Carlos Sainz summoned every ounce of grit and determination to win the thrilling British Grand Prix
Leave it to Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Silverstone, the birthplace of Formula One’s first Grand Prix, to remind everyone of the breathtaking force and Shakespearean drama that is Formula 1.
On the weekend of his 150th Grand Prix start, the Spaniard triumphantly claimed his first victory in the epic 2022 British Grand Prix ahead of second-place Sergio Perez and an energized Lewis Hamilton in third place.
The record crowd of 142,000 fans in Northamptonshire witnessed the most enthralling race of the 2022 season.
The final act was always in doubt, beginning with the horrific sight of Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo flipping over the tire barriers at the start, followed by strategic gambles and exciting repeated lead changes.
Sainz’s opportunity of a first win appeared to evaporate twice. He had a significant error at Becketts, giving Verstappen the lead and then later, Ferrari ordered him to let teammate Charles Leclerc through on Lap 32 of 52.
However, when he saw the opportunity for victory, Sainz summoned every ounce of race craft to win a brilliant 10-lap duel to the flag.
Ferrari’s disappointed Charles Leclerc followed Hamilton, with evergreen Fernando Alonso (Alpine) claiming Fifth place. Lando Norris (McLaren) took Sixth, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen seventh. Mick Schumacher (Haas) took his first F1 points in Eighth, followed by Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin). Kevin Magnussen brought the final point for Haas.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz claimed his maiden pole position in Formula 1 with a superb lap in wet qualifying, beating Max Verstappen less than a tenth of a second.
Silverstone saw rain arrive just before qualifying began. The conditions were consistently wet – though not wet enough for extreme wet tyres – though there were spots that could catch a driver out.
run Verstappen easily topped both Q1 and Q2 charts. With just two minutes remaining, the Dutchman also led Q3 in front of Hamilton and Leclerc. But then Sainz, who’d quietly built momentum since leading FP2 on Friday afternoon, took the chequered flag with a lap quick enough for provisional pole.
It could have been different. Verstappen and Leclerc were going quickly until the final minute when the Monegasque spun on his last flying lap forcing Verstappen to slow. Seconds earlier, Sainz found his groove on his final lap to stop the timer at 1m 40.983 and take provisional P1 with an effort he described as “terrible”.
Sainz qualified just 0.072s ahead of the unlucky Verstappen, with Leclerc P3, 0.315s slower than his Ferrari teammate. Ferrari radioed the news to Sainz, who replied: “I was terrible out there! How did I get P1?!”
“You kept it together like a smooth operator!” laughed his engineer.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finished P4, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, with Lando Norris P6, with Fernando Alonso and George Russell rounding out the top eight. Zhou Guanyu was P9, while Nicholas Latifi survived a scary off at Turn 1 to take P10 on his first-ever Q3 appearance.
At lights out, Max Verstappen blasted past pole-sitter Carlos Sainz to lead, as a very racy Lewis Hamilton moved up to third place in front of Leclerc and Alonso.
As the pack approached the 160mph Abbey first turn, rookie Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu, who had started ninth, was
sandwiched between Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri on his left and George Russell’s Mercedes on the right.
In that instant, the Alfa flipped upside down onto the pavement before sliding on the Halo bar into the run-off area at Abbey at high speed.
The Alfa dug into the gravel, flipping up and over the tyre barrier to be finally trapped by debris fencing. Its last act was dropping into the gap between the fence and the wall. It took several minutes for Zhou to remove him safely. Amazingly he was unharmed.
At that exact moment, Sebastian Vettel ran into the back of Alex Albon, pushing the Williams driver into the inside barrier.
The race was immediately red-flagged. The race would restart from the previous day’s qualifying session.
Starting on pole again, Sainz made sure he robustly defended from the ever-present Verstappen in an impressive scrap, with Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc fighting tooth and nail behind.
Such was the Dutchman’s race pace; Sainz could not afford to make the slightest mistake. When, under sustained pressure, he slid wide at Becketts on Lap 10, and Verstappen pounced.
However, on Lap 11, Verstappen suddenly slowed. The Dutchman had driven over a front wing endplate ripped off when AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda collided. The part lodged within a tunnel underneath the Red Bull’s floor, creating a colossal aero loss.
After pitting for fresh tyres of mediums on Lap 12, his car remained nearly unraceable. Verstappen struggled to finish 7th, repelling Mick Schumacher’s attacks in a thrilling late scrap that lasted until the final corner.
Leclerc quickly closed on Sainz before Ferrari brought him in for hard tyre on Lap 20, handing the lead to Leclerc until the Monegasque stopped five laps later, handing the lead back to the marginally slower Sainz.
Ferrari gave Sainz the chance to lift his pace but decided he could not run fast enough. On Lap 31, Ferrari ordered the Spaniard to let Leclerc pass on the Wellington Straight.
Leclerc edged clear to lead by just under a second but only matched Hamilton’s times up front. On Lap 34, the Brit pitted for hards. In the switch, his used left-front medium briefly jammed. He rejoined now behind the two Ferraris.
Leclerc began building a lead over Sainz, who was ordered to save fuel to his frustration. The gap between the pair reached 3.5s at the end of lap 38.
Then on Lap 39, Ocon’s Alpine stopped in Copse Corner, bringing out the Safety Car. Hamilton pitted for softs, as did Sainz. Leclerc stayed out, choosing track position with warm old hard tyres in the final laps.
The race restarted on Lap 43, and the Ferraris led the way, with Perez passing Hamilton. Moments later, Leclerc lost momentum going wide out of Aintree and onto the Wellington Straight, allowing Sainz to blast back to the lead into Luffield.
It prove to be the pivotal moment.
Sainz steamed clear, with Leclerc falling back on worn tyres while running ahead of Perez, who quickly passed Hamilton through Aintree.
On Lap 45, with Sainz ahead by 2.3s, Leclerc slid through Luffield as Perez tried to make the pass on the inside line at Stowe. But Leclerc hung on brilliantly, and they went side-by- side through the first two parts of Club, with Perez seeming to go off track exiting the second apex.
Hamilton then dispatched both onto the Hamilton straight opposite the pits to take second place.
Perez forcefully re-passed Hamilton at Village on the next lap.
However, the action was not over, as, on Lap 47, Hamilton went around Leclerc’s outside through Luffield to run third by the time they reached Woodcote. But Leclerc did not give up and somehow pushed his much older hards to get a run on the outside of Copse on Lap 48, where he re-passed Hamilton in a stunning move.
Nevertheless, the Brit got the position back into Stowe to remain 2.4sec behind Perez.
At the flag, Sainz took his first win for Ferrari by 3.7sec., becoming the second Spaniard to take an F1 race win.