Carlos Sainz Jr. lost the lead on the start of the British Grand Prix, struggling to get going from his first career pole. A red flag for a major crash in turn 1 gave him another chance, with the series ruling that the race would restart from the original grid order rather than from the order in turn 1. He did not make the same mistake a second time.
Sainz did not have an easy path to the race win, though. He was under threat not only from second-placed Verstappen but from the entire top four on the second opening lap, including a moment where all four drivers were briefly inches from contact with one another. Both Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc suffered minor damage on the exchange, while Sainz pulled away with the lead.
Then, he gave it up. Sainz slipped up mid-corner and went off track over-correcting, handing the lead to Verstappen early. He got it back a couple laps later, when Verstappen reported what he initially believed to be the beginning of a puncture. That would instead turn out to be an aerodynamic imbalance, once that greatly slowed the championship leader and left him fighting to hold onto seventh in the closing laps. Then Sainz got caught by his teammate Charles Leclerc, who asked to be let through despite his wing damage. With Lewis Hamilton cutting down their lead quickly in third, Sainz let Leclerc by after both cars stopped.
Esteban Ocon slowed on track a few laps later, eventually coming to a halt on what used to be the track's front straightaway. When the safety car came out, Ferrari chose to split their strategy: Leclerc stayed out on hard tires in the lead, while Sainz stopped for softs. Hamilton stopped for softs, too, as did a few other cars behind. With F1's safety car procedure again punishing the leader, Leclerc was left out to dry. Sainz was the beneficiary, making the move on his teammate while cameras were focused on a battle for third.
It is the first win for Sainz, a mark that took nearly 150 attempts to reach. The former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver got here by leaving Red Bull's driver development program for Renault, leaving Renault for McLaren, and finally taking a seat at Ferrari last year. Now, that long battle to get to a winning car has finally led Sainz to a race win.
Leclerc came out fourth, losing out in a long three-car dogfight with Hamilton and Sergio Perez. The Red Bull driver took second and Hamilton held on for third, but stewards have noted an incident where Perez forced Hamilton off track during the battle and a time penalty could come down later. Fernando Alonso grabbed fifth, followed by Lando Norris and Max Verstappen. Mick Schumacher grabbed his first ever points in eighth, coming up just short in a battle with Verstappen for seventh in the closing laps. Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen capped off the points scorers, while all of Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, George Russell, Guanyu Zhou, and Alex Albon retired.
The Formula 1 season continues in Austria next weekend. If the balance of power seen today holds, Mercedes will be right back in the middle of the fight with Red Bull and Ferrari.
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