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Carlos Sainz earns first Formula One win; Zhou Guanyu safe after scary crash

Carlos Sainz celebrates his win at the British Grand Prix. (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz won a Formula One race for the first time in 150 starts Sunday, taking a British Grand Prix that featured a scary crash on the first lap and a wild finish at the end.

“Yes! We did it! Yes! ¡Vamos!” the 27-year-old driver shouted over the radio after he crossed the finish line.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was 3.779 seconds behind Sainz on the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, England. Lewis Hamilton, driving for Mercedes, finished third, taking a spot on the British Grand Prix podium for the 13th time in his storied career.

Fifteen seconds into the race, the Alfa Romeo driven by rookie Zhou Guanyu was involved in a Turn 1 collision that sent it flying upside down across the gravel and landing in a heap by the catch fence. A red flag slowed the race as workers extricated Zhou, who later was cleared by medical personnel and credited the car’s halo — essentially a roll bar — with saving him.

“There are no fractures,” his team said. “Considering the circumstances, he’s pretty well.” Zhou was evaluated and released from the circuit’s medical center.

Sharing a smiling photo, Zhou offered an update on Twitter. “I’m okay, all clear. Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages!”

Zhou’s car skidded across the gravel and flipped over the catch fence, finishing upside down after a collision involving, among others, Mercedes’s George Russell, who left his car immediately and sprinted to Zhou’s car. Zhou eventually was taken from the course on a stretcher in an ambulance.

Russell, who received mechanical assistance after the crash, was also out of the race.

“First of all, the most important thing is that Zhou is okay,” Russell tweeted. “That was a scary incident and all credit to the marshals and medical team for their quick response. Obviously gutted to end the race this way and I’m sorry for the team and the fans. Cheering [teammate Lewis Hamilton] on from the garage.”

Williams’s Alex Albon and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly were also involved in the crash. Both drivers sought treatment at the medical center, and Albon, whose car struck the wall, was taken to a hospital for further evaluation. Zhou and Russell exited the race. Esteban Ocon and Yuki Tsunoda, who were also caught up in the affair, had repairs and returned to the grid.

Onboard video showed Gasly trying to move into a gap between Zhou and Russell, who moved to the left. Gasly’s right front touched Russell’s left rear, sending the latter’s Mercedes into Zhou’s car.

Zhou is the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One.

Sainz’s chances seemed to dim when he followed a team order to allow teammate Charles Leclerc to pass through at one point. But a late safety car restart allowed Sainz to emerge with the win as Perez, Hamilton and Leclerc battled behind him for second. Leclerc finished fourth.

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Hamilton seemed well-positioned until the safety car was deployed and he lost position to Perez on the restart.

“I gave it everything today. I was trying to chase down those Ferraris. Congratulations to Carlos; in the end I was in that battle, but those guys were just too quick on the straights for us today,” Hamilton said on the Sky Sports post-race telecast. “We lost a bit of time in the pit stops, and then I was chasing and chasing, but the pace was good on both stint.”

Hamilton now has had two straight podium finishes. “This is a huge bonus for us to be on the podium,” he said. “I’m glad everyone was safe from the big crash at the beginning. But we are going to continue to push, try and give it everything we can.”

Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver who is the defending Formula One champion and current standings leader, fell from the lead after his car rolled over debris. He finished seventh.

Formula One officials said several fans attempted to enter the track after the early crash. “We can confirm that after the red flag, several people attempted to enter the track,” the organization told the BBC. “These people were immediately removed and the matter is now being dealt with by the local authorities.”