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PIX: Perez goes from last to first in astonishing Sakhir GP

December 07, 2020 09:52 IST
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Racing Point's Sergio Perez celebrates on the podium with the trophy after winning the race Sakhir F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Sunday

IMAGE: Racing Point's Sergio Perez celebrates on the podium with the trophy after winning the race Sakhir F1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Sunday. Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/Pool via Reuters

Mexican Sergio Perez, in his penultimate race for Racing Point and without a drive for next season, took the first win of his Formula One career in an extraordinary Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain on Sunday.

Tearful Frenchman Esteban Ocon was second for Renault, his first podium finish, and Canadian Lance Stroll took third for Racing Point as champions Mercedes's race fell apart in a botched pitstop and bad luck.

 

"I hope I'm not dreaming because I've been dreaming of this moment for 10 years," said Perez, eyes closed and looking to the heavens on the podium as the Mexican anthem sounded.

"After the first lap, the race was gone. But it was all about not giving up, recovering. This season, the luck hasn't been with us but I think today we won on merit."

Perez, who vaulted to fourth in the overall standings after Sunday's race, is the first Mexican driver to win a race since Pedro Rodriguez took victory in the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix.

It was also Silverstone-based Racing Point’s first win since the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix when the team raced as Jordan.

Racing Point's Sergio Perez sprays sparkling wine on Renault's Esteban Ocon as they celebrate on the podium 

IMAGE: Racing Point's Sergio Perez sprays sparkling wine on Renault's Esteban Ocon as they celebrate on the podium. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/Pool via Reuters

The 30-year-old also becomes the second first time winner this season after Pierre Gasly scored his first Formula One triumph for AlphaTauri at the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Perez spun on the opening lap after a clash that sent Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc out of the race.

The Mexican's fighting comeback through the field after pitting, from 18th place to an emotional victory, was the stuff of fantasy.

The victory was the first for the team as Racing Point and first for the Silverstone-based outfit since Italian Giancarlo Fisichella won for predecessors Jordan in Brazil in 2003.

George Russell, standing in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes after the seven times world champion tested positive for COVID-19, could have won but a late slow puncture dashed his hopes as he was closing in on Perez.

 France's Pierre Gasly driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 Honda leads Britain's Lando Norris driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault on track during Sakhir F1 GP on Sunday

IMAGE: France's Pierre Gasly driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01 Honda leads Britain's Lando Norris driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault on track during Sakhir F1 GP on Sunday. Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace - Pool/Getty Images

The Briton led for much of the race but finished ninth with the fastest lap, the only consolation for the regular Williams driver being that he scored points for the first time in his career.

"I'm absolutely gutted," he said.

The 22-year-old Briton, parachuted in to replace Lewis Hamilton after the seven-times world champion tested positive for COVID-19, looked comfortably in control having wrested the lead from his pole-sitting team mate at the first corner.

But a pitstop bungle, which initially dropped him to fifth, and then a puncture that struck while he was back up to second and hunting Perez down for the lead, ended his hopes.

That left Perez, who found himself at the back of the field at the end of the first lap after contact with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, free to cruise across the line 10.5 seconds clear of Renault’s Ocon.

 

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