At his 150th attempt, Carlos Sainz is a winner in Formula 1, first past the chequered flag in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in his F1-75. For Scuderia Ferrari it’s the third victory of the season and its 241st overall. Carlos is thus the 40th driver to win for Ferrari, the second Spaniard after Fernando Alonso. He brings the total number of drivers who have won a world championship Grand Prix to 112. It has been an almost perfect weekend for Sainz, after he took pole yesterday. Charles Leclerc drove an aggressive race, featuring several duels on his way to a fourth place finish. A Safety Car a few laps from the end, after Esteban Ocon stopped on track, did not work in his favour.
Closing laps. When Ocon stopped on track and the Safety Car came out, Charles was leading, ahead of Carlos and Lewis Hamilton. At this point, the team pitted Sainz, leaving Leclerc in the lead on fresher tyres, believing that the Soft tyres of the competitors would probably degrade quite quickly. At the restart, Charles struggled to get his tyres back up to temperature and was passed by his team-mate, as well as by Sergio Perez and Hamilton. He thus had to settle for the 12 points for fourth place.
On to Austria. Scuderia Ferrari leaves the UK having made up points on its rivals in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships, with both Carlos and Charles. Now it’s time to prepare for the next race, a week today, at the Spielberg track in Austria.
Carlos Sainz #55
What a day! Winning my first F1 GP and with Scuderia Ferrari in front of this amazing crowd, at one of my favorite tracks, Silverstone, is literally amazing.
Mentally it was one of the toughest races I’ve done: managing the gaps, lots of fights on track, the second start. We struggled a bit with understeer and on the second stint we had to save fuel in order to make it to the end, so the lift-and-coast put me at risk from the cars behind.
However, as soon as the Safety Car came out, we knew it was paramount to change the tyres as mine were pretty old. At the restart, I had fresher tyres but we were fighting for a 1-2 as a team, so I tried to be as clean as possible in overtaking Charles. Thanks to the fuel saved behind the Safety Car we could then push until the end and finally I got my first win. I will enjoy it for today but we’ll immediately start working on preparing for the next one.
Charles Leclerc #16
I didn’t finish where I wanted to, so it was a frustrating race for me. There were times when I really had to be on the limit to keep my position, fighting with others who were on Softs which was not easy at the end. It’s a shame not to bring home more points for our team today, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
No matter how disappointed I am, it should not take away from what is an amazing first win for Carlos. It’s a moment he will never forget, a dream come true for every driver and I hope that he enjoys it!
Mattia Binotto Team Principal & Managing Director
To get back to winning, especially at such a demanding track as Silverstone, is particularly pleasing and confirms that we have worked well this season, both at the track and back in Maranello. Carlos had a great weekend, in which he also secured his first pole position. He was strong and consistent throughout and the win was richly deserved.
On the other hand, it’s a shame we scored fewer points than we could have done with Charles who, when the Safety Car came out, was comfortably in the lead. Pitting Charles at that moment, which would have put him behind Hamilton, who at that point would have stayed out on fresh Hard tyres, did not seem the right choice, so we therefore decided to leave him out on track. Unfortunately, at the restart, he was at a disadvantage in terms of tyres. We also want to congratulate Mick Schumacher on scoring his first championship points. They are well deserved.
Finally, it’s worth underlining once again the efforts of the FIA and Formula 1 in terms of safety. The fact that no drivers involved in the accidents at the start suffered any serious injury confirms just how effective are the current safety measures.
Mattia, how well did you sleep last night?
As the race was delayed, we came back home quite late, so I didn’t get a lot of sleep, but it felt good this morning. A Ferrari win on one of the most iconic race tracks is something very special.
On Sunday morning you had a little celebration for Carlos for his 150th Grand Prix, in the afternoon he won his first race. With a little distance, how do you feel about his performance in Silverstone?
My feelings haven’t changed since yesterday, I’m very pleased with Carlos’ performance, not only in the race, but throughout the weekend. His confidence is growing steadily and he handles difficult conditions well. His first win was only a question of time, we’ve known this from the start and, it was not only fantastic for him, but also great for us as a team to see him on the top step of the podium.
Even if Charles was happy for Carlos and celebrated with the team, it was clear that he was frustrated. Can you understand his disappointment?
For sure I can understand his frustration. When you’re comfortably leading a race with just a few laps to go and you don’t win, then it’s natural to feel disappointment. But Charles’ disappointment is also our disappointment – we win together and we lose together. We’re as frustrated as he is about his result, because the way he drove yesterday was amazing and showcased once again how strong a driver he is. Charles thoroughly deserved to win the race, if it wouldn’t have been for the safety car.
A lot of questions popped up and led to misperceptions after the race. One question being, why Ferrari didn’t ask Carlos to give up his position to Charles during the first stint already?
The answer is quite simple: it was not necessary to do it at that point and there was still a lot of time to make that decision. Our priority is always to maximise the situation in order for the best team result. Only when this goal is under threat do we need to act. We did this during the second stint and swapped cars when Carlos was not fast enough and our opponents were catching us.
The safety car caused a lot of controversy: why did we pit Carlos but not Charles?
At this moment it was common sense to prioritise the lead car by protecting track positions. There’s nothing unusual in this strategy, we always prioritise the lead car and therefore Charles in this situation. He was on fresher tyres at that point, and if he had pitted, our opponents would have done the exact opposite and gained track position on almost new hard tyres. Just think of Lewis Hamilton at last year’s season finale in Abu Dhabi when he stayed out on track.
At the same time we decided to put Carlos on the opposite strategy in order to cover all opportunities. If we wouldn’t have done that split strategy, we would have risked losing the race and handing the win to our opponents.
Why didn’t Carlos accept to give Charles ten cars length distance at the safety car restart? Was he ignoring team orders?
Absolutely not, Carlos wasn’t ignoring the team – he made it clear to us that he had to protect himself against the pressure from behind and in doing so, he was protecting our goal to stay ahead. As a team we fully appreciate this and we were all aligned. Without this insider information I can see how this could be perceived as Carlos not being a team player. But a few laps before he swapped positions without any hesitation or complaints, clearly demonstrating that he puts the team first.
So what’s next?
There are three more challenging races coming up before the summer break, and as Silverstone showed again, each race this year is absolutely unpredictable. We will make sure that we have our cars ready for the challenge and present ourselves as a strong team and a strong unit.