Carlos Sainz claimed his first Formula 1 win in his 150th race on Sunday as he drove his Ferrari to spectacular triumph in a furious and crash-stricken British Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Spaniard, starting from his first pole position, opposed an attacking Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was recovering from 17th, to capture the flag by 3.7 seconds in front of a record 142,000 crowd on the super-fast circuit of Silverstone .
Home hero and seven-time Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton took third and took a record 13th podium finish on home soil, an unprecedented total for any driver in a single event.
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With his fresher tires in the closing stages, Hamilton resisted, passing Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari, finishing fourth ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris.
World champion and series leader Max Verstappen finished seventh ahead of Red Bull.
Sebastian Vettel, who had started 18th on his birthday, and Kevin Magnussen in Haas second rounded out the top 10.
“I don’t know what to say,” said a beaming Sainz. “It’s great. My first Formula 1 win at my 150th race and for Ferrari at Silverstone! It’s great.” Perez was happy too. “It was a great comeback,” he said. “We never gave up and kept pushing. We kept trying. It was epic in some of those last laps.” Paying tribute to the crowd, Hamilton said Silverstone was unrivaled around the world for the scale and depth of enthusiasm demonstrated at the British event, which provided stunning entertainment on Sunday.
“I gave everything today,” said Hamilton. “I tried to chase, but the Red Bull and the Ferraris were too fast on the straights.”
– Multiple car collision –
Verstappen was 181 points ahead in the title race, away from Perez with 147, Leclerc with 138 and Sainz with 127.
The start was marred by a massive multi-car collision at high speed, with Zhou Guanyu making a remarkable breakaway after his Alfa Romeo skidded upside down through a gravel box.
The Chinese rookie was rescued from his battered car by a specialized team and after a thorough check-up was back in the pits to watch the end of the race.
“I’m okay, everything is clear. Halo saved me today. Thank you everyone for your sweet messages!” he tweeted.
The race will restart one hour later, according to the original starting order. Three drivers were missing – Zhou, Williams’ Alex Albon and George Russell of Mercedes – as the lights went out and Sainz, in a fierce fighting mood, bravely resisted Verstappen to retain the lead.
Leclerc also made an aggressive start, hitting the wheels with Perez, who sustained damage to the front wing, and Verstappen before the order was settled on lap five.
In a frantic period of action, Sainz ran off the track and across the grass at Becketts on lap 10, giving Verstappen the initiative again, but two laps later the Dutchman slowed down and suffered a puncture.
Sainz led again as a 3.1 second stop before Verstappen, who reported hitting debris, dropped him to sixth.
Amid this drama, Hamilton closed out on Leclerc before Sainz came out of the pits from the lead, Leclerc took over for Hamilton and the Spaniard finished third ahead of Norris.
Hamilton pushed as Verstappen entered the pits again before Leclerc pitted on lap 25. He returned in third, behind Sainz, while Hamilton stayed out and enjoyed leading a race for the first time this year.
Behind him, Ferrari told their drivers they were “free to fight” as Leclerc chased second-placed Sainz, who drifted for Hamilton for 18 seconds but warned a trade was needed.
It came to a head on lap 31 when Sainz dropped Leclerc on Wellington Straight for second.
This left Hamilton 18.7 seconds ahead of him before pitting on lap 34 and finishing third, 3.4 seconds behind Sainz, but with tires 13 laps fresher until a safety car intervention with 12 laps to go when Esteban Ocon’s Alpine came to a stop.
At the restart, Perez overshot Hamilton and Sainz overtook Leclerc to regain the lead, but things were tense and as the Spaniard pulled away, the trio crept behind him and switched places with savage surrender.
Perez pushed his way into second, Leclerc and Hamilton battled and both Alonso and Norris closed within a second, setting up a furious final.
During the red flag hiatus, climate activists staged a sit-down protest at the track before being removed, with police making a number of arrests.
It was a critical weekend for Leclerc and again he was disappointed not to be able to take advantage of series leader and world champion Max Verstappen who struggled and finished only seventh.
“I did my very best,” he said. “But it wasn’t enough and it’s obviously disappointing.
“At the end of the race it was really nice to race so close, but on the other hand I had ‘hards’ and everyone else was on ‘softs’.
“After the race Mattia (Binotto, Ferrari team chief) wanted to cheer me up and we had a chat. That is it. Nothing else.
“We have to look at the global picture. For my part I only have my race and I feel like I lost so much time – it’s just my opinion but I haven’t seen the full picture.
“I don’t want to focus on my disappointing race. For my team-mate it is very special to win his first race in F1.”