Carlos Sainz finally got his first win at the weekend with a fantastic drive amidst the drama of the British Grand Prix. Perez and Hamilton rounded out the podium with all three giving the passionate crowd plenty to cheer about.
After a wet qualifying, all eyes were on Sainz to see if he could convert his long-awaited pole into a win to take the pressure off him. Verstappen was poised to take the fight to both Ferrari’s with Leclerc in P3 while RedBull looked to use Perez in P4 to keep the championship battle very much alive.
Lights out and Verstappen got a better start than Sainz and was leading him into turn 1. Behind them Hamilton had a lighting start putting himself up to P3 ahead of Leclerc and Perez, making the crowd roar with approval. That was short-lived as further back there was a major crash.
George Russell bogged down on the start and fell back, as he moved forward he moved across to the left for the racing line. Next to him, Zhou was moving towards Russell however between their rear wheels Gasly was moving forward.
This pincer move meant that Russell hit Gasly who in turn then hit Zhou. This flipped the Alfa Romeo onto the halo for 150 metres before hitting the gravel at speed. It flipped over and eventually rolled over the tyre barrier into the catch fencing, landing in the gap between the tyres and the fence. Russell immediately ran over to check he was ok and helped the marshals and medical team who did a great job. Luckily Zhou was ok after a check at the medical centre.
While that was going on Albon was tapped from behind by Sebastian Vettel. This dramatically flicked him right, hitting the pitwall and back out onto the track. As he headed across he collected Ocon and was pinged back, hitting Tsunoda before coming to a stop. Ocon suffered some suspension damage and Tsunoda lost his front wing. Albon was transferred to the hospital because the incident had triggered his G-Force sensor but he was ok and released on the same day.
After all of that, the red flag was brought out as they exited turn 3 and were brought back into the pits while they repaired the barrier. There was debate from the crowd but because they hadn’t completed an entire lap under the green flag, the standing start would go back to the qualifying grid formation.
As everyone waited for the restart we lost Russell, Albon and Zhou. The others were able to repair the cars during the red flag. This would also give Sainz the chance to re-do his start, hoping to stay in front of Verstappen.
On the restart, Sainz got a much better start but was on the outside of Verstappen heading into Abbey. He had the inside line for farm and pushed Verstappen wide taking the place. As Verstappen fought back Perez and Leclerc were having their own fight behind them and going into the loop they were four wide. This meant Leclerc (who was on the inside) hit the sausage curb and picked up damage to his front wing. Perez didn’t come away unscathed either, he also had damage on his front wing.
Coming onto the wellington straight Sainz was ahead, then Verstappen, Leclerc and Perez. The remaining brits in P5 and P6 were alongside each other all the way down to Brooklands. Hamilton on the outside and Norris on the inside. Both were evenly matched and the battle continued with Hamilton on the inside all the way around Luffield. Eventually, Hamilton yielded before heading into Copse corner.
Lap 6 and Perez went in early for a new set of mediums while repairing his front wing damage. This left the McLaren of Norris a sitting duck on the wellington straight without DRS to defend against Hamilton. The Mercedes used this to his advantage and makes the move down the inside of Brooklands. Hamilton could then stretch his legs and become the driver of last year, setting a new fastest lap almost every time he passed the finish line, catching the leaders.
A few laps later Verstappen was pressuring Sainz for the lead. Sainz made a mistake and went wide out of Becketts, leaving the door wide open for Verstappen, who took full advantage. However, it wasn’t too last. On lap 12 Verstappen appeared to be slowing down and both Ferrari’s overtook him before he divided in the pits.
Sent back out on fresh tyres, the RedBull engineers confirmed it was body damage but was not critical. This did affect his performance though. After some encouragement from JP, Verstappen carried on in the race. He couldn’t keep up with the leaders and fell back into the midfield.
With Verstappen gone, the Ferrari’s were left to battle and keep Hamilton at bay, but with the Merc closing the gap rapidly it became clear that Leclerc was faster than Sainz in front. By lap 31 the team order came, and they swapped positions.
Eight laps later Ocon stops on the national pit straight with engine problems, bringing out the safety car. Hamilton, Perez and Sainz all pitted for new soft tyres, but Ferrari left Leclerc out on his old tyres. This looked like another unusual strategy call from Ferrari.
At the restart, Leclerc was P1, Sainz P2, Hamilton P3 and Perez P4 with Alonso and Norris behind. Hamilton was caught napping a little and down the main straight Perez was all over the back of the Mercedes, trying to find a way past.
As they all rounded onto the wellington straight Sainz had better traction at the exit of the loop with newer tyres and was alongside his teammate into Brooklands. Leclerc eventually had to yield to Sainz before Luffield. Meanwhile, Perez was alongside Hamilton but was ahead before Brooklands.
Lap 45, Leclerc on the older tyres struggled to keep up with his teammate and now had Perez to defend from. An epic battle began down the Hangar straight as Perez had the inside line around Stowe, but Leclerc held on down towards the Vale chicane.
Leclerc had the inside line in the first corner and slightly ahead, Perez went off the track at the second corner pushing them wide at Club leaving the door wide open for Hamilton to steam past them both causing the crowd to erupt.
Perez went ahead of Leclerc and had good pace down the main straight. Into the braking zone of turn, 3 Perez was up the inside of Hamilton and took the P2 back, leaving Hamilton to defend off Leclerc who went around the outside of the Loop onto the Wellington straight.
Leclerc had more speed than Hamilton and into Brooklands Hamilton was looking behind at Alonso before trying again around the outside of Leclerc at Luffield. Eventually, they all had to back out before Copse but giving Sainz the chance to create a gap.
On lap 48 Hamilton had DRS down the Wellington straight on Leclerc. He made a move around the outside of Luffield but came out ahead this time. However, Leclerc was with him all the way and went around the outside at Copse to take the place back. This wasn’t to last as with DRS again Hamilton took Leclerc down the Hangar straight before Stowe and made the move stick.
As the final lap approached Mick Schumacher had been making his way quietly into the points and was now P8. Verstappen was the car ahead and with performance problems, Schumacher had pace on the RedBull. On lap 51 Schumacher attempted to get past down the Wellington straight but unfortunately couldn’t make anything of it. So, on lap 52 of 52 he made one last attempt heading into Vale and around Club, almost alongside the RedBull but the finish line came too quickly for him to make it P7.
Carlos Sainz crossed the line to make it his first victory in Formula 1 and finally getting the pressure off his back about his performance. Perez was in P2 with Hamilton in P3 in what seemed to be a much improved Mercedes. A huge shoutout to Schumacher who finally got his first points finish and Haas got a double points finish with Magnussen in P8.