Carlos Sainz stressed that his first Formula One victory is a day he will never forget after he triumphed at Silverstone.
In a hugely eventful race, Sainz fought his way past Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in a brilliant 10-lap shootout to the chequered flag following a safety car period.
Sainz told Sky Sports: ‘I don’t know what to say. It’s amazing. First race win, 150 races later, with Ferrari, in Silverstone, I cannot ask for more.
Carlos Sainz says he will never forget his first Grand Prix success after winning at Silverstone
‘It is a day I will never forget. A very special weekend in general. I am very happy. Lewis was on it I’ve heard but we were able to stay on it.
‘I struggled with the balance, it was not easy. But I stayed believing it could still happen. I needed to stay in the race and the safety car came in and we did it.
‘I had nerves during the safety card restart, I needed to get it done.
‘Silverstone is a special place for me. My very first race win in Formula 3 and 12 years later I get the same result in Formula One. It’s a special result for me.’
Lewis Hamilton finished third and insisted that the podium finish is a ‘huge bonus’ for Mercedes.
After claiming his second podium in as many races, Hamilton said: ‘I have to give it up to this crowd. Thank you everybody for the incredible support. We do not see this around the world. This is the greatest group we get so I am so grateful for that.
Lewis Hamilton finished third and said the podium finish is a ‘huge bonus’ for Mercedes
‘I gave it everything today and I was trying to chase down those Ferraris but they were just too quick today for us and at the end I was in the battle with Perez but those guys were just too quick for us on the straights.
‘We lost a little bit of time in the pit stop and I was chasing and chasing. But this is a huge bonus for us to be on the podium and I am glad everyone was safe at the beginning with that huge crash.’
Sergio Perez finished second, with Hamilton third after he forced his way around Leclerc with four laps of the 52 laps remaining.
Sainz, Perez and Hamilton all took on fresh tyres ahead of the safety car re-start, but Ferrari left Leclerc out on old rubber and the championship challenger was left in no man’s land, dropping from first to fourth, and dealing his title hopes a blow on a day where Max Verstappen limped home in seventh after he sustained damage.
A record crowd of 142,000 fans in Northamptonshire were treated to the race of the season which started in extraordinary fashion.
Zhou Guanyu miraculously survived after he was involved in a horror crash in the opening lap
Rookie Zhou Guanyu was approaching the 160mph opening Abbey corner when British driver George Russell tagged the right rear of the Chinese driver’s machine, sending him on to his roof and sliding out of control.
Upside down, Zhou continued through the gravel at high speed with sparks flying before he slammed into the tyre barrier and was launched into the fencing. Fans and photographers ducked for cover with Zhou’s Alfa Romeo lodged on its side, between the tyre wall and the fencing.
An extraction team rushed to Zhou and the 23-year-old, in just his 10th race, was carefully removed and taken away in an ambulance to the medical centre before being discharged.
Russell was also seen dashing to check on his friend, the Williams driver Alex Albon, who was caught up in the accident, and then Zhou’s condition.
‘I’m glad to see Zhou okay. It was an horrific incident,’ Russell told Sky Sports.
The Mercedes driver, who was not permitted to restart the race, added: ‘I jumped out of the car to see that Zhou was OK. When I got back to car I couldn’t restart it. As soon as you get outside assistance you cannot restart the race.’
Mercedes’ George Russell, who was involved in the incident, stated that it was ‘horrific’
Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were also involved in the frenetic first moments of Sunday’s race, with both drivers limping back to the pits for repairs and able to take part when the race resumed following a delay of almost an hour.
A radio message to Zhou’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas said: ‘Zhou is conscious. He is talking. There are no fractures and, considering the circumstances, he is pretty good, pretty well.’
London-born Albon was helicoptered to hospital for precautionary checks.
The race was immediately red-flagged, but as the cars made their way back to the pits, five protestors stormed the circuit at the 200mph Wellington Straight before sitting down on the track.
The protestors were dragged away by marshals as a number of drivers sped by.
An FIA spokesperson said: ‘We confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track. These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.’
Following a delay of 53 minutes the race restarted.
Sainz found himself under significant pressure but he managed to hold on to secure glory
On lap 10, Verstappen, hot on Sainz’s tail, moved into the lead after the Spaniard ran off the track through Becketts. But two laps later, Verstappen was in the pits with a puncture after he appeared to run over debris.
Sainz was soon under pressure from Leclerc, and after toing-and-froing with the pit wall, team principal Mattia Binotto gave the order for the scarlet cars to swap position.
Suddenly, a fast-charging Hamilton was in the mix, and, after the first round of pit stops, he was just six seconds off the lead.
Then, Ocon broke down in his Alpine and the safety car was deployed with a dozen laps to go. Leclerc stayed out – a decision Ferrari might come to regret – with Sainz, Hamilton and Perez all stopping.
The race re-started on lap 43 and Sainz made short work of getting past Leclerc with Perez and Hamilton eventually following suit after a number of spellbinding laps.
Fernando Alonso took fifth, one spot ahead of Lando Norris with Verstappen holding off Mick Schumacher on the line to take seventh.