The starting order of the British Grand Prix read Sainz leading from Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez and Hamilton in what seemed primed to be a closely-fought race between the Ferraris and the Bulls.
And while that did happen as Carlos Sainz did manage to absorb massive pressure from Verstappen first and Hamilton later, to win his maiden F1 race, it wasn’t before a wet and wild Silverstone unfurled a red flag session, heaps of incidents, and plenty of drama.
So what moments stood out and emerged the talking points from the 2022 British Grand Prix?
Zhou’s violent crash
Martin Brundle once said, when you’re a racing driver, it’s not about how you crash; but rather when you crash. Such is the life of a racer.
Perhaps nothing could be truer or more accurate in defining the fate of Zhou Ghanyu’s 2022 British Grand Prix.
The first ever driver from China to race in Formula 1 entered his maiden British Grand Prix from ninth in the grid. He’d certainly have hoped to collect some valuable points having just collected a career-best finish of P8 in the previous or most recent F1 race held at Canada.
But that wasn’t meant to be for right in the opening stages of the British Grand Prix, Zhou suffered a violent crash, his car careening into the catch fencing as a result of a rather unusual incident and thus, prompting an immediate retirement.
As Gasly’s car hit George Russell’s, and that too, right at the start, the Mercedes of Russell, in turn, contacted the Alfa Romeo of Zhou, which sent Zhou’s car into a violent spin of sorts, one that you’d not wish even for your worst enemy.
In the end, that Zhou walked back unscathed without there being any threat of a serious injury was great news for just about everybody.
A fine drive by local hero Lewis Hamilton
Whenever Lewis Hamilton comes to race at his home event, he’s spurred by the desire to do something spectacular and bold, much like his legendary racing career.
One saw pretty much that at the just concluded British Grand Prix, where Hamilton captured a vital third and thus, a third podium of the ongoing season.
At the start, Hamilton’s pace could hardly be doubted. This was clearly evident by the fact that by as early as lap 20, Hamilton was closing in on the Ferraris, his gap then to Leclerc and Sainz barely amounting to anything sizeable.
It would become evident that Mercedes were pegging Hamilton’s chances in the race on his marvelous experience and the strategic overcut.
He only pitted by lap 34 for a set of harder compounds with an intent to go all the way to the checkered flag; his stop, a touch slower, meant that the great Briton would come out behind Carlos Sainz in third.
In the end, with enough pace and steely resolve, the latter, a precious weapon in Lewis’s armory, meant that the crowd favourite had enough in his ebb to mount a podium challenge; he’d eventually drive past the checkered flag to gather a fighting third and thus, clinched what would turned out to be only his third podium finish of the season.
An incident-marred race for Russell also meant that Hamilton clinched the battle of the teammates at Mercedes.
Verstappen’s eventful race
Max started his British Grand Prix from second on the grid but was up into the race lead by the time the second lap was rendered complete.
But there was some drama to follow that would change the context of Verstappen’s race altogether.
By as early as lap 12, Verstappen, coasting in the lead, seemed in big trouble – it first looked like a puncture – and then, soon after, there appeared smoke billowing from under his car.
This wasn’t a good sign.
Resultantly, he’d be overtaken by Sainz, who couldn’t believe his luck in regaining the race lead having conceded it to the Dutchman despite bagging a first ever pole position of his career.
But the sight of Verstappen trundling into the pits was disconcerting to the Red Bull fans; he’d emerge sixth from there on but continued to fight.
That being said, the setback to Verstappen’s car meant that a large part of his British GP drive would thereafter only be about damage control.
And that’s all that there was to it; in the end, all that Max Verstappen could manage from what turned out to be another disappointing finish to his British Grand Prix was a seventh, which is when he began from P2.
Gasly with a race to forget
Pierre Gasly began his British GP from eleventh on the grid.
Alas, his hopes of going much better than his lackadaisical 2021 result were dashed to the ground thanks to a DNF that neither he nor his team saw coming in the 2022 contest.
Right at the beginning, disaster or very nearly, an incident that nearly comprised his race seconds from the race start stung Gasly. But, who could be blamed for it after all as the young French driver first struck the Mercedes of George Russell, who resultantly, clashed with the Alfa Romeo of Zhou Guanyu.
It wasn’t the start that Gasly or any of the three involved in the skirmish had hoped for.
Later as the race touched the halfway stage, Pierre Gasly race retired suffering from the compounded damage earned at the back of another unprecedented incident on lap 11.
Earlier on in the race, the two Alpha Tauris, with Yuki Tsunoda in the other, had stepped on each others’ toes, perhaps a desperate move that didn’t help either as both drivers tumbled down the order.
Gasly’ race, from that point on, did seem compromised anyway.
A DNF after the halfway stage would soon follow.
Alonso’s consistency vital again for Alpine
Perhaps it could be said that one of the most underrated- although vital- moments from the recently concluded British GP was Fernando Alonso’s brilliant race result.
And while it didn’t yield a podium, Alonso’s valiant P5, peppered by quintessential excellence in tire management on a track where most struggled for traction, wasn’t such a terrible result at all- was it?
Alonso, it ought to be remembered, entered the 2022 British GP at the back of performances like his twin P7 results earned at Monaco and Baku, which would be followed by a rather disappointing P9 at Canada. That’s when he had begun his Montreal run from second on the grid.
All that the experienced master of Formula 1 had been searching for was a top five finish on the grid, something that had eluded him all season along, which his when his strong drive at Silverstone turned it around.
Fernando Alonso, who famously won a brilliant 2011 race here at Silverstone, also outperformed his teammate in the 2022 run; Esteban Ocon gathered a fifteenth resulting from a DNF.