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Three Takeaways From British GP as Carlos Sainz Captures Thrilling Maiden F1 Win

The Spaniard defended Ferrari’s team orders as he converted his maiden pole to a victory at Silverstone.

The 2022 British Grand Prix can easily be described in two words: a roller coaster. 

It started with two massive wrecks that made fans gasp and watch in horror as Zhou Guanyu flipped upside down before vaulting over the barrier, and Alex Albon being sent to the hospital for a completely separate wreck in the opening lap. Questions were raised about Ferrari’s strategy again mid-race as the team told Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz initially to battle it out before having the Monegasque pass the Spaniard for first. 

Then, a safety car made an already thrilling race that much more interesting. Esteban Ocon came to a stop at Copse, triggering a safety car. A slew of vehicles dove down into the pits, but Leclerc stayed out on his hard tires. Sainz, Sergio Pérez and Lewis Hamilton emerged with fresh tires.

Sainz then later overtook his teammate to cruise to his first Formula One win as a battle ensued between Leclerc, Pérez and Hamilton, the latter two taking second and third, respectively. 

Lando Norris, Sainz’s former teammate, said, “It’s about time Carlos won a race.” Fernando Alonso embraced Sainz afterwards as the two of them are the only Spaniards to win a F1 race. And for Sainz, who started his 150th F1 race on Sunday, this was a dream come true. 

“It was not easy. I struggled quite a bit with the balance, especially on the first stint with medium tyre, Max was forcing us to push a lot through the high speed. But even with all that I kept believing that it could still happen,” he said. “I needed to stay in the race like I was trying to and then all of a sudden the safety car gave me the opportunity to get back on it. Yeah, we did it.

“You can imagine the nerves on that safety car restart, knowing it was my chance and getting it done.”

Notably missing from the top five are Max Verstappen and George Russell. The Red Bull driver pitted for a puncture early on after the standing restart, and it was later discovered he likely had rear bodywork damage. He said over the team radio at one point, “the car is 100% broken.” Verstappen finished the day in seventh. 

Meanwhile, Russell has been consistent throughout the season, becoming the only driver to finish in the top five every race until his home grand prix on Sunday. He was involved in Zhou’s wreck, but his DNF was not due to too much damage to the Mercedes car. 

Here are three takeaways from a chaotic day at Silverstone. 

Ferrari’s strategy decision raised some questions.

This isn’t the first time this season that Ferrari’s strategy choices have caused a few eyebrows to raise. 

With Verstappen out of contention, Sainz soon felt the pressure from his teammate even though Leclerc had a damaged front wing. As the gap narrowed, the Prancing Horse made a surprising call. 

At first, Ferrari decided to let the two fight. Sainz was eventually told the target lap time was one minute and 32.2 seconds, and if he could not reach it, “we are swapping the cars.” He was unable to do so, and Leclerc was let through with Hamilton speeding behind the Ferrari duo.  

Sainz, though, defended the use of team orders. 

“I gave myself the best chance to stay ahead, by pushing as much as I could, but to a point that I was destroying so much my front tire that it made total sense for Charles to go through, and I let him by as soon as the team told me to do so,” Sainz said. “I’ve always been a team player, I will always be a team player and especially in Ferrari, I know the team is in front of me and my personal interests. I had the same philosophy when I overtook Charles, when I overtook him back. Today is a good example that we managed the race; we had two cars, first and second, before the Safety Car restart.”

On Sunday, just a few races after the Monaco pitting snafu, the Italian team deployed an interesting pit strategy when Ocon stopping brought out a safety car, a decision that Ferrari team boss Mattie Binotto didn’t hesitate to defend. 

With 14 laps remaining, pit lane was buzzing as much of what was left of the field dove in for new tires. Leclerc, who was the race leader, remained out on his hard tires—the only driver to still have them on when the rest of the field emerged. Sainz was brought in for softs, and Leclerc commented over the radio how it would be “hard” to chase cars on soft tires in the closing stages. And, he ended up being right. 

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Leclerc lost the lead to Sainz and eventually was overtaken by both Hamilton and Pérez but not without one heck of a fight. 

Binotto said after the race that it was “too close to stop both of them,” and Leclerc was left out since he had fresher tires and a better track position. 

“And Carlos, by stopping and being second, he would have protected at least in the first couple of corners where we knew that starting on the hard, it would have been a bit more difficult. That was the reason why we decided,” Binotto said. “Then we were hoping for more tire degradation on the softs, to give Charles, yeah, maybe a difficult three or four laps initially but then recovering later on, but the soft didn’t degrade as we were hoping.”

Binotto felt that the team’s strategy calls were “the right and proper ones at each single time,” and the only possible miscue was Leclerc staying out. But, the team boss was quick to praise the 24-year-old’s race. The two were seen chatting after the race, and Binotto said Leclerc was “once again unlucky.”

While Leclerc may have been disappointed with how the race panned out for him, he was quick to urge people to focus on Sainz’s first F1 victory. 

“I don’t want the focus to be pointed towards my disappointing race but more towards his incredible race win and obviously a first win in Formula 1 is always extremely special. It’s great for the team, is great for Carlos. He kept building confidence in the last few races and today he has shown it so obviously very happy for him.” 

Mick Schumacher. That’s it, that’s the tweet. 

If we’re being honest, Mick Schumacher’s Formula One career has not been an easy one. 

The 23-year-old hails from racing royalty, and since joining Haas F1 in 2021, the team ran near the back of the grid. Come this season, Schumacher missed the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and has recorded two DNFs, in Monaco and Montreal (the latter for engine troubles). But, coming into Silverstone, he had placed in the top 15 in five of the six races he’s finished. Comparatively, he finished in the top 15 in only four races last season, recording three DNFs in 22 competitions.

Coming off of a career-high sixth place F1 qualifying position, he faltered during the British Grand Prix qualifying, starting in 19th with his teammate at P17.

The pair gradually worked their way up the grid, and after a long few years, Haas F1 finally had a double-points finish as Schumacher finished in the top 10 for the first time in his Formula One career.   

“I’m very happy for the whole team to have scored double-points today. We deserved it – it wasn’t by luck – starting from P17 and P19 and ending eighth and tenth, we couldn’t have wished for more,” team boss Guenther Steiner said in the team release. “The cars were fast, the guys did a good job, the pit-stops were good, so what we need to do now is a very good qualifying and a very good race and then we’re back in the game.”

The thrilling career-best finish for the German not only featured a close battle with reigning world champion Max Verstappen but also overtaking a close friend—Sebastian Vettel. 

The Aston Martin driver said after the race, “I was actually screaming in the car, ‘Go, Mick!’”

The importance of the halo. 

Formula One introduced the halo in 2018, and it was a controversial move at first. 

Some felt it went against the spirit of single-seater racing while others were concerned it could cause visibility issues for drivers. But over time, people started supporting the cockpit protection, and Sunday’s Grand Prix showed how crucial the addition was after two wrecks in F2 and F1. 

Formula Two drivers Roy Nissany and Dennis Hauger had a massive collision earlier on Sunday, and the halo arguably saved Nissany’s life. Hauger’s car launched over the curb and went airborne, landing on top of his rival’s car. 

Miraculously, both drivers walked away unhurt thanks to the halo, which keeps debris and large objects from entering the cockpit. But, this wasn’t the worst incident racing fans would see at Silverstone. 

Later on Sunday, F1 drivers filed into formation on the grid, ready to tackle round 10. The lights went out, and Verstappen edged past Sainz for the lead. However, disaster soon struck and red flagged the race. 

Pierre Gasly was between Russell and Zhou, but as the gap started to disappear, the AlphaTauri driver pulled back. In the process, he made contact with the Mercedes, sending Russell into Zhou. 

The Afla Romeo flipped upside down and went skidding across the track and the gravel before barrel-rolling over the barriers. The catch fence in front of the grand stand is what stopped Zhou. 

The rookie and Williams driver Alex Albon, who was involved in a separate wreck, were both sent to the medical care center. While the Williams driver was sent to the hospital for “precautionary checks,” Zhou was later released from the medical center, tweeting that he was O.K. and credited the halo for saving him. 

Williams shared later Sunday afternoon that Albon was “given the all clear and has been discharged from Coventry Hospital.”

The halo also kept Leclerc from serious injury during the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix and later protected Romain Grosjean in his fiery crash at the ’20 Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Bonus Takeaway: George Russell being a human first. 

While Sainz’s maiden victory and the halo saving Zhou will understandably be some of the main headlines coming out of the British Grand Prix, it’s worth highlighting why Russell did not finish. 

The Mercedes driver could be seen looking to his left as Zhou went skidding across the track, and without hesitation, Russell jumped out of his car to run over to check on the Alfa Romeo driver. After barrel-rolling over the barrier, Zhou was stuck between the metal fence and tire barriers, a narrow gap with nowhere to go. 

Russell returned to his car but “couldn’t quite get the car started but I just wanted to check with my team.” He detailed that he told the marshals not to move it, but when he returned, “the car was already on the flatbed and they said we couldn’t restart.” 

The 24-year-old said there was not any “show-stopping” damage, per However, rules are rules, even when you’re being a human first instead of a competitor. 

“So apparently, as soon as you get assistance, you can’t restart,” he told Sky. “So it’s very frustrating because the car just had the puncture. And there’s no doubt we had the pace to come back to P6 today.”

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