Carlos Sainz takes his first ever race win in an action packed British Grand Prix
In a race that had practically everything you could ask for, pole sitter Carlos Sainz kept a cool head to take his first ever race win in Formula 1 at this weekends British Grand Prix, seeing off late challenges from Sergio Perez & Lewis Hamilton.
After a wet qualifying session yesterday, the sun shone across the historic Silverstone circuit for what was to be an incredible day of racing, which all started before most cars had made the first turn. We all thought with Verstappen on the front row starting we could have a repeat of last years first lap, however it was further back in the midfield where it all kicked off.
After getting off the line well, Pierre Gasly tried to follow Nicholas Latifi between Guanyu Zhou & George Russell, with George trying to move across to cover Pierre off but was clipped instead by the AlphaTauri, taking out himself & the Alfa Romeo Sauber in front. The first of the three however came out incredibly worse which saw his car go upside down & collide with the fencing of the Abbey grandstand.
This brought out an immediate red flag to the session, however nobody was harmed as Zhou was to recover & be discharged later on from Coventry Hospital. Also caught up in the incident were Alex Albon after getting tapped into the pit wall by Sebastian Vettel as well as Yuki Tsunoda, who’s AlphaTauri suffered major front wing damage due to Albon’s impact off the wall. Alex was also assessed at the nearby medical centre, however he also recovered promptly.
Below: The full first lap incident in full
The race did eventually got underway again at around an hour after the incident, with the grid returning to its original qualifying positions as not all cars crossed the second safety car line before the red flag was shown. Carlos Sainz held onto his pole position leading the two Red Bull’s and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc behind. All four cars battled round “The Loop” in towards Aintree Corner, however Leclerc became too desperate to get ahead and collided with Sergio Perez’ Red Bull after attempting to make a move down the inside, with Perez picking up damage forcing him to box at the end of that lap. Leclerc also attempted to make a move down the inside of Max Verstappen at Brooklands, however he had to yield as he ran out of room as Max squeezed him off the track.
The introduction of DRS to the race brought the action closer together, first allowing Lewis Hamilton up into 4th, passing Lando Norris down the Wellington Straight on lap 8. This allowed Lewis to have clean air and begin his charge towards the Ferrari’s in front, who already had trouble of their own 2 laps later. Carlos Sainz’ had a snap of oversteer coming off of Chapel corner into Hanger Straight forcing him onto the run off area, and with a helping of DRS allow Verstappen into the lead of the race.
Lap 12 however saw Verstappen lose out again after going slow at Chapel presumably due to a puncture at the time, but later discovered to be floor damage to the reigning world champions car. The Spaniard re-took that lead with Max peeling off into the pits gifting Ferrari another 1–2.
Below: Max’s puncture allowing Ferrari into the lead
The major threat now to Mattia Binnoto’s men was now the ever-improving Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who was setting fastest lap times almost every lap and catching up at a rapid pace to the vulnerable Charles Leclerc. With Lewis coming on the radio to say “Tires are still strong” to his race engineer Peter Bonnington, it was clear Lewis was going long and staying out to potentially seal an overcut on the Ferrari’s.
However, with Sainz coming in early to avoid an undercut, it was clear Hamilton didn’t have the pace to get above the range Mercedes needed for him to get ahead of the Ferrari’s. He came in on lap 32, and boxed for a fresh set of hard compound tyres to bring him to the end of the race, but with a slow stop from the Mercedes pit crew put Lewis Hamilton back to square one into 3rd.
More chaos would ensue however as Esteban Ocon suffered a power unit issue which made him stop on track just before Copse corner, bringing out a safety car and in turn, most of the field into the pits. All cars apart from Stroll, Magnusson, Vettel & crucially Charles Leclerc all stayed out as they believed they could make it to the end of the race, with the rest boxing onto the soft compound tyres to see out the race.
After the safety car came in, some of the most incredible action this season unfolded in front of a sold out crowd of 140,000 people. With Perez already gaining the jump on Hamilton on the restart, this allowed him to chase after Leclerc going into Stowe, and with DRS made a move up the inside forcing the Ferrari wide but still recovering the place into Vale. Perez however cut the chicane at the corner, forcing both him and Leclerc wide and allowing Lewis Hamilton to swoop down the inside of both of them coming up to the line and move into 2nd place.
The battle wasn’t finished there however as Perez made a frantic move down the inside of Hamilton at Vale & made it stick round the loop, however in the process forcing Lewis off the track and dropping back to 4th place as Leclerc got better traction coming down the straight. Alonso also tried to capitalise behind however he didn’t have the pace to keep up with the front runners.
Below: Fantastic racing between the three cars battling for 2nd
Lewis however would get the bit of fortune that he needed before the end of the race, getting the move done on Leclerc coming through Stowe to put him on the podium in two successive races for the first time this year.
Due to the battling behind, Carlos Sainz pulled away and gained a big gap to the cars behind, who despite began to catch up towards the end held on and gained his first ever race win in Formula 1 and his 6th podium this season.
However, there was still action elsewhere as Mick Schumacher on for his best ever race result and first ever points finish in Formula 1 pushed further to capitalise on a damaged Red Bull of Max Verstappen, however the dutchman held on just about as the Haas nearly pipped him on the line.
The race result brings Carlos Sainz into 4th in the drivers championship ahead of George Russell, with Lewis Hamilton further pulling away from Lando Norris in 6th. Verstappen and Perez however still top the standings. Schumacher's first points as well as a P10 finish for Magnusson put Haas into 8th in the constructors above Aston Martin, with the battle for 4th very much between Alpine and Mclaren, with the gap only 6 points between them.
Going into next week we head to Spielburg in Austria, Red Bull’s home track and one predominantly home to many of the “Orange Army” of Max Verstappen. With an unfortunate weekend behind him, the dutchman will look to break history at the Red Bull Ring & make it a 4th win in 5 years in the Styrian alps. With that gap now closing at the top of the drivers championship, next week will be crucial not just for the constructors, but the drivers as well.
Written by: WFCHenry
More articles at medium.com/wfchenry