Seven things we learned from a frantic British Grand Prix

Ferrari failed Leclerc in title fight, Zhou crash was reminder of Halo value and Hamilton showed he CAN win a race this season as Mercedes get their act together – seven things we learned from the British Grand Prix

  • REPORT: Carlos Sainz won a frantic British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday 
  • Ferrari housed the winner but were left defending strategy for Charles Leclerc 
  • Elsewhere, there were lots of reasons for Lewis Hamilton to feel optimistic 
  • Mick Schumacher ended his two-season wait for his first points in Formula One
  • Sportsmail picks out seven things we learned from events at Silverstone 

In the end the British Grand Prix was won by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz but it was a day full of storylines.  

There was the horror crash of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu six seconds into the race that caused a lengthy stoppage and a red flag, Williams’ Alex Albon going to a hospital in Coventry for precautionary checks, and George Russell’s first Silverstone appearance with Mercedes ended as a result of it all. 

Then there was the first points in Formula One for Mick Schumacher at Haas, plenty of smiles on the Mercedes pitwall and even Lando Norris enjoyed himself in what has largely been a season of woe for McLaren.  

Carlos Sainz won his first ever race in Formula One by winning the 2022 British Grand Prix

It was, to this point, the best race of the 2022 season and again highlighted just why permanent circuits, and not street circuit after street circuit brings out the best racing. 

All that and reigning champion Max Verstappen was a mere footnote in proceedings after floor damage hampered his race and he was stuck in the midfield, eventually finishing seventh, shaving his championship lead on team-mate Sergio Perez to 34 points.  

With all that in mind, Sportsmail picks out seven things we learned from a chaotic British Grand Prix at Silverstone… 

As Mattia Binotto tried his best Harry Houdini impression as he attempted to escape the criticism around Leclerc’s strategy, the Monegasque driver fumed not-so-privately. 

There they were, boss and employee, having a heated conversation back in the paddock as Leclerc looked for answers as to how his race, which saw him take the lead late on, was mismanaged to the point where he finished fourth. 

Make no mistake about it, Leclerc was a sitting duck. He was set up to fail.

When Esteban Ocon’s broken Alpine was unable to make it back to the pit-lane, a safety car was triggered with Leclerc out in front. 

In to the pits came team-mate Sainz and Hamilton, who were running second and third respectively. Onto the softs they went and all the while Leclerc was meandering round on 16-lap old hard tyres.

To the surprise of nobody Leclerc soon couldn’t compete for pace and past went Sainz, past went Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and past went Hamilton. No podium. Lots of questions.  

Charles Leclerc had good reason to be irritated with his strategists at Ferrari after Silverstone

‘What would they have done differently?’ Binotto snapped back to ESPN when asked about critics questioning Leclerc’s strategy.

‘I think the decision we took was the right one, the proper one, each single time. Should we have stopped at the Safety Car is maybe the only one we are questioning, I think.

‘If we would have stopped him, maybe the others would have stayed out and he would have maybe been fourth on soft tyres. On the other side, would he have been able to recover the position? Not sure.

‘I think obviously with hindsight it’s easy to say we could have done [something] differently. Again, we have a Safety Car at the wrong moment when we are leading the race comfortably.’

But whichever way Binotto wants to dice it, Leclerc was left exposed as a sitting duck on tyres he knew, and they knew, he could not compete with. 

With Verstappen slumped down in seventh, this was a huge chance to put a serious dent in the 49-point gap between him and the Red Bull driver in the title race. Instead Ferrari put their eggs in Sainz’s basket to help him land a first GP win and only time will tell how costly it proves to be for Leclerc in this strained title fight.  

Lewis Hamilton has reasons to smile as Mercedes look to have finally got their act together

Hamilton CAN win a race this season

Hamilton has never gone through a season in his exemplary career and failed to win a single Grand Prix. It just hasn’t happened. 

But when he was seen bowing out in Q1 in Saudi Arabia and finishing 13th at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, questions were always going to swirl if a winless season was no inevitable with Mercedes way off their competition. 

Barcelona a few weeks ago felt like a real turning point for Mercedes and this was another here. 

For perhaps the first time this season you could credibly say that they were in contention to win this race. It’s taken time but Mercedes finally look to have got their act together with this 2022 car.  

‘Definitely, for a while it was feeling on,’ Hamilton, who finished third, said. 

‘A bunch of things went against us. The start, we got up to third and then they put us back to fifth. Then I lost ground to Lando, so I spent a bunch of laps trying to get past him.

‘Then the gap was five or six seconds to the Ferraris. But I was doing good time, catching them up, I did a good long stint and thought ‘yes, maybe we can fight for a win here’.’

Mercedes made necessary upgrades to their W13 car and while there is ‘work to do’ to keep Red Bull and Ferrari off top spot, Hamilton could not escape the ‘big improvement’ everyone is now seeing from the Silver Arrows. 

That record eighth world championship almost certainly won’t arrive this season but the dark cloud that has hovered over Mercedes looks to be moving along.  

The Briton looked set to go a whole season without a win but now it seems he can compete

Lift off at last for Schumacher 

At last!

If Mercedes felt there was a black cloud over their head then spare a thought for Mick Schumacher.

Time and again he thought he was on for his first world championship points in Formula One, only for a cruel twist of fate to cost him and he’d go home empty handed. 

But Silverstone will now always hold a special place in Schumacher’s heart. 

The son of seven-time champion Michael finished eighth and for a moment he was even taking the fight to Verstappen in seventh. His heart must have been pounding when they went side by side.  

‘Finally! I told you guys this is the weekend. Oh my God!’ Schumacher yelled on team radio at the finish. 

‘You guys are brilliant. You guys are brilliant, man. F**king hell! You guys are f**king brilliant! F**king… excuse my swearing.’

It’s been a long time coming for Schumacher, now into his second season with Haas, and so we can forgive the swearing.  

Mick Schumacher’s wait for his first points in Formula One finally came to an end at Silverstone

Problems piling up for Ricciardo

A familiar story these days. Norris thrives and Ricciardo does not. 

Of the opening 10 races this season, only twice has Ricciardo finished in the top 10. Compare that to seven top 10 finished by Norris. The gulf between them is baffling. 

When retirements are factored in, Ricciardo left Silverstone having finished 13th in a race with 14 finishing cars. His form is horrible and will be causing alarm at McLaren’s HQ. 

A failure of his Drag Reduction System (DRS) on lap 31, taking away his power boost in order to overtake in the two straights with DRS zones, compromised his race, unquestionably, but even so, Norris and Ricciardo are channeling in opposite directions. 

‘For our race, the car just didn’t really seem to operate at the same level of grip as the others. I could just feel it through the tyres as well, trying to carry speed,’ Ricciardo told reporters.

‘It was just a bit odd, so we have a bit of investigating to do. Then we had an issue with DRS which meant I couldn’t use it after lap 31 which was also a bit of a shame.

‘Obviously, it’s tough to overtake with that as well – but simply we weren’t really quick enough anyway today. It was a bit of a lonely afternoon.’

Since team boss Zak Brown publicly put Ricciardo on notice by saying in Monaco that ‘we’re not getting the results we hoped for’ all eyes have been on the Honey Badger. Only, so far, he’s starving for success. 

Problems are piling up for Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren after another frustrating afternoon

Timely reminder of Halo’s value 

‘I’m ok, all clear,’ Zhou tweeted. ‘Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages!’ 

It was a pertinent reminder from the man in the middle of it all just how vital the Halo device, which is a plastic structure fitted around the cockpit, is in protecting F1 drivers. 

The Chinese rookie driver was clattered into by Mercedes’ George Russell, flipping his car over before it flipped over the tyre wall and into the trackside fencing. 

The halo played its key role in protecting Zhou from what could have been fatal damage in what was a horror crash that shook up many of the Alfa Romeo driver’s peers. 

Halo was criticised by some when it was introduced but now there is no view of a future without it. 

Hamilton last year wvas counting his blessings in Italy when a collision with Verstappen saw the Dutchman’s car mount his, with one of the tyres on the Red Bull car perilously close to the Mercedes man’s head. 

In stepped the halo and again it did its job. 

Zhou’s crash was both a reminder of the dangers of Formula One racing but also a reminder on how safety has taken huge strides forward. As winner Sainz said, it is ‘saving lives’.  

Zhou Guanyu reassured his Twitter followers after his terrifying crash early on in the race

The blockbuster race was delayed by 53 minutes after the horror crash from the race start

Zhou’s car flipped before being caught between the tyre wall and the fence at Silverstone 

Aston Martin’s perplexing backwards step

You could cut the tension down at Aston Martin with a knife after qualifying on Saturday.

‘Today we were, in all honesty, we’re just slow and we need to see why and understand it because there was something that we were missing,’ moaned Sebastian Vettel. 

Vettel was slumped in 18th while his team-mate Lance Stroll was plum last. 

Fast forward to end of play on Sunday and Vettel has a points finish, only adding to the confusion about why the car is performing so wildly to extremes. 

‘There’s a lot of work to do,’ Vettel told Channel 4. ‘I think the team is coming together and results like today mean so much to us.

‘I drove a really good race and crossed the line and it’s ninth, but it’s really important for us because there’s so much work going in and I think it’s going in the right direction, but it does take time.

‘I think it’s a bit confusing still at this point to be very honest, because we had some new parts.’

It’s a long old season ahead for Vettel and Stroll you fear. 

Aston Martin need to make serious strides as their drivers question their gap in performance

Silverstone proves street circuits cannot compete 

Heading to Silverstone six of the nine races this season had been held on street circuits. 

Silverstone marked the first of seven races in a row held in the heart of the European season at purpose built race tracks. As a result we were served up a classic.

There is nostalgia that comes with permanent tracks, reminders of famous incidents in years gone by, and street circuits often limit the drama. 

Not always, granted, but it was no real surprise that the race of the year so far came at the permanent residence of the British Grand Prix.  

More historical tracks and less reshaped street circuits, please.  

Silverstone served up a classic that street races prior just cannot go on to compete with

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