Formula 1 Racing

Sainz grabs first win for a returning F1 driver since 1997 · RaceFans

Michael Schumacher, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen, Hockenheimring, 199

Max Verstappen’s changes of equalling the record for most consecutive grand prix wins ended when his right-rear brake caught fire three laps into last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

That opened the door for Carlos Sainz Jnr to score a remarkable comeback win, two weeks since he was forced to miss the previous round after undergoing surgery on his appendix.

It’s been a long time since a driver missed a race due to illness then won on their return. Among those who’ve come close since are Lewis Hamilton, who didn’t take part in the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting Covid-19, but drove to the podium on his return at the next race in Abu Dhabi.

Michael Schumacher could have done it when he returned to racing at the 1999 Malaysian Grand Prix having missed the previous six races with a broken leg. However he was required to help his team mate Eddie Irvine’s championship bid, and gave up a win he could have had, finishing second behind the other Ferrari.

Berger won on his return from illness in 1997

Two years earlier, Gerhard Berger became the most recent driver to win on his return from an enforced absence. He sat out three races after an operation to help cure a sinus infection and returned at the Hockenheimring where he blew the competition away, winning from pole position. It was the final victory of his career.

With team mate Charles Leclerc following him home second, this was Ferrari’s first one-two since the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix, when the pair finished in the opposite order. Ferrari have scored 86 one-twos, 27 more than the next-best team, Mercedes.

Red Bull scored a one-two in the previous race. The last time F1 saw one-twos for two consecutive teams in different rounds was in 2019, when Ferrari filled the top two places in Singapore and Mercedes did the same at the next round in Sochi.

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Sainz’s win, the third of his career, means he has scored a victory in each of the last three seasons. He now has as many victories as two world champions – Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill – as well as Peter Collins, Didier Pironi, Thierry Boutsen, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Johnny Herbert and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Restart, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Mercedes last failed to score three years ago

Leclerc denied Sainz the fastest lap, taking the third of his career, giving him the same tally as Denny Hulme, Ronnie Peterson and Jacques Villeneuve. However he failed to equal his personal best run of eight consecutive front-row starts as he only…

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