British Grand Prix – After getting his first F1 pole on Saturday, Carlos Sainz finished off the weekend in the best possible way – with his first win.
While Sainz’ first time leading from pole didn’t go as planned, with Max Verstappen demoting him to P2 by the first corner, he was given the chance for a re-do almost an hour later after the race was restarted in qualifying order following the extended Red Flag period while these involved in the race start incidents were seen to and the cars cleared.
The second time around Sainz had a much more successful start, holding onto his lead and even pulling a gap for a few laps before Verstappen reeled him in. And while he didn’t fall out of the podium positions at any point during the race, the Ferrari driver did look to have lost his chance of victory until the Safety Car appeared late in the race allowing Sainz to swap to new tyres and pass his teammate for the lead at the restart.
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“I don’t know what to say,” Sainz said post-race. “It’s amazing…Silverstone has been a bit of a special place for me. First ever race win here in Formula BMW, back in 2010. First pole position here, back in 2000. And then suddenly, 12 years later I achieved exactly the same but in Formula 1 with Ferrari…It’s a very special day, a day that I will never forget. A very special weekend in general.
“It was probably, mentally, one of the toughest races, because there was so much going on on the radio, trying to manage both the gap to Charles and Lewis and at the beginning with Max there was a lot of fighting going on. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the car.
“I was struggling a lot with understeer in the high-speed corners, opening a lot the front left tyre and this was taking me out a lot of pace, but I kept it cool, kept believing, kept within reach all the time. And suddenly when the opportunity came, I grabbed it and it happened.”
That opportunity was when the Safety Car was brought out to deal with Esteban Ocon’s Alpine which had ground to a halt on the old pit straight. Sainz was able to duck into the pits and swap to a set of soft tyres which gave him the opportunity to get ahead of Charles Leclerc, who was still on old tyres, and then pull a gap as he did after the second standing start.
“I knew as soon as the Safety Car came out that it was a great chance to put a soft tyre for me, because I had been on those hards for longer. It was not a tyre that was giving me great feeling and pace. I took the opportunity and from then on I knew passing Charles was going to be pretty easy at the re-start. I was 100% sure that the opportunity was there.
“I just wanted to do it in the cleanest way possible without affecting his own race because I knew behind me they were coming a lot of guys on softs to attack him you know. I tried my best to not affect him and I think he did a great job also to finish fourth.”
What an incredible restart!
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While the fact that he had finally managed to achieve his first F1 victory hadn’t fully registered by the post-race press conference, Sainz doesn’t have too much time process and celebrate as the Austrian Grand Prix is coming up in a few days time, though the Spaniard is hoping that he will be able to fight for more pole and victories from now on.
“You can imagine the nerves on that Safety Car restart knowing it was my chance and getting it done and then the win…It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, I think, because I’m very happy, but I’m waiting for the minutes to go by and to realise what has actually happened today, you know. It wasn’t easy at all but it came and I kept fighting for it. And it was about to come one day sooner than later and today was the day.
“Maybe today I was lacking a bit of front end, but I hope that for Austria we can fine tune it and maybe we can actually fight for that win again and do some good pole positions in the dry and win it in the dry again.”