Few could have predicted the outcome of the action-packed Sakhir GP as Sergio Perez took his maiden F1 win, benefitting from Mercedes’ pit stop error. Esteban Ocon secured his maiden F1 podium in 2nd place, while Lance Stroll finished 3rd to hand Racing Point a double podium finish.
Perez takes first-ever F1 win after 190 starts
Russell finishes 9th after late race puncture
Ocon and Stroll complete the podium
Mercedes’ Sakhir GP pit drama
Along with Perez’ victory, the Sakhir GP will perhaps be remembered as the day the usually well-oiled Mercedes dropped the ball. George Russell, who was standing in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes after the world champion tested positive for COVID-19, dived down the inside of Valtteri Bottas to take the lead at the start.
He held a comfortable lead over Bottas for the majority of the race. Given their sizeable advantage, Mercedes opted to pit both drivers for fresh tyres under the late Safety Car – something that ended up being their undoing. Radio miscommunication resulted in Russell’s Mercedes being fitted with Bottas’ front tyres. Russell was forced to pit again to fix the error, while Bottas had to continue running on his old hard tyres.
Russell quickly carved his way through the pack after re-joining the race in 5th place. Just when it looked like he could be scoring a remarkable maiden win, he suffered a puncture. As some consolation, he did score his first-ever points in F1 after crossing the line behind his teammate, Bottas in 9th place. Nevertheless, the race proved to be a successful Mercedes debut for Russell, who showed off his potential to be a future star for the Silver Arrows.
Perez secures maiden F1 win
All of this drama handed Perez the lead – a remarkable feat considering he was running last at the end of lap 1 after being involved in an incident that took out both Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. The Mexican driver staged a brilliant comeback drive to put himself in prime position to benefit from Mercedes’ woes. From there on, he enjoyed a smooth run to an incredible maiden win, just one week after an MGU-K failure robbed him of a podium finish in the 2020 Bahrain GP.
“I’m a bit speechless. I hope I’m not dreaming you know because I dreamed so many years of being in this moment. Ten years, ten years it took me,” said an emotional Perez, who with 190 starts has set the record for the longest wait for a maiden F1 win.
“After the first lap the race was again gone, same as last weekend. But it was all about not giving up, recovering, going for it, just making the best of what you possibly could. This season the luck hasn’t been with us, but we finally got it. I think today we were on merit. Yes, the Mercs had some issues but in the end my pace was strong enough to hold George – who did a fantastic race today,” he continued.
Perez’ future in F1 is still uncertain, with Red Bull being his only realistic option on the 2021 F1 grid.
Ocon scores first F1 podium
Renault’s Esteban Ocon also had an emotional reaction to his shocking 2nd place result. It’s been a long road back to F1 for the French driver after he was forced out of Racing Point at the end of 2018. Adding to that, he’s been largely outperformed by teammate Daniel Ricciardo this year, making his first F1 podium even sweeter. “I really enjoyed that race and all the emotions that came when I crossed the line – unbelievable,” said Ocon.
“I never cry for anything, but I tell you today, the tears they came and they came for a good reason, so I’m really happy.”
Lance Stroll crossed the line in 3rd place to secure a double podium for Racing Point. This helps the team leap back to third position overall in the constructors’ championship.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz had to settle for 4th place, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull’s Alex Albon. Daniil Kvyat scored a solid 7th place result for AlphaTauri, while McLaren’s Lando Norris took the last points scoring position with a 10th place finish.
The teams will now head to Abu Dhabi this weekend for the finale of the 2020 F1 season. Leclerc will be starting the race with a three-place grid drop due to his opening-lap crash.
2020 Sakhir GP results
Red Bull Racing
Alfa Romeo Racing
Alfa Romeo Racing
Red Bull Racing
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