The Spaniard, 27, seemed to be nailed on for a second-place finish as Ferrari appeared to be cruising to a one-two, with Charles Leclerc coasting to victory. However, a reported power unit issue led to Sainz guiding his car away from the track as he gradually slowed down.
Alarmingly, flames began to emerge at the back of the Ferrari and these quickly developed into a full-on fire. Sainz made to exit the vehicle but it began to roll backwards down the hill as he released the break, with stewards eventually arriving on the seen to aid the visibly-distraught driver.
Sainz escaped without injury but his Ferrari was in a bad way as he became the third driver to retire from the race, following Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Williams’ Nicholas Latifi. He could be heard exclaiming “no, no, no” over his radio as the issue to his power unit became apparent.
Just one week earlier, Sainz tasted victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, but he cut a dejected figure as he sat on the gravel by the track before trudging back to the pit lane.
Sainz’s teammate Leclerc took victory after 71 laps while Max Verstappen, the defending champion and this season’s leader, followed him home in second. Lewis Hamilton had a fine race to complete the podium, while his Mercedes teammate George Russell came fourth, earning a smile from team principal Toto Wolff.
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Sky Sports F1)
Esteban Ocon finished fifth for Alpine, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was seventh, in-between Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen. Hamilton paid tribute to his Mercedes backroom staff in his post-race interview after their tireless work to rebuild his car following a crash in Sprint qualifying on Friday.
“What an incredible crowd we’ve had here this weekend,” he told Sky Sports F1. “Yesterday was a difficult day, it’s been a rough weekend. I’m really grateful to the team. I had a brand new car on Saturday morning. I’m so thankful to them. We’ve made some improvements this weekend, so we just have to keep chipping away.”