The race had to be restarted after Zhou’s car turned upside down and crashed into a guardrail, which was clipped shortly after the start.
This caused a long delay, but the driver was eventually declared fit after being examined at the medical center.
After the restart of the race, Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez suffered damage to their cars and fell in the pecking order, allowing Ferrari’s Sainz and Charles Leclerc to establish a strong lead.
But the safety car with 10 laps to go allowed Pérez to get back in contact, and he and Lewis Hamilton overtook Leclerc in a thrilling end to the race for second and third respectively.
Sainz, who also overtook his teammate after the safety car, struggled to contain his emotions after being the first to cross the line.
“I don’t know what to say, it was amazing,” an emotional Sainz said after the race. “It was a special day that I will never forget.
“It wasn’t easy, I struggled a bit with the balance. […] but even with all this, I continued to believe.
There was a lot of excitement leading up to the race and there were many world stars on the grid before the start.
However, shortly after the start of the races, this excitement turned into nerves after a violent collision brought the race to a halt on the first lap.
The footage shows Zhou’s Alfa Romeo flipped upside down in a dramatic incident that also involved George Russell and Pierre Gasly.
Zhou’s car skidded upside down on the highway and then overturned over a tire barrier before crashing into a fence.
While waiting nervously for news, the Chinese driver was treated by paramedics and he was eventually placed in an ambulance without serious injury.
Williams Racing driver Alex Albon, who was involved in the accident as a result of the incident, was taken to Coventry Hospital for preventive checks.
After a long wait, the race started again from the starting grid position, despite Verstappen overtaking Sainz on the first start and Hamilton initially jumping from fifth to third.
The relaunch was clean, but not without drama. The Ferrari and Red Bull cars were battling each other for the top four places, with Pérez suffering damage to his car and falling onto the field after a forced pit stop.
At first, Sainz kept Verstappen well, but soon the Red Bull pilot overtook him and took the lead.
However, shortly after, the reigning Formula One champion suffered a puncture and damaged the rear of the car.
After a pit stop and reduced performance, his race was effectively over, much to the delight of some at Silverstone who taunted the driver over the weekend.
When it looked like two Ferraris would make it through the race, the safety car rallied the field again, allowing Pérez and Hamilton to make their way to the podium.
Sainz hopes to repeat his first win in the sport next week in Austria.