The 1952 British Grand Prix was held at Silverstone on the 19th July 1952. The fifth round of the 1952 World Drivers' Championship was run to Formula Two rules that year, rather than the Formula One regulations normally used, the race distance being 85 laps of the 2.93 mile circuit.
Stirling drove a Bristol engined English Racing Automobiles (ERA) G type, a car he thought handled quite well, but in his words "did not have enough power to perform on a fast circuit such as Silverstone". Ferrari ran with the same three drivers that had finished a dominant 1-2-3 at the preceding French Grand Prix, Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina and Piero Taruffi, driving Ferrari 500's.
There were also a number of privateer Ferrari entrants, including Rudi Fischer and Peter Hirt, racing for Ecurie Espadon, and Peter Whitehead and Roy Salvadori, in the #14 Ferrari 500. HWM continued their policy of partnering regular drivers Peter Collins and Lance Macklin with a local driver, in this case Duncan Hamilton.
Jean Behra was unable to take part in the British Grand Prix, having broken his shoulder blade at the non-championship Grand Prix de Sables d'Olonne the previous weekend. Consequently, Maurice Trintignant took over Behra's Gordini T16 for Silverstone, having driven a Simca-Gordini T15 at Rouen-Les-Essarts. The Gordini team also fielded regular drivers Robert Manzon and Prince Bira. Belgian driver Johnny Claes entered a privateer Simca-Gordini racing under Ecurie Belge banner.
The Connaught team ran a quartet of Lea Francis engined entries, driven by Kenneth McAlpine, Ken Downing, EricThompson and Derek Poore, while the remainder of the grid was made up of a series of privateers from various constructors, including Coopers and Maseratis. The Silverstone circuit benefitted from new pit facilities that had been built on the straight between Woodcote and Copse corners, the original pits having been located between Abbey and Woodcote.
The three works Ferraris, led on this occasion by Farina in the #16 Ferrari 500, again qualified in the top three positions on the grid, this time being joined on the four-car front row by Manzon in the #24 Gordini. The second row consisted of Downing alongside Reg Parnell and Mike Hawthorn in a pair of Coopers. The Connaughts of Poore and Thompson shared row three with Bira's #26 Gordini and Hamilton in his #30 HWM. Stirling qualified 16th on the grid in his #12 ERA.
Ferrari were yet again dominant in the race itself. Ascari, in the #15 Ferrari, took the lead at the start of the race and held onto it for the whole 85 laps, taking his third consecutive victory in the 1952 World Championship. Polesitter, Farina, was in second place for the first 26 laps, but dropped down the field when he needed to pit to change spark plugs, eventually finishing in sixth place, just outside the points.
Despite making a bad start that saw him drop to ninth by the end of the first lap, fellow Ferrari driver Taruffi, in the #17 car, recovered to take second place, finishing a lap behind Ascari. Dennis Poore, who had been running in third after Farina's pit stop, needed to make a stop of his own in order to refuel his car.
This allowed Mike Hawthorn in the #9 Bristol powered Cooper T20, to inherit third place, which he held for the remainder of the race. He finished a lap behind Taruffi and took his first World Championship podium in just his third race. Poore, in the #6 Connaught, took fourth, ahead of teammate Thompson in the fifth and final points position.
Stirling's race was a frustrating affair, the ERA had been misfiring badly, forcing him to make a succession pit stops to try and sort the problem out. He decided to drive safely and stratgically in an effort to finish, but eventually, after a long conference with Leslie Johnson, owner of ERA, the decision was taken to retire his car. The ERA G type, with Stirling at the wheel, was destined never to finish a Grand Prix in its one and only competitive race season.