A beaming Carlos Sainz claimed his first Formula One victory in a spectacular triumph in the British Grand Prix on Sunday but his Ferrari team were still left facing questions.
The 27-year-old Spaniard, starting from his maiden pole position on his 150th race, resisted a late-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.
Sainz’s victory ended Red Bull’s run of six consecutive victories.
But after another frustrating afternoon for Charles Leclerc, who finished fourth, there were still questions about Ferrari’s tactics and race management on a day when a one-two finish appeared to be in sight.
Sainz, who spent his early racing career in England, was delighted to gain his maiden F1 win at the high-speed Silverstone circuit where he secured his first victory as a teenager.
“Silverstone is a special place for me,” said Sainz.
“My very first race win in Formula Three was here and now 12 years later I get the same result in Formula One! It’s a special result here for me.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s amazing. My first F1 win, 150 races later, with Ferrari and in Silverstone. I just cannot ask for more.
“It’s a very special day. I am very, very happy. Lewis (Hamilton) was on it, I’ve heard, but we were able to stay on it
“I struggled with the balance. It wasn’t easy, but I stayed believing it could still happen and I needed to stay in the race – and the Safety Car came and I did it.
“It wasn’t easy! I had nerves during the Safety Car re-start. I needed to get it done.”
After a run of disappointing results, Ferrari had arrived at Silverstone badly needing to win to re-boot their championship challenges after leading earlier in the season.
Twice in recent races, they had seen Leclerc retire from the lead with engine failures, another victory lost due to a bungled strategy decision and a further opportunity lost by starting at the back of the grid due to an engine-related grid penalty.
For Leclerc, it was a critical weekend and, once again, he was disappointed as he was unable to capitalise on series leader and world champion Max Verstappen having problems and finishing only seventh.
“I gave my absolute best,” he said. “But it wasn’t enough and it is obviously disappointing.
“At the end of the race, it was very nice to be racing so close, but on the other hand I had ‘hards’ and everyone else was on ‘softs’.
“After the race, Mattia (Binotto, Ferrari team chief) wanted to cheer me up and we had a chat. That’s it. Nothing else.
“We have to look at the global picture. From my side, I only have my race and I feel like I lost so much time – it is only my view, but I haven’t seen the full picture.
“I don’t want the focus to be pointed to my disappointing race. For my team-mate to win his first race in F1 is very special.”
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