Carlos Sainz claimed his first Formula One triumph at a rollercoaster and action-packed British Grand Prix ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.
The race, quite comfortably the best of the season so far, included a dramatic crash at the start which saw Zhou Guanyu’s car flipped over tire barrier, protesters forcing their way onto the track on the opening lap and championship leader Max Verstappen dropping down the order with a damaged car.
Sainz’s chances of a first win appeared to have completely disappeared at two different points in the race, first after a big mistake at Becketts and then after he obeyed a team order to let teammate Charles Leclerc through on Lap 32 of 52.
A late Safety Car and race restart 10 laps later provided a perfect opportunity for Sainz to reclaim the lead and scamper away with the win as an unbelievable finish unfolded in the battle for second behind him between Perez, Hamilton and Leclerc.
“Yes! We did it! Yes! Vamos!” Sainz shouted over the radio after crossing the line, securing his first win in 151 F1 attempts.
Home favorite Hamilton had looked in a perfect position to challenge the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz for his first victory of the season until that Safety Car deployment and immediately lost position to Perez at the restart.
An epic battle for second and third then unfolded between Perez, Hamilton and Leclerc, featuring multiple position changes and some aggressive driving from all three drivers.
On lap 48, Perez forced Leclerc wide at the final corner, allowing Hamilton up into second. Several corners later, Perez forced Hamilton wide to reclaim the position and the Mercedes driver fell behind Leclerc.
Leclerc turned in some incredible defensive driving to keep Hamilton at bay for as long as he could in the closing stages but in the end could not do anything about the major tire disadvantage he had been left with at the Safety Car restart.
For Hamilton it was his second visit to the podium in two races and a clear sign of the progress Mercedes has made in recent races.
Leclerc had to settle for fourth position, having lost a rare opportunity to make a bigger dent in Verstappen’s championship lead.
Verstappen concluded seventh after holding off Haas’ Mick Schumacher in the run to the finish line.
Verstappen still holds a healthy lead in the championship, 34 points ahead of teammate Perez and 43 ahead of Leclerc.
Sainz’s voctory moved him ahead of George Russell, who did not finish, and into fourth position in the title fight.
The events of the first 10 seconds of the race set the tone for the dramatic afternoon which followed.
Alfa Romeo rookie Zhou Gaunyu was vaulted into a terrifying barrel roll at Turn 1 which left his car upside down in the tire barrier and prompted a red flag race suspension.
Zhou had been tagged by the Mercedes of George Russell, who in turn had been hit by Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.
Russell’s race ended in the gravel trap at Turn 1, while Alex Albon was also spun into the wall at Turn 1.
Gasly was later spun around by teammate Yuki Tsunoda.
All those incidents opened up a perfect opportunity for Haas to bounce back from a deflating Saturday which had seen both drivers eliminated in Q1, as Schumacher finally claimed the first F1 points of his career.
An emotional Schumacher apologized to Haas after finishing after swearing over the radio as he celebrated the finish. Teammate Kevin Magnussen claimed the final points paying position of the afternoon in 10th.