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Feature Image Credit: Ferrari F1 Media

Sainz wins sensational Silverstone thriller

Spaniard takes first win in an action packed race

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Carlos Sainz has won the British Grand Prix, taking his first victory. Sergio Perez drove a strong recovery drive to take P2, with home hero Lewis Hamilton taking P3.

Pre-race
Carlos Sainz celebrating his pole at the British Grand Prix (Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

Race day brought blue skies to the Northamptonshire countryside, as the grid lined up for the British Grand Prix. The stakes for the race were high for all the top drivers. Carlos Sainz lined up in the coveted P1 slot after taking his first pole position for his 150th Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton could take a record-breaking ninth British Grand Prix win. Charles Leclerc needed a good result to rekindle his dwindling title challenge.  Teammate George Russell aimed to continue his 100% record of top five place finishes.

The tension on the grid was partially undone by a questionable version of the national anthem performed by Sam Ryder and his electric guitar. The electric atmosphere reached boiling point as the cars lined up for the start.

With free tyre choice available, Verstappen in P2 opted for soft compound tyres, while Sainz in P1 started on mediums.

Lights Out

At lights out, Verstappen takes the lead, and Sainz drops into P2 as the front runners navigate the first corners and head towards the Wellington Straight.

Behind the frontrunners, chaos ensued.  Mercedes’s George Russell and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly were involved in a horrifying incident with Zhou Guanyu. Gasly was squeezed into Russell, which then hits Zhou. The Alfa Romeo is pitched upside at speeds over 150mph and smashed into the barrier. The momentum of the car saw Zhou vault over the barrier and into the catch fencing.

Further down the order, Sebastian Vettel hits Alexander Albon after Williams reacts to the tyre smoke caused by the accident involving Zhou.  Albon is sent into the pit wall at high speed. Albon then bounces across the track, into the path of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine. This then causes Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri to be tagged. All drivers walked away unscathed.  The carnage resulted in the red flag, with all cars boxing while the upside-down Alfa Romeo was cleared.

Lights Out – second attempt

As the cars lined up for the standing restart an hour later, it was in the original order as the first restart, with Max Verstappen back in P2 changing to medium tyres.  Russell’s Mercedes and Albon’s Williams are too badly damaged to take the restart, along with Zhou’s wrecked Alfa Romeo.

At lights out,  Sainz stays ahead of Verstappen,  with the two cars battling through the first few corners. The other Red Bull and Ferrari then join the battle, and all four cars race into turn four together.  Sainz holds onto the lead but Leclerc hits Perez, resulting in front wing damage for both cars.

Musical chairs for the lead

Perez’s front wing begins to shed parts as the damage from the first lap begins to take its toll.   The Mexican is caught by Norris and Hamilton as the Mexican dives into the pits. The two British drivers are racing hard in front of their home crowd, both sensing a strong result.  Norris maintains position, despite being under attack by Lewis.  The crowd cheered watching their home heroes’ dogfighting. Hamilton passes Norris into Brooklands two laps later to set off after the top 4. Further back, Latifi maintains an excellent P10 in the sole remaining Williams.

At the front of the field,  Sainz is beginning to feel the pressure from Verstappen. The Red Bull reels in the Ferrari over the next few laps, as the top four cars run a second faster than the rest of the field. Sainz comes on to the radio to say Verstappen is quicker. “Copy” is the response from the Ferrari pit wall.  The pressure gets to Sainz on lap 10, as the Ferrari runs wide at Becketts just before the Hanger straight. Sainz rejoins, but the lead has been gifted to Verstappen and Red Bull. Straight faces on the Ferrari pit wall.

Verstappen’s time in the lead is short, as the Dutchman slows, believing he has a puncture after running over debris. The crowd cheers as Sainz retakes the lead on the Hanger straight. Verstappen pits and comes back out in P6, Ferrari now has an unexpected one-two,  Sainz from Leclerc.  Hamilton is continuing to charge in third.  Verstappen still senses a problem with the car, Red Bull confirming its bodywork damage, but he can continue. After pitting again later for hard tyres, Verstappen, complains of no grip on the radio and weaves over the hanger straight.

A DRS train has formed in the low points-paying positions, as the teams wait for the pit window to open. Further down the order,  Tsunoda and Gasly perform synchronised spinning after an optimistic move from Tsunoda. Both continue.

Ferrari team orders – or not?

By lap 15, the two Ferrari’s continue to battle, allowing Hamilton to close on the pair.  The Mercedes sets the new fastest lap, 0.400s faster than Leclerc.  Leclerc requests to be let past his teammate as Sainz weaves. Sainz is told to meet a 1:32.00 target. The order remains the same. Hamilton is now 3.7 seconds behind Leclerc.

Sainz is the first of the front runners to pit on lap 20, as Hamilton gets to win 2.9 seconds over Leclerc. Sainz rejoins on the hard tyres, free of traffic. Hamilton continues to close on Leclerc over the next few laps, the Briton radioing his tyres are performing well still.  Hamilton gets to within 1 second of Leclerc, as the Ferrari pits, sending Hamilton into the lead at his home race. Leclerc rejoins behind his teammate.

Leclerc’s pace begins to pick up after a few laps as Hamilton continues to push hard.  Ferrari tells both drivers free to fight. Sainz is told he needs to meet the target or the cars will be swapped, the Spaniard requests one more lap. Leclerc dives down inside at the end of the hanger straight, and Sainz keeps P2. Ferrari then imposes team orders,  and Leclerc passes Sainz after a team instruction.  Hamilton finally pits on Lap 34, and like all other drivers weaves to warm up his tyres.   Leclerc uses this opportunity to pump in consistent fastest laps until Hamilton responds a few laps later.

Passes up and down the field

Latifi’s run in the points comes to an end on lap 31, passed by Mick Schumacher. The second Haas of Kevin Magnussen menacingly looms in behind  Williams. Norris pits from P4 to cover off Fernando Alonso’s Alpine. He rejoins ahead of the Spaniard.

Esteban Ocon in his repaired Alpine battles with Verstappen’s ailing Red Bull. Although he takes Verstappen on the next lap, the Red Bull passes again. Mick Schumacher continues to run in the points.

Safety Car

Verstappen retakes Ocon after the Alpine slows on the old pit straight, coming to a halt just before Copse corner. The Safety Car makes  an immediate appearance.  Sainz and Hamilton dive into the pits for softs, while race leader Leclerc stays out. The big winners under the Safety car are Perez who stops and joins in P4 after his incident at the race start, Vettel who rejoins P8, and Verstappen joins P9. Mick Schumacher pits himself into the points.

 9-lap sprint to the finish

Just before the restart,  Sainz demands to bet let past his teammate as the race resumes. The Spaniard had to find a way past his teammate, as the pit wall is non-comital. Sainz retakes the lead on the Wellington straight, as Leclerc runs wide on the entry to the straight.  Behind the two, Perez takes Hamilton for P3 in a stunning move. A released and reinvigorated Perez begins to close up to the back of Leclerc’s compromised Ferrari.  Hamilton attempts to take Perez into Copse corner on the next lap but bails out.

Lap 45 and 46 saw epic battles for P2, as Sainz’s Ferrari sailed off into the distance in P1.  Leclerc runs wide in Luffield, allowing Perez to attack into the final corner. Hamilton takes P2 to the cheers of the crowd after Leclerc and Perez run wide. Any hopes of a home victory are quickly dashed, as  Perez retakes P2 into the wellington straight, after forcing Hamilton wide. Hamilton continues in P4.

Hamilton and Leclerc keep battling after going side by side through Copse, in a stunning display of driving skill from both/Hamilton completes the move at the end of the hanger straight. The two cars are within millimetres of touching at 170mph, as their tyres get perilously close. The infamous clash in 2021 is forgotten as both cars survive the encounter.   Leclerc is now struggling for grip, under pressure from Alonso and Norris.

As the race draws to a close, Mick Schumacher is pressuring Verstappen for P8. He races Verstappen right to the line, with the Red Bull cutting off the Haas on the very last corner. Although the German is unable to take the Red Bull, Schumacher scores his first points in F1.

Zhou Guanyu posted a welcome update video after the race to update fans after his horror first corner crash.

Results (Classification):

  1. Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari -52 laps
  2. Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing +3.779
  3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +6.225
  4. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari +8.546
  5. Fernando Alonso Alpine +9.571
  6. Lando Norris McLaren +11.943
  7. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing +18.777
  8. Mick Schumacher Haas +18.995
  9. Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +22.356
  10. Kevin Magnussen Haas +24.590
  11. Lance Stroll Aston Martin +26.147
  12. Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing +32.511
  13. Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +32.817
  14. Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +40.910
  15. Esteban Ocon Alpine DNF
  16. Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri DNF
  17. Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo DNF
  18. George Russell Mercedes DNF
  19. Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo DNF
  20. Alexander Albon Williams Racing DNF

 

 

Feature Image Credit: Ferrari F1 Media 

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