The British Grand Prix qualifying session was disrupted by rain, offering a merciless battle between Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. But the race could take place in the dry, and the physiognomy could be different.
We have seen Mercedes F1 much closer to the two top teams during free practice, and the British GP could mark the return to the forefront of the reigning world champion team.
The challenge of the race will be above all strategic, with two stops planned by Pirelli and tire degradation which is often very high on the British track. Reliability will also be crucial, especially on the side of Ferrari, which no longer has the right to make mistakes.
Behind, the fight between McLaren, Alpine F1 and Alfa Romeo will continue, since Lando Norris, Fernando Alonso and Guanyu Zhou qualified in the top 10. Nicholas Latifi made a surprise appearance there but the start of the race should be complicated for the Canadian.
3:45 p.m.: A shower fell on the circuit less than an hour before the race, but the track was perfectly dry a few minutes before the start. On the other hand, the clouds revolve around the circuit, just like the showers.
3:50 p.m.: A small alert seems to have occurred on the Ferrari of Leclerc, but the Monegasque settles in his car normally.
3:55 p.m.: The chance of rain seems to be receding, as Peter Bonnington told Hamilton over the radio: “Nothing on the radar, it should stay that way.”
3:58 p.m.: Many different strategies at the start! Verstappen, Latifi, Albon, Magnussen and Vettel shod on soft tyres. Russell is the only one on hard tyres, while all the others, including Sainz and Leclerc around Verstappen, are on mediums.
Departure : Sainz misses his start and Verstappen takes the lead while Hamilton overtakes Leclerc, but there is a huge accident behind and Zhou’s Alfa Romeo rolls over even before the first corner!
Round 1: Russell also gives up, and Albon is involved as well. Tsunoda is also involved with damage, like Ocon.
Round 2: The red flag is obviously raised. Russell retired, as did Albon, while Tsunoda and Ocon returned to the pits with a badly damaged car. The Frenchman is expected to retire, while Zhou is still in his car.
4:16 p.m.: It remains unclear how Zhou is doing as the extraction team needed to intervene between the tires and the wire mesh to extract the Chinese driver.
4:18 p.m.: Zhou was dragged out of his car and taken to the medical center by ambulance. Replays showed that Russell fell back on Gasly, and the two men touched, sending the Mercedes into Zhou’s Alfa Romeo. The latter was sent in rolls, slid several hundred meters with the head down, and took off in the gravel to land behind the tires.
4:22 p.m.: Zhou is conscious and talking, and appears to have no injuries. Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder confirmed this.
The extremely impressive images of Guanyu Zhou’s crash at the start of the #BritishGP
— CANAL+ F1® (@CanalplusF1) July 3, 2022
4:30 p.m.: The replay shows that behind, Albon crushed to avoid the accident, and was hit in the back by Vettel. After a big impact against the pit wall, he hit Ocon quite violently.
4:33 p.m.: The starting grid will be similar to the first start, and Sainz will be well in pole position ahead of Verstappen.
4:34 p.m.: Police made arrests at the circuit as protesters tried to approach the track on the first lap.
4:37 p.m.: Latifi will start eighth since Russell and Zhou will not be present for the second start. Gasly and Bottas will be in the top 10, and they will normally be 17th on the grid, Alpine having managed to repair Ocon’s car.
4:43 p.m.: Race management continues to repair the circuit, and the cars have been restarted.
4:47 p.m.: The race will start again at 4:56 p.m. French time.
4:53 p.m.: Here is the sequence showing that demonstrators tried to invade the track at the start of the race. Fortunately, in a sense, there was a red flag, because the tragedy could have occurred there if a single-seater had left the track.
— CANAL+ F1® (@CanalplusF1) July 3, 2022
4:56 p.m.: The race is restarted behind the safety car, and a standing start will be given ! Verstappen opted to take over the mids, although the softs allowed him to take the lead initially.
Second start: Verstappen and Sainz are side by side in the first corner and Sainz manages to keep the lead! Pérez takes third place.
Round 3: Leclerc manages to pass Pérez and tries to attack Verstappen, but he has to bow. Pérez’s wing is damaged after a touchdown. Norris, Hamilton, Gasly, Alonso, Tsunoda and Ocon complete the top 10.
Round 4: Sainz drives faster than Verstappen and has a 1.2 lead, while Leclerc is also 1.2 behind the Red Bull. Pérez loses a lot of time with his damaged wing and sees Norris and Hamilton glue it back on.
Round 5: Sainz set the fastest lap in the race in 1’33.437 and increased his lead to 1.4. Leclerc is behind, and Pérez loses a second on the lap on Leclerc, and two seconds on Sainz, because of his wing. Pérez returns to the pits at the end of the lap!
Round 6: Leclerc also lost a piece of his car, but has no problem staying on track. Pérez last spring on medium tyres. Hamilton overtakes Norris and grabs fourth place. This second start of the race is calmer than the first, of which you can find all the photos in our special gallery.
Round 7: The gap between Sainz and Verstappen is back under a second, while Leclerc is 1.7 behind Verstappen. Hamilton is 5.3 behind the Monegasque and has already pushed Norris back to almost 2 seconds. Latifi has returned to the top 10 thanks to the stoppage of eBottas, and he resists Bottas and Ricciardo by riding in the rhythm of Gasly, Tsunoda and Ocon.
Round 8: Verstappen takes advantage of the DRS to lap faster than Sainz, even if he doesn’t beat the fastest lap in the race. The gap is 7 tenths between the two men, while Leclerc follows the duo at a distance, maintaining 1.6 behind.
Round 9: The FIA confirms that Zhou and Albon have no serious injuries. The Alfa Romeo F1 driver remains under observation at the medical centre, and the Williams driver is therefore in hospital, but their condition does not cause any concern.
Round 10: Thanks to the DRS, Verstappen manages to come back to within half a second of Sainz, and he could attack the Spaniard in the next loops. Sainz confirms to his team that the Red Bull is “faster”. And we must not wait for the end of the 10th lap, Sainz making a mistake in the sequence Maggots / Becketts / Chapel. Verstappen takes the lead!
Round 11: It was Hamilton who took the fastest lap in the race in 1’33″338, while in front, Leclerc was in the wake of Sainz. The instructions mentioned by the Monegasque this Saturday could come faster than expected. Behind, Tsunoda attacked Gasly and spun, taking his teammate with him!
Round 12: Leclerc is in the wake of Sainz, but the latter comes back on Verstappen who has a puncture after having rolled on a piece of carbon! He was lucky enough to suffer it shortly before the pits and returned to change his tyres.
Round 13: Sainz and Leclerc are in the lead, ahead of Hamilton, Norris and Alonso. Verstappen comes out sixth, with a totally offbeat strategy.
Round 14: Leclerc set the fastest lap in the race in 1:33.204, but Sainz drives fast in front of him, Ferrari does not give instructions. Verstappen complains of persistent problems after his pit stop. Verstappen says the car is “100% fine! And indeed, it runs slower than Norris and Alonso.
Round 15: Leclerc is in the wake of Sainz! The gap even falls to 2 tenths thanks to the DRS. Verstappen complains of losing the car, with damage to the bonnet. The team explains to him that he is losing aero points at the back, but that he cannot do anything. He is assured on the radio that he is not taking any risks. He can continue until the next stop. Tsunoda receives a 5 second penalty for taking out Gasly.
Round 16: Hamilton set the fastest lap in the race in 1’33″0, while Leclerc seems to be stuck behind Sainz. Hamilton takes half a second from them on the lap.
Round 17: Hamilton sets another fastest lap in the race in 1’32″973. Leclerc is annoyed by the lack of instructions: “What should I do? I’m screwing up my race.”
Round 18: Leclerc again asks Ferrari to act, because despite his damaged front wing, he turns faster than his teammate.
Round 19: Hamilton improves on his best lap in the race to 1’32.920. He is 3.5 behind Leclerc and 4.1 behind Sainz. Ferrari asks Sainz to continue to attack, but the Spaniard seems to be at his maximum.
Round 20: Leclerc set the fastest lap in 1’32″757, immediately beaten by Hamilton in 1’32″592. Ferrari is making a huge strategic mistake, as Leclerc is 49 points behind Verstappen in the championship, and could take more than 15 from Verstappen. Sainz’s engineer tells him to attack, and the pilot asks him not to talk to him anymore. Sainz stops at the end of the round.
Round 21: The Spaniard came out third on hard tyres, just ahead of Norris. He is far from Hamilton, who is now 2″7 behind Leclerc! Bottas returns to the pits to retire, apparently the victim of a mechanical problem. Latifi pitted after an excellent first stint which saw him run into Ocon’s rhythm.
Round 23: Hamilton sets a new fastest lap in the race in 1’32″435, and the gap is two seconds with Leclerc! Ocon and Magnussen stop in turn. Verstappen and Pérez are sixth and seventh, the Mexican driving almost 2 seconds faster each lap than his teammate.