By Robert Haile
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen title defence continued with comeback win this time only from seventh.
As penalties changed the grid with Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon all dropping back the grid.
The pit lane and grid all fell silent in respect for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Race winner and championship leader Verstappen said: “The first lap I had to be careful, but we had a good start and were clean through the first chicane, and for me that was the most important thing, to stay out of trouble.
“Then we were very quickly back up to P3 and even into P2. Then I could set my sights on Charles and I could see we had better tyre degradation.
“Overall, if you look at the pace of our car this weekend, especially today, I think we were strong.
“The pace was good on every tyre and we were comfortably the quickest on the track. You have to try and be as perfect as you can be and on most occasions this season, we have been pretty good.”
Pole sitter Charles Leclerc had made the Ferrari fans happy on Saturday and kept them cheering as he led off the line with Mercedes’ George Russell in second.
Within five laps Verstappen was up into second chasing Leclerc while further back Sainz was making nine places in seven laps.
He continued to carve his way through the field and by the virtual safety car on lap twelve he was up to fifth as Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel race finished.
Leclerc came in under the virtual safety car and back out under race conditions with the fourth placed McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo applying pressure at the start of the lap.
Second placed Russell came in on lap 24 but a slow pit stop brought him out fourth behind both of the Ferrari drivers and two laps later Verstappen came in giving the lead to Leclerc, who might need to pit again.
Spanish driver Sainz came in on lap 31 with fellow Spanish driver Fernando Alonso coming in a lap later but the Alpine drive’s race was finished.
The lead reverted back to Verstappen on lap 34 as Leclerc came in for soft tyres and Hamilton pulled off a double overtake as Pierre Gasly passed Lando Norris he went passed the pair.
Lance Stroll pulled into the pit and completed a double retirement for Aston Martin on lap 41.
Everything seemed set for a close finish until Ricciardo, winner here last season, pulled up on lap 47 bring out a safety car.
As Verstappen, Leclerc, Russel and Sainz took the free pit stop to change for soft tyres ready for the restart that never came.
The race finished under the safety car with Verstappen, Leclerc and Russel completing the podium as Sainz for finished fourth.
Hamilton finished fifth from nineteenth with Sergio Perez in sixth, Norris seventh, Gasly eighth and Williams’ replacement driver Nyck De Vries scored two points on his F1 debut as Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu took the last point in tenth.
Alpine’s scoring run finished with Esteban Ocon in eleventh, Haas’ Mick Schumacher took twelfth, Bottas’ Alfa Romeo came home in thirteenth with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen bring the running cars home.
After this result Verstappen can mathematically win the title at the next race and with six races left, he can also potentially break the record for most race wins in a season.
Formula One heads east to Singapore and the Marina Bay Street Circuit at the end of September.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 335
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 219
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull) – 210
- George Russell (Mercedes) – 203
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 197
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 168
- Lando Norris (McLaren) – 88
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine) – 66
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine) – 59
- Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) – 46
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – 22
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas) – 22
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – 20
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – 19
- Mick Schumacher (Haas) – 12
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – 11
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) – 5
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – 5
- Alex Albon (Williams) – 4
- Nyck De Vries (Williams) – 2
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – 0
- Nico Hulkenberg (Aston Martin) – 0
- Red Bull – 545
- Ferrari – 406
- Mercedes – 371
- Alpine – 125
- McLaren – 107
- Alfa Romeo – 52
- Haas – 34
- AlphaTauri – 33
- Aston Martin – 25
- Williams – 6