What a beauty the 2020 FIA Formula One Sakhir Grand Prix has procured! Racing Point’s Sergio Perez took a sensational maiden F1 win in a race that looked to belong to Mercedes driver George Russell.
The King’s Lynn-born Briton, who was stepping in for the Covid-positive Lewis Hamilton this weekend, got off the line brilliantly to take over the lead from Valtteri Bottas and was set to pull off a maiden F1 win, but Mercedes made multiple mistakes during a double stop for its drivers. When Russell suffered a puncture in the closing stages of the race, Sergio Perez did not hestitate to cling on to the race lead to claim his first ever victory at his 191st Formula One Grand Prix.
MercedesValtteri Bottas, 8th
"It's been a really bad day for us. My start wasn't great, I had some wheelspin and didn't get a good getaway. George had a good start and could controlled the race from there. The beginning of my second stint looked quite promising, my pace was good and I started making up time on George. Without the Safety Car, I think George and I would have ended up having a nice battle towards the end. When we pitted under the Safety Car, there was some kind of mix up with the tyres and I ended up. I'm still not quite sure what happened, but I ended up leaving the pits on the same set of old hard tyres that I was on before.
"That's obviously not an ideal stop; you lose positions and don't get fresh rubber, which then made it very tricky at the Safety Car restart and I lost even more positions on the old tyres. It's always easy to criticise this afterwards but we're all in this together and normally the team is really bullet proof in those situations. So we will take a good look at this internally and see what we can learn from it. George did a great job today and was just really unfortunate - I think he could have otherwise won this race. Overall, it's been a difficult day for the team, but we'll be back on track in just a few days and I'll give it everything to end the season on a high."George Russell, 9th
"I don't quite know how to sum up the mixture of emotions I'm feeling at the moment. On the one hand, I'm proud of the job we did this weekend. I had a great group of people around me that was working very hard and diligently to get me prepared and ready for qualifying and the race. But today was absolutely gutting. I've had races before where I had a victory taken away from me, but it felt like that happened twice today, I still can't quite believe it. I had everything under control after the start and was managing the race, looking after my tyres and keeping the gap to Valtteri.
"Then we had that mess-up during the pit stop, I think there were some issues with the comms. That put us on the back foot, but I think we still could have won. And then the car was starting to feel a bit funny; I didn't want to believe it was a puncture, I just wanted to power through, but that obviously was not an option. I'm gutted, but also proud of what we have achieved and very happy to have had the opportunity to drive this car this weekend. Congratulations to Checo, he's been around for a long time and is a great driver and deserves to have a victory on his tally."
Red BullMax Verstappen, DNF
“I had a good start but got boxed in so was trying to stay out of trouble but everyone around me was being so aggressive and risking things like it was the last lap of the race. Especially Charles going up the inside at Turn 4 and braking so late when the track is so dusty. I understand he wanted to pass a car but it was just too optimistic. I respect Charles a lot and he is a great driver but I think that was a bit too much. Checo couldn’t see what was happening on the inside, Charles hit him and then he was spinning backwards across the track. I tried to go around the outside to avoid any damage to my car but ended up in the gravel and then the barrier. It’s frustrating to retire so soon in a race where we had a racy car and a good chance of doing well.”Alex Albon, 6th
“It was a very strange and scrappy race and I’m not really sure how it all unfolded but climbing from 12th to sixth isn’t too bad but we hoped for more today. We expected to be slow on the straights and we only just about to managed to stay with the other cars when we had DRS but it was so hard to overtake and I was having to dive bomb into Turn One to get the moves made. It was very hard to race with the configuration of downforce we had, and we were quick in parts of the track like sector two where you just can’t overtake. Now it’s full focus on Abu Dhabi in a few days’ time.”
Racing PointSergio Perez
“It’s still sinking in that I’ve won the race; I’m almost afraid to get too excited in case I’m dreaming! I’ve dreamed about this moment so many times. It’s taken 10 years to get to this point in Formula 1. There’s been a lot of hard work throughout my career and it’s not just been me, but my family and sponsors too. Success for Mexico in Formula 1 has been rare, so I will never forget the moment of seeing the Mexican flag on the podium, it was an incredible moment for me and my family. It was an unbelievable race. We made such a good start to battle with Max [Verstappen] and Charles [Leclerc] and then I got hit and I was thinking ‘this can’t be happening again!’. We were lucky not to pick up any more damage too. We didn’t give up and we pitted to go onto the medium tyre. I then had a lock-up under the safety car and flat-spotted one of my tyres.
"The vibration became so bad it was hurting my hands to grip the steering wheel and I thought we might have to pit again – but the team told me to stay out. The feeling in the car got much better and the medium tyre stint ended up being crucial to our win. When we stopped for a second time and got onto the hard tyre, it felt like a limousine to drive! It was so smooth and we had some great pace.
"I was able to overtake Lance and then get past Esteban. Obviously, the Mercedes had some problems, but I think we had enough pace in hand to hold George off – our simulation showed that you needed to be significantly faster to get by. Luck or not, we had a tremendous race today and we won on merit. I was crying behind the wheel and speechless for a while but it’s an incredible result for the team. Well done to Lance for getting on the podium too. I can’t wait to celebrate with the team! We have one race left and we’re determined to hold onto P3 at the end of the season.”
...how it’s goingpic.twitter.com/Z3HhwYZuuD— Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) December 6, 2020
“It’s a great result but a little part of me is a bit disappointed because I think I had the potential to win the race. After the first lap, we were in P6 and I knew we had a chance at a podium. I think we perhaps pitted a lap too late and that allowed Esteban [Ocon] to get ahead – but only after a really great battle until the exit of Turn 3 when he got the DRS effect. I didn’t have the pace to get by Esteban and then I was also a little late on the DRS, which helped Checo get by at Turn 4. I braked a little too late and he was then past me. It’s one of those things, but the important thing is the team result.
"I’m delighted for the team and so happy for Checo. He’s been a part of this team for a long time. He’s been running up at the front so many times in his career and he totally deserves a victory. It’s an unbelievable result for the team to get both cars on the podium and it’s exactly what we needed to bounce back from last weekend. We’ve had a great car all season and it was really strong this weekend and we delivered when it matters. I’m really excited about our potential and we’ll be looking to end the season on a high in Abu Dhabi.”
“It’s an amazing result for the team and congratulations to Esteban for getting his first ever podium, it was a really strong race by him and his side of the garage. For me it was slightly disappointing as we could have done even better than fifth. I was happy with my start and I felt like there was a lot of opportunity being in fourth after lap one. We then boxed and lost ground to Kvyat and stayed behind him for a while. We managed to get back ahead after the second stop but there wasn’t much I could do in the DRS train. We go at it again next weekend and try finish the season strong.”Esteban Ocon, 2nd
“What a race! We made it, we’re on the podium and it’s a fantastic feeling. It was awesome and all the emotions left my body when I crossed the line. I definitely cried and I’m proud to say it. That moment, crossing the line, I’ll remember it forever. The team executed the race really well, we had strong pace, and I had some fun out there with some overtakes too. It’s been a tough season but we kept believing in ourselves and that’s rewarded with this amazing feeling. Keep believing and it will come at some point! We’ve progressed massively this year and next week it’s back to it to focus on ending the season as best as we can.”
AlphaTauriPierre Gasly, 11th
“It was a very tough race today. We lacked pace and I just didn’t manage to do what I wanted inside the cockpit, I struggled with the rear and had a lot of understeer. In addition to that, we were also pretty unlucky with the timing of the virtual safety car. It was a crazy race and looking at the final podium, there were big opportunities today and it’s just a shame not being able to be in the mix for this fight. We need to have a look at the data to understand why it was so different today in comparison to Friday and what we could have done better, to try again and finish the season on a high in Abu Dhabi.”Daniil Kvyat, 7th
“This was a very good weekend for me and I was hoping for an even better result today - when the safety car came out I thought ‘this isn’t great timing for us’ but still, 7th is not bad. We did everything right today as a team, I had a perfect Quali yesterday, I drove really well for an almost perfect race today and I’m very happy with my performance. It was a strongly executed race and the best weekend of the year for me. The pace was there and we were close to the top of the midfield, there was one point where it was Carlos, myself and Ricciardo separated by just a couple of tenths, it was very on the edge and entertaining. It’s great to bring home some much-deserved points.”
McLarenCarlos Sainz, 4th
“Argh! This is a very bitter fourth place. The podium was very very close the whole way but unfortunately, we couldn’t make it happen. The start was obviously eventful, and I managed to squeeze into P3. That first stint on the Soft was super strong. It was a close call between strategies, and we went for the two stops. After the last Safety Car, the Mercedes stuck behind Stroll was not very helpful and I think I lost one lap too many. I managed to get past him and hunt down Stroll to the end, missing the podium by a small margin. I drove my heart out there today and did everything I could to get it. It’s frustrating, but at the same time we’ve been beaten by cars that were a bit luckier today and also a bit faster the whole weekend. So, we can’t be too disappointed, and we need to keep pushing until the last chequered flag. Congratulations to Checo on his first win, I think he deserves it. On to Abu Dhabi!”Lando Norris, 10th
“Today was tough. We had a really good first lap and got into P10 within the first few corners which was nice, but after that it was extremely difficult. We didn't have great pace and I just had to try to stay where I was, which was still good enough for a point but nothing more. A tough one and we’ve got some improvements to make next time, but it was a good recovery from the back of the grid.”
FerrariSebastian Vettel, 12th
"Today we didn’t have a very exciting race. I really fought hard trying to get a good result but in the end it was very difficult. I was defending today rather than attacking. Even at the end, when I had a small advantage in terms of tyres it was not easy at all, so for me it was a bit of a boring race.
"We tried to do something different going quite long in the first stint and then fitting hard tyres. From then on, I tried to look after the tyres and drive sensibly, but I don't think that it made a difference today."Charles Leclerc, DNF
"It was a shame to be out of the race on the first lap. I was on the inside of Max, a bit behind, and I tried to go side by side with him to the first corner and tried to brake a bit later. I had seen Checo in front of me but expected him to stay round the outside of Valtteri, which didn’t happen because he braked a bit earlier than Valtteri and came back towards the inside of the corner. As soon as I saw him coming back, I braked but it was too late as I locked up my front wheel and collided with him. I am not putting the blame on anyone else, if anyone is to blame, it's me. Of course I am disappointed and it will be good to be back in the car in just a few days so that I can put this race behind me."
Alfa RomeoKimi Raikkonen, 14th
“It was a difficult night in which we probably got as much as we could have hoped for, given the circumstances. I had a good start but had to go wide outside of turn two, hit the kerb and lost the rear. I lost two places there but in the end it made no difference for the end result. The car felt really similar to last week: it was good with fresh tyres but the pace fell off as the stint went on.”Antonio Giovinazzi, 13th
“P13 was probably the maximum we could achieve on the night so to finish in front of our rivals and just behind a Ferrari is what we have to take home. Overtaking was very difficult, even though we seemed to be quick enough in the corners, and in the end we couldn’t really take any advantage out of the late safety car. Hopefully we can be a bit more competitive next week and finish the season well.”
HaasPietro Fittipaldi, 17th
“I’m happy to have finished my first grand prix – that was the goal. I had a good battle at the end with Jack (Aitken), and I had Kevin (Magnussen) in front of me as well. It was good to get some action in there. My pace was quite good from mid-race through to the end. At the restart I was trying to fight, but I was conscious at the same time that the goal was to finish. I’ve learned a lot for my next race, that’s the most important thing. It’s very difficult nowadays to make it to Formula 1 but I can say I’ve finished a Formula 1 race. I’m thankful to the team for the opportunity.”Kevin Magnussen, 15th
“We were just slow today, there was no chance for us to do anything. We weren’t able to compete; the pace just wasn’t there for us. No matter what happened in the race we’d have needed a lot of people to not finish to be able to reach the points. It was a tough race, you always hope something can happen, but it didn’t today. We’ll look at everything tonight and see if there are any positives we can take from the day.”
"I have mixed emotions and I am a bit gutted by the mistake, I think we were doing a pretty good job up until then. I was trying to get up to speed and follow the guys through in front of me. We were on the option tyre which was working out pretty well for us. I have learnt a lot this weekend, and there are a lot of positives to take away. The single lap pace came on a really long way in such a short space of time, and our race pace was good as well. If I do step in again next weekend, I will be looking to do an even better job."Nicholas Latifi, DNF
"We think it was a suspected oil leak, so I was told to stop the car right away. It is obviously disappointing as we were running a strong race up until then in P13. We were looking quite comfortable; we still had a lot of the race to go and you never know what is going to happen. It is frustrating but the reliability has been pretty strong, and we have barely had any issues this season. I can’t fault anyone; it is just a shame but that is motorsport sometimes."