Perez in dreamland after miraculous drive from last to first in Bahrain

Sergio Perez admitted that he was afraid to get too excited just in case he was dreaming, after a stunning drive from the back of the field to take his maiden F1 victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix.

“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,” said Perez. “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 one of the great F1 drives, reminiscent of former teammate Jenson Button’s surge from last to first in the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix but without the wet weather leading to retirements.

Of course, to win any grand prix demands that a number of circumstances play out perfectly, and Mercedes’ late botched pit job certainly helped Perez out. But it looked a forlorn hope from the outset, when the Mexican was pitched into a spin by Charles Leclerc, sending him to the back of the field.

What followed was an exceptional drive, as Perez pitted immediately to swap his used soft tyres for a set of mediums before carving his way through the field in typical style, taking the opportunity to pit for the hard tyre to take him to the end of the race following the late Safety Car.

“It was an unbelievable race,” reflected Perez. “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!”

Still the work was not yet done, as Perez had two more overtakes to execute to lead, before holding off a flying George Russell at the end.

“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.”

Motorsport Technology