Having been tagged by George Russell just after the start, Zhou’s car flipped upside down and skidded at high speed off the track, with the force of the impact seeing the Alfa Romeo vault the outer barrier and come to rest against the inner catch fencing.
Though there was much concern for Zhou’s condition, the Chinese driver was released after precautionary checks at the circuit’s medical center, and later posted on social media to confirm he was unhurt.
After a delay of one hour, the race was restarted, and from his pole position, Sainz held the lead until he ran wide at Becketts on Lap 10, allowing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake.
However, Sainz was back in the lead two laps later, as Verstappen slowed with a suspected puncture and came in for fresh tyres.
It subsequently emerged that the problem was with Verstappen’s floor, not his tyres, and though the Dutchman would finish the race, the loss of performance ended his chances of contending for victory.
Sainz was now coming under pressure from teammate Charles Leclerc, and after the two made their planned pitstops, Ferrari ordered Sainz to let Leclerc by on Lap 31, with the team worried about the pace of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who hadn’t pitted yet and now led the race.
Hamilton did pit on Lap 34, emerging third behind Leclerc and Sainz, and it looked as if that might be the order until the chequered flag.
However, proceedings were turned on their head when the Safety Car was deployed on Lap 39 to clear the stricken Alpine of Esteban Ocon, bunching the pack up and prompting several drivers to pit for fresh rubber.
While Leclerc did not elect to pit, those behind him did, including Sainz, Hamilton, and the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez, who had quietly made his way up through the order following an early pit stop to change a damaged front wing.
Knowing Leclerc would likely be slower than his rivals, Sainz refused Ferrari’s request to give him as much space as possible at the restart on Lap 43, and quickly passed the Monegasque on that tour to take a lead he would hold until the end.
But behind Sainz’s run to victory, the capacity crowd at Silverstone was treated to a truly classic display of wheel-to-wheel combat, as Leclerc, Hamilton and Perez passed and repassed each other several times over the final few laps, with Perez ultimately emerging second with Hamilton third, and Leclerc’s older tyres ultimately seeing him drop to fourth.
Fernando Alonso finished fifth for Alpine, with Lando Norris sixth in his McLaren. Verstappen salvaged seventh from a difficult race, and Haas’ Mick Schumacher scored his first F1 points at the 30th time of asking with eighth place.
Sebastian Vettel took ninth place for Aston Martin on his 35th birthday, with Schumacher’s teammate Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top ten.
Despite a disappointing day, Verstappen still leads the Drivers’ Championship with 181 points. Perez remains second with 147, and Leclerc stays third on 138 points.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull lead the way with 328 points. Ferrari stay second with 265, and Mercedes remain third with 204 points.
The 11th round of the 2022 F1 World Championship is next week’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring on July 10.