Carlos Sainz secured his first ever victory in Formula 1 after a 2022 British GP which swung back and forth between multiple drivers at the front of the field.
The Spaniard started the race on pole, but lost out on the first start of the day at Silverstone to Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Following a frightening crash for Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu at the start of the first lap, the grid was reset after a one-hour delay for a red flag, as the cars had yet to complete a full lap, and Sainz didn’t allow Verstappen to repeat the feat as he was able to squeeze out the Dutchman and maintain the lead.
From there the drama ramped up even further, with Sainz actually being ordered to cede the lead of the race to Leclerc as the two Ferraris battled at the front after Verstappen suffered a puncture on Lap 12 which forced him to pit and slip down the order.
That allowed Lewis Hamilton to enter the fray in third, and with the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez running at the back of the grid after suffering front wing damage from a collision with Leclerc after the first restart, the Ferraris were battling each other at the front.
With Hamilton rapidly closing the pair down, the decision was made to pit Sainz on Lap 20 to prevent the undercut from Mercedes, with Leclerc pushing the team to let him pass the Spaniard on the basis of his superior pace.
As the Brit chased down Leclerc, the Monegasque also came into the pits, giving a rapturous British crowd something to cheer about as Hamilton took the lead of the race.
Unfortunately for Mercedes, a slightly slow pitstop for Hamilton when he eventually came into the pits for hard tyres on Lap 34 meant that he fell back behind the two Ferraris.
With Leclerc in the lead, the race was once again turned on its head on Lap 39 as the Alpine of Esteban Ocon came to a halt on the Hanger Straight, bringing out a safety car and closing up the pack – including the Red Bull of Perez, who found himself back in the fight after his poor start.
The restart led to a flurry of moves in the top four, with Sainz, Hamilton and Perez all pitting for soft tyres while Ferrari opted to split their strategy and leave Leclerc out on his used set of hards.
Hamilton struggled in the first moments as Leclerc got the pack moving again on Lap 46, and that allowed Perez through into third.
Meanwhile Sainz, having refused Ferrari’s suggestion to back up the pack and allow Leclerc to build a gap at the front, made his way past his teammate at Village, taking a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Behind him the drama continued to unfold, with Hamilton at one point passing the fighting Leclerc and Perez into second, but the Mexican was able to fight back and eventually take the second spot on the podium, while Leclerc was the biggest loser as he was unable to keep up on his hard tyres and came home in fourth.
Meanwhile behind the leaders, Fernando Alonso secured a good result for Alpine in fifth, as the Spaniard managed to keep the chasing McLaren of Lando Norris at bay.
Verstappen, who struggled for pace throughout the race due to damage to the rear of his car, had to fight with the Haas of Mick Schumacher to keep seventh, as the young German scored his first ever points finish in F1.
Aston Martin had a better race as Sebastian Vettel scored the team’s first points for several races, with Haas getting a double points finish for the first time in 2022 with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10.
The race saw six drivers retire, and the 2022 British Grand Prix will surely go down as one of the most exciting this historic race track at Silverstone has ever seen.
Zhou hits the fences
The race got off to a fierce start, as Verstappen was able to sweep past Carlos Sainz – starting from pole for the first time in 150 Grand prix – while Hamilton also had a stellar start off the line and worked his way up past a slow Leclerc and Perez into third.
But attention almost immediately focussed on events towards the back of the top 10, as in the background of the broadcast the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu was seen spinning off the track and into the fences upside down.
The incident was the result of a collision with George Russell, as the Mercedes got a slow start off the line and was passed by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.
Pierre Gasly then tried to follow the Canadian through the gap between Zhou and Russell, but the Mercedes driver moved slightly to the left to cover off the move, and in doing so the AlphaTauri tapped his rear left tyre.
That contact pushed Russell into the Alfa Romeo, and Zhou was immediately sent flying, the car going upside down and spinning rapidly towards the barriers.
The car actually caught airtime just before the barriers, and so Zhou was thrown once again upside down into the catch fencing.
The incident immediately brought out the red flags, and there was a delay of nearly 1 hour as the recovery teams worked to retrieve the Alfa Romeo and Zhou safely, with the Chinese driver brought out in a stretcher and thankfully the news eventually filtered through that he was safe and well.
Russell’s car suffered irreparable damage in the crash, and so the Brit was forced to retire from his inaugural British GP as a Mercedes driver.
That crash also inadvertently led to another incident further back in the field.
With the smoke and debris from the initial collision across the track, Valtteri Bottas braked to avoid the chaos, with Alex Albon reacting in his Williams to similarly slow the car down.
As a result, Vettel was unable to slow his Aston Martin behind, and the German careened into the back of Albon, leading to the third retirement of the race before the pack had navigated the first corner.