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Formula 1 celebrated on stamps

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The Royal Mail, Britain's postal service, has unveiled a range of stamps commemorating some of Britain's most notable Formula 1 drivers, ranging from Stirling Moss in the 1950s to Nigel Mansell in the 1980s.

The six stamps, in varying denominations, depict Moss in his 1957 Vanwall, Graham Hill in his 1962 BRM, Jim Clark in his 1963 Lotus, Jackie Stewart in his 1973 Tyrell, James Hunt in his 1976 McLaren and Nigel Mansell in his 1986 Williams. The stamps were timed to capitalize on Lewis Hamilton's home grand prix at Silverstone, such is the fervor for the young BF driver in Britain. But industrial action -- a dispute about modernization plans and pay -- throughout the Royal Mail group has overshadowed their release.

As a matter of protocol no British stamp can depict the face of a living person other than the monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which explains why the cars are pictured from above, revealing only the tops of the drivers' helmets.

Royal Mail has celebrated Formula 1 before -- in 2004 it released a set of "smilers" stamps interspersed with non-postal stamps depicting the Jordan Formula 1 team -- but it is the first time it has created a set of postage stamps with a Formula 1 theme.

The stamps have caused some controversy as they celebrate one driver -- Stirling Moss -- who never won a world championship, while omitting Mike Hawthorn, the first British driver to win the title, and Damon Hill, the last British driver to win the title.

However British dependency, Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands between Britain and France, has redressed the balance by releasing its own set of Formula 1 postage stamps. The eight stamps -- released to coincide with the centenary of the Brooklands motor racing track, home to the very first British Grand Prix -- depict all the drivers to have won world championships: Mike Hawthorn (1958), Graham Hill (1962, 1968), Jim Clark (1963, 1965), Jackie Stewart (1969, 1971, 1973), James Hunt (1976), Nigel Mansell (1992) and Damon Hill (1996).

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