The 1986 British Grand Prix (formally the XXXIX Shell Oils British Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held at Brands Hatch on July 13, 1986. It was the ninth race of the 1986 Formula One season. It was the last Formula One race held at Brands Hatch, from 1987 onwards all British Grand Prix would be held at Silverstone.
Jacques Laffite broke both legs during a multi-car pile up at the start, leading to his retirement from Grand Prix racing. Despite the crash happening just past the pits, the first doctor on the scene happened to be British driver Jonathan Palmer, who has started the race in 22nd place on the grid. A qualified GP before taking up motor racing in 1978, Palmer stopped his Zakspeed just past Laffite's crashed Ligier-Renault, jumped out and raced to assist the injured Frenchman. The race had been Laffite's record equalling start for most Formula One career starts. It was also the second British Grand Prix in succession at Brands Hatch that had seen the end of a drivers' career due to leg injuries suffered in a crash after Johnny Cecotto's career had ended during practice for the 1984 British Grand Prix when he smashed both of his ankles. All agreed though that the circuit itself was not to blame for either crash, and both Cecotto and Laffite went on to successful careers in international Touring car racing once they recovered from their injuries.
The pile-up included a significant number of cars which blocked the track entirely. The race was stopped without any drivers completing a single lap and was restarted over an hour later as Laffite had been airlifted to Sidcup Hospital and the race could not be restarted without the medical helicopter in attendance. This was fortunate for Nigel Mansell whose Williams-Honda had a driveshaft failure at the first start, but was allowed to restart as there had not been a lap completed. Lucky also for Mansell was that the spare Williams was Piquet's for the weekend and the team had time to change the settings on the car to suit the Englishman.
Mansell went on to win against a depleted grid in the team's spare car, which had been set up for team mate Nelson Piquet as it was his for the weekend. Mansell defeated Piquet in a straight fight, leading the Brazilian home by 5.574 seconds, much to the delight of the 110,000+ crowd in attendance. Reigning World Champion Alain Prost finished 3rd in his McLaren-TAG, one lap down on the Williams pair.
The race was the first time in 1986 since his car crash in France that had left him a paraplegic before the start of the season that Frank Williams had appeared in the Williams pits. It was also the first Williams 1-2 result of the season.
The international motorsports governing body at the time, FISA, had instituted a policy of long-term contracts with circuits. Brands Hatch was perceived as a poorer facility, and it did have very little run-off and room to expand, something Silverstone as a former World War II airfield had in acres. Silverstone and the BRDC had signed a seven-year contract with Formula 1 and FISA at some point in 1986, to run from 1987 to 1993.