Carlos Sainz claimed his first Formula One victory in his 150th race on Sunday when he drove his Ferrari to a spectacular triumph in a furious and crash-hit British Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Spaniard, starting from his maiden pole position, resisted a charging Sergio Perez of Red Bull, who recovered from 17th, to take the flag by 3.7 seconds in front of a record 142,000 crowd at the high-speed Silverstone circuit.
Drawing on his fresher tyres in the closing stages, Hamilton resisted and passed Charles Leclerc in the second Ferrari, who finished fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris of McLaren.
Sebastian Vettel, who had started 18th on his birthday, and Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas completed the top 10.
Perez was also delighted. “It was a great comeback,” he said.
Hamilton paid tribute to the crowd, saying Silverstone was unmatched around the world for the scale and depth of enthusiasm demonstrated at the British event, which on Sunday provided stunning entertainment.
– Multi-car crash –
The start was marred by a massive high-speed multi-car collision, which saw Zhou Guanyu make a remarkable escape after his Alfa Romeo skidded upside down through a gravel trap.
“I’m ok, all clear. Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages!” he tweeted.
Three drivers were missing –- Zhou, Williams’ Alex Albon and George Russell of Mercedes –- as the lights went out and Sainz, in ferocious fighting mood, boldly resisted Verstappen to retain the lead.
In a frantic spell of action, Sainz ran off-track and across the grass at Becketts on lap 10, gifting Verstappen the initiative again, but two laps later the Dutchman slowed and pitted with a puncture.
Amid this drama, Hamilton closed on Leclerc before Sainz pitted from the lead, Leclerc taking over ahead of Hamilton with the Spaniard rejoining third ahead of Norris.
Behind him, Ferrari told their drivers they were “free to fight” as Leclerc chased second-placed Sainz, who was 18 seconds adrift of Hamilton, but warned that a swap was needed.
This left Hamilton 18.7 seconds ahead, before he pitted on lap 34, emerging third 3.4 seconds behind Sainz, but with tyres that were 13 laps fresher until a safety car intervention with 12 laps to go when Esteban Ocon’s Alpine came to a halt.
Perez muscled his way to second, Leclerc and Hamilton fought and both Alonso and Norris closed to within a second, setting up a furious finale.