Carlos Sainz was able to finally collect his second Formula 1 victory in dramatic fashion, in spite of what the box score said.
The Spaniard started on pole and led every lap, just barely holding off the McLaren of Lando Norris and the Mercedes drivers in the closing laps.
“It was all about, given our limitations with tire degradation, all about managing the beginning of the stints.,” Sainz said in the podium interviews. “[I had to] make sure we hit our target laps at the beginning of each compound. Obviously the safety car forced us to pit earlier then we wanted and I knew it would be a long stint on [the] hard [compound].
“I had to keep George [Russell] slowed down so that he couldn’t take advantage with a safety car or medium tire opportunity, and it worked. It was quite tight at the end, but we gave Lando some DRS to help him and at the end, P1.”
Esteban Ocon stalled out in turn 6 with a gearbox issue on lap 43. The Alpine driver was sixth at the time. The virtual safety car came out, and the Mercedes drivers decided to pit for medium tires.
This gave Russell and Lewis Hamilton plenty of room to make gains on the top three with much fresher tires, giving them the tire edge when Russell eventually caught up.
However, Russell couldn’t make the pass on Norris when the Mercedes pair caught back up on lap 57, then slammed into the wall in turn 10 making one last grasp on the final lap. Hamilton avoided his teammate and took the final step on the podium, as Norris finished second. Russell did not finish the race and was scored 16th on the day.
Sergio Perez made a recovery drive to finish eighth after Red Bull’s bad weekend. Liam Lawson was able to score points in just his third F1 race with a ninth. Kevin Magnussen ended up taking the last point of the race in tenth for Haas after Russell’s last lap wreck.
On lap 20, Logan Sargeant couldn’t make turn 8 and drove into the barrier, knocking his front wing off the front. The American then drove the car back to the pits with the front wing dragging on the side. This brought out a safety car.
With only 42 laps remaining in the race, a fresh set of hard tires could finish the race from there. This forced all the leaders to pit, with the exception of the Red Bulls, as they had started the race on hard tires.
Once the Bulls were disbursed on the restart, it became a four horse race until the final VSC, with the top four running about two and a half seconds within each other for much of the race.
Yuki Tsunoda had a major puncture after contact with Perez and parked his AlphaTauri behind the wall in the turn 14 run-off on the very first lap. It has been a very rough stretch for the Japanese driver, as he did not finish the formation lap a couple of weeks ago at Monza before the car failed there.
After his violent wreck in qualifying yesterday, Lance Stroll did not start the race due to soreness in a joint decision between driver and team. As there were no extra drivers to participate in a practice session this weekend, Aston Martin could not replace Stroll on the grid and only started Fernando Alonso in the race.
Round 15 of the 2023 Formula 1 season will be the Japanese Grand Prix, around the Suzuka Circuit. Lights out will be at 1 a.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 24, on ESPN2.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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