth and Warwick into sixth for a point in his home Grand Prix.
But no one was able to get anywhere near Senna, who secured McLaren’s eighth consecutive victory of the year by just over twenty-three seconds from Mansell.
His team-mate Prost retired on lap twenty-four complaining of handling issues, meaning the Frenchman’s lead in the championship had been reduced to just six points at the halfway point of the season.
1988 British Grand Prix Race Result (Top 10)
|6||17||Derek Warwick||GBR||Arrows-Megatron||+1 Lap|
|7||18||Eddie Cheever||USA||Arrows-Megatron||+1 Lap|
|8||6||Riccardo Patrese||ITA||Williams-Judd||+1 Lap|
|9||28||Gerhard Berger||AUT||Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|10||2||Satoru Nakajima||JAP||Lotus-Honda||+1 Lap|