Sainz victorious in brilliant British Grand Prix
By Mat Coch
Monday 4th July, 2022 - 3:23am
Carlos Sainz has won an extraordinary Formula 1 British Grand Prix that witnessed a horrific crash and some of the most thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing in decades.
Sainz claimed his first grand prix win from Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton, while Max Verstappen suffered damage to trail home seventh.
However, Guanyu Zhou stole the early headlines after he suffered a terrifying crash at the opening corner, his car clearing the tyre barrier after skating through the runoff upside down.
He and Alex Albon were taken to the medical centre, the Williams driver subsequently taken to Coventry hospital for further checks. Both were cleared after one of the most frightening crashes in recent years.
It proved to be the prelude to an enthralling race, with intense battles for the lead and podium places that involved Sainz, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Perez, Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso.
At the race start, Verstappen seized the lead only for the red flag to be immediately thrown for a multicar crash involved Zhou and Albon at the opening corner.
George Russell and Pierre Gasly were all involved in the crash which saw Zhou’s Alfa Romeo Sauber skate through the runoff upside down before being launched over the tyre barrier.
A lengthy delay followed as the stricken Alfa Romeo Sauber was recovered from behind the fence, the catch fencing beyond it arresting the Chinese driver.
The medical car was quickly on the scene, with Zhou and Albon taken to the medical centre for evaluation.
Albon was subsequently taken to Coventry hospital for further checks, while Zhou was cleared of injury soon after.
As the red flag was shown, a number of protesters found their way onto the circuit, sitting on the track ahead of cars on the Wellington Straight.
“We can confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track,” a statement from the FIA confirmed.
“These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.”
With the race initially stopped before all cars had crossed the Safety Car 2 the remaining field was reset into qualifying order.
The red flag lasted 53 minutes before the Safety Car led the field back around to the grid for another standing start.
Sainz made a better getaway at the second time of asking, pushing Verstappen to the pit wall in his defence on the lead.
It acted to cork the bottle at the front of the field as the top four went side by side through Village and The Loop, the quartet of Sainz, Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and Sergio Perez somehow getting through unscathed.
There was, however, contact, with Leclerc and Verstappen exchanging paint as they negotiated Brooklands two corners later which left the Ferrari with a damaged front wing end plate.
Sainz led the opening racing lap from Verstappen, Leclerc, and Perez, while Lando Norris had climbed to fifth.
It was a frenetic opening with officials noting the squabble between Verstappen and Leclerc but not immediately doing any more before confirming they would not investigate the incident.
After the opening contretemps, Perez fell back into the clutches of Norris and Hamilton, while out front Sainz escaped DRS range by the time it was enabled.
Struggling for pace, Perez dived to the lane as he started Lap 7, releasing the McLaren and Mercedes.
As the pair headed into Brooklands, Hamilton moved through into fourth place, though almost five seconds away from Leclerc in third.
Perez rejoined on a set of new mediums, having switched to softs during the red flag, in 16th place following his early stop.
As the race settled down, Sainz soon found Verstappen closing to within DRS range, with Leclerc also inching closer.
The Spaniard lost the lead when he ran wide at Becketts, bouncing through the run off as his Red Bull rival seized the upper hand.
Just two laps later, Sainz surged by on the Hangar Straight to reclaim the lead, the Dutchman diving to the pits to replace a suspected puncture.
He rejoined behind Esteban Ocon in sixth more than 20 seconds down on the lead.
However, that was not the end of his woes as he radioed in that there was something broken at the rear of the car.
“The car is 100 percent broken,” Verstappen reported.
The team responded that it was a bodywork issue, and that while there was a performance loss there wasn’t otherwise any reason to stop.
On Lap 15, Leclerc had closed in on his team-mate, the two Ferraris running nose to tail with the Monegasque appearing to have the stronger pace but unable to find a way through.
A lap later, Sainz weaved as he traversed Hangar Straight in an effort to break the tow, all the while Hamilton was reeling the leading duo in courtesy of a series of fastest laps.
Leclerc campaigned over the radio to be allowed through, his team-mate advised to improve his pace.
He duly did so, though his 1:32.9, as requested by the team, was still some 0.4s slower than Hamilton managed on Lap 19.
Sainz pitted next time around, bolting on the hard compound tyres to rejoin third, just ahead of Norris.
Released from under Sainz’s rear wing, Leclerc was hardly able to improve his pace, Hamilton continuing to close in on the race lead.
Verstappen pitted for a second time at the end of Lap 24, swapping the medium rubber for a set of hards.
After 25 laps, Leclerc headed in for a fresh set of boots, taking on the white-walled rubber as Hamilton took over the race lead, Sainz scampering through before his team-mate had emerged from pit exit to claim second spot.
The challenge for Mercedes was the two Ferraris sat just over 18s back from the race lead, right on Hamilton’s pit window.
Ferrari swapped its pair as they headed down the Wellington Straight on Lap 31, Hamilton having eked out to an 18.7s advantage by the time it did so.
The seven-time champ pitted at the end of Lap 33, taking on a brand-new set of hard tyres, a stationary time of 4.3s.
It was enough to allow the two Ferraris to easily clear the Mercedes and establish themselves back at the head of the race, the pit cycle now effectively completed.
The order ran Leclerc from Sainz, then Hamilton, Perez (who was out of sequence), Norris, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Verstappen, Ocon, and Mick Schumacher in the top 10.
On Lap 37, Verstappen slipped behind Ocon as the Alpine eased by into Stowe, the championship leader offering no defense.
It was short-lived as the Frenchman slowed a lap and a half later, his car grinding to a halt on approach to Copse on the old pit straight.
The Safety Car was called for, Sainz and Hamilton both taking the opportunity to take a free stop and switch to the soft tyres for the 12-lap run to the flag.
Perez too pitted, the interruption falling nicely for the Mexican after he stopped in the opening laps.
Leclerc remained on track on the hard tyres, leaving him somewhat exposed once the race resumed.
The Safety Car was withdrawn at the end of Lap 42.
As he rounded the Vale Chicane, Leclerc accelerated, Sainz following as Hamilton came under pressure from Perez.
The Mexican quickly passed the Mercedes for third, while simultaneously the two Ferraris battled it out for the lead.
They ran wheel to wheel through Aintree, continuing to squabble as they raced down the Wellington Straight into Brooklands.
Sainz found a way through, skipping clear as Leclerc soon had his mirrors full of Red Bull and Mercedes.
Having brought in his tyres, Hamilton attacked Perez for third through Luffield on Lap 44, allowing Leclerc to inch clear in second.
Once DRS was enabled once more following the Safety Car’s withdrawal, Perez closed back in on Leclerc, making a move at Stowe as they ran wheel to wheel through the right-hander.
The squabble continued into Vale, opening the door for Hamilton to take them both in a single move.
It wasn’t done though, Hamilton falling victim to Perez at Village, Leclerc also getting back through at The Loop as Alonso bought into the battle.
While Perez moved away once clear in second, Hamilton and Leclerc continued battling while Alonso and Norris maintained a watching brief, ready to swoop on any opportunities.
On Lap 48, Hamilton found a way through, using the outside line through Luffield only for Leclerc to hold his nerve and take the place back by going the long way around through Copse in a bold move.
Down the Hangar Straight, it was job done for Hamilton, who used DRS to breeze by and open a small but crucial gap to all but settle the race.
Out front and almost lost in the melee, Sainz opened a comfortable lead which allowed him to claim his maiden grand prix win.
He did so with more than a 3s advantage over Perez, with Hamilton third and Leclerc, who clung on by his fingernails over Alonso.
Rounding out the top 10 were Norris, Verstappen, Mick Schumacher who recorded his maiden points, Vettel, and Kevin Magnussen.
Formula 1 next heads to Austria for Round 11 of the season, opening practice beginning on Friday.
Results: Formula 1 British Grand Prix
|1||55||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Ferrari||52|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+3.779s|
|3||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||+6.225s|
|4||16||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari||+8.546s|
|5||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine F1 Team||+9.571s|
|6||4||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||+11.943s|
|7||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||+18.777s|
|8||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas F1 Team||+18.995s|
|9||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin F1 Team||+22.356s|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||+24.590s|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin F1 Team||+26.147s|
|12||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Racing||+32.511s|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren F1 Team||+32.817s|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||+40.910s|
|15||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine F1 Team||DNF|
|16||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||DNF|
|17||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF|
|18||63||George Russell||Mercedes-AMG F1 Team||DNF|
|19||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo F1 Team||DNF|
|20||23||Alex Albon||Williams Racing||DNF|