Silverstone, 4 July 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz converted his maiden pole position into a first career Formula One victory on Sunday at a British Grand Prix overshadowed by a massive early crash for Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu.
Zhou was clipped by the Mercedes of George Russell in a furious opening from the green light and his Alfa Romeo flipped over, skidded off the gravel and thumped into the Silverstone track’s protective fence.
“I’m ok, all clear,” Zhou tweeted, adding the protective “Halo saved me today.”
He was eventually released from the medical centre without serious injury though Williams driver Alex Albon was transferred to hospital after also suffering a high impact crash.
Sainz was aided by a late safety car and overtook team-mate Charles Leclerc at the start of the final 10-lap sprint. He was then helped further by Sergio Perez’s Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes having a remarkable fight to reach the podium behind him, forcing Leclerc into fourth.
Standings leader Max Verstappen was out of contention having damaged his Red Bull when when first, en route to finishing seventh.
Reigning champion Verstappen leads the standings by 34 points from Perez going into Red Bull’s home race in Austria next week.
Sainz’s first win came in his 150th race and came from Ferrari not pitting Leclerc when Esteban Ocon’s broken Alpine caused a lap 39 safety car.
“I don’t know what to say,” the Spaniard said. “It’s amazing. It’s a very special day I will never forget.
“It was not easy, I struggled a lot with the balance on the first stint. All of a sudden the safety car gave us a chance to get back in it and we did it.”
A brilliant re-start on fresh rubber let him cruise to victory while Leclerc lost out to Perez – who superbly recovered from early damage – and then Hamilton, who himself had led for a while due to a late pit stop.
It was a great comeback, we never gave up and kept pushing,” said Perez. “We kept trying. It was some epic final laps.”
Hamilton, whose Mercedes suffered less from bouncing than previously under modified rules, admitted: “We lost a bit of time in the pit stops, and then I was chasing and chasing, but the pace was good.
“We are going to continue to push, try and give it everything we can.”
After qualifying in the wet, drivers had free tyre choice and Verstappen, on softs, easily raced clear of maiden pole-sitter Sainz on mediums from the start.
But after a break of nearly an hour following the Zhou’s crash, which ended the race of home hope Russell, there was a restart using the initial grid.
Sainz held off Verstappen in another frantic open but a mistake conceded the lead on lap 12 only for Verstappen to limp into the pits two laps later.
Leclerc complained about Sainz’s lack of pace regularly and after pit stops on laps 20 and 24, was eventually swapped with his team-mate only to be undone later. He missed a great chance to re-ignite his title hopes.
Fernando Alonso (Alpine) and Lando Norris (McLaren) were fifth and sixth while Germany’s Mick Schumacher (Haas) took his first career points in eighth, ahead of compatriot and 35th birthday-boy Sebastian
Vettel (Aston Martin) in ninth. Kevin Magnussen of Haas was 10th.
Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) finished outside the points while Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) both retired.