Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has won his first ever Formula 1 race at Silverstone, converting his first ever pole to an entertaining race win.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo missed out on a points paying finish, his weekend never really got going and the West Australian finished the British Grand Prix in 13th.
It was a dramatic afternoon for drivers and spectators at the UK round of the World Championship, with the race red flagged after just one corner following a frightening, high speed crash involving a number of competitors.
The importance of Formula 1’s safety systems, both on the car and on the track, were on full show as Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu’s car was flipped and crashed into debris fencing and a tyre barrier. It took some time for officials to remove the Chinese driver, however he managed to survive the crash with no injuries thanks to the halo and other crash structures now commonplace.
Alexander Albon and George Russell ended their respective afternoons early, as a number of cars came together in the opening corner clash. A handful of other drivers were able to use the red flag period to repair cars that would have otherwise been forced to retire, after limping back to the pits.
When the race eventually resumed, Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc enjoyed an intense battle of their own throughout the race’s 52 laps, despite an early charge by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was looking like running away with the race himself, however damage to his car meant he lost significant pace and was forced into the pits for a tyre change and he never regained his early speed, ending the day in seventh only narrowly beating Haas’ Mick Schumacher to the line in a tight tussle.
A late safety car threatened to completely mix up the finishing order, with the timing of the incident allowing a number of the front runners to pit for new, soft tyres. Leclerc remained out on his used, hard tyres, leaving him vulnerable on the restart.
Leclerc was quickly passed by Sainz, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – the latter enjoying a highly anticipated return to the podium, finishing third in his home Grand Prix.
While the battle raged on behind Sainz, the Spaniard was able to drive clear in front and claim his maiden victory at the highest level.
“Winning my first F1 GP and with Scuderia Ferrari in front of this amazing crowd, at one of my favourite tracks, Silverstone, is literally amazing,” Sainz said post-race.
“Mentally it was one of the toughest races I’ve done: managing the gaps, lots of fights on track, the second start. We struggled a bit with understeer and on the second stint we had to save fuel in order to make it to the end, so the lift-and-coast put me at risk from the cars behind. However, as soon as the Safety Car came out, we knew it was paramount to change the tyres as mine were pretty old.
“At the restart, I had fresher tyres but we were fighting for a one-two as a team, so I tried to be as clean as possible in overtaking Charles. Thanks to the fuel saved behind the Safety Car we could then push until the end and finally I got my first win. I will enjoy it for today but we’ll immediately start working on preparing for the next one.”
As for Ricciardo, it was another tough afternoon on track.
“For our race, the car just didn’t really seem to operate at the same level of grip as the others. I could just feel it through the tyres as well, trying to carry speed. It was just a bit odd, so we have a bit of investigating to do,” Ricciardo said.
“Then we had an issue with DRS which meant I couldn’t use it after lap 31 which was also a bit of a shame. Obviously, it’s tough to overtake with that as well – but simply we weren’t really quick enough anyway today. It was a bit of a lonely afternoon.”
It’s back-to-back rounds for the Formula 1 paddock, with the next event taking place in Austria this weekend.