SERGIO PEREZ CLAIMED HIS VERY FIRST WIN IN FORMULA 1?! George Russell finished in P9, despite being in a Mercedes?! Racing Point claimed a double-podium?! The Sakhir Grand Prix was so crazy that I’m not sure if I can fit everything in one post! I mean. how often do you get a podium without a Mercedes? Well, I’ll tell you. Almost never! What’s even crazier is that George Russell was in one of the Mercs and that he was on the way to an outstanding race win. However, the win was ‘taken away from him twice’, due to no fault of his own.
Sergio Perez did a SENSATIONAL job this race by going from having a disastrous start to the race to doing a masterclass to win the race. Nobody could’ve EVER predicted this, because Perez went against ALL the odds to win, and everyone was ready to see Russell take that chequered flag. It’s finally time to review this absolute madness of a race. It’s the F1ntastic 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix Race Review.
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How Sergio Perez Went From Being LAST on the FIRST Lap To Being FIRST on the LAST Lap
Sergio Perez’s driving was more than just commendable at the Sakhir Grand Prix. It will be a true shame if this driver leaves F1 at the end of this year. He truly deserves a drive in Formula 1. He proved his worth by being the driver to take the win at this race. Mercedes had a nightmare, and there were quite a few drivers going for the win. Here, the victor was Perez, Like Pierre Gasly was in Italy earlier this year.
Perez was part of a crash involving 3 cars on the opening lap of this race. The Mexican was running in P4, and the cars were coming up the 2nd straight. Perez was trying to go around the outside, and he was ready to make a double-overtake on Bottas and Verstappen when they were all coming into Turn 4. He overtook Verstappen, but he decided to be patient with Bottas. He was looking to make the move for P2 in the outer section of the track. However, things went horribly wrong in the span of a couple of seconds. Behind Perez, Verstappen broke early for Turn 4 so that he didn’t cause any collisions.
Charles Leclerc, who was in P5, saw this and decided to brake late into Turn 4 in order to get past Verstappen. But the Monegasque overcooked it. He locked up his front right tire, meaning he couldn’t turn in for Turn 4. The Monegasque went straight on and hit Sergio Perez. It was even worse for Perez because he was trying to turn in and take a tighter line for Turn 5 to overtake Bottas into the chicane of the Outer Track. This meant that Leclerc had no way of avoiding Perez. It wasn’t Checo’s fault, since you can’t really anticipate that Leclerc would make a huge divebomb and then lock up.
The Safety Car was deployed since both Leclerc and Verstappen crashed into the barriers at Turn 4. Since Leclerc hit Perez so badly, Racing Point brought him in for a pitstop onto the medium tires. And this is where Checo showed his worth. Tire management is a huge part of Formula 1. Sergio Perez built a very positive reputation early on in his career of being able to manage his tires exceptionally well. In this situation, where you pit on Lap 1, and you return to the track in the last place, the only option is to stop only once after that. Obviously, Perez knew this, given his experience. And the fact that it’s pretty obvious that this was the strategy Racing Point was going to have to go for anyways.
Back to Perez’s driving, he managed to make an effective one-stop work by making an overtake almost every lap while stretching his tires. I must say, Checo’s stint on the medium tires was incredibly impressive. By only Lap 20 ONLY, Perez made it from P18 to P10. He did this in 18 laps, and he had to catch up to the field get past the Williams cars, the Haas cars, and the Alfa Romeos. Then, he had to overtake Sebastian Vettel, who’s replacing him at Racing Point next year. And after that, Perez overtook Lando Norris. On Lap 21, Perez battled Alex Albon for P9, and eventually, the Racing Point won the battle. However, it was a long dry run for Perez after that. He had to run in the same position for 20 laps before pitting in for the hard tires. And boy did that strategy work!
Perez came out safely ahead of Lando Norris, meaning that P9 was secure. A group of cars came in for their 2nd pitstops in their 2-stop strategies, so Perez vaulted up to P5. From then on, Perez kept cool under pressure and showed he deserves a seat for 2021. On Lap 56, coming into Turn 4, Perez had DRS on his teammate Stroll. Stroll crumbled under the pressure, and locked up into Turn 4, handing 4th position to Sergio Perez.
On Lap 57, Perez was coming down the main straight with DRS and tried to make a move for P3. Ocon defended and took the inside line, while Perez tried to go around the outside. However, he knew that it wouldn’t work, so he decided to turn in a little late and tighten up the racing line for Turns 2 & 3. That proved to be a very smart decision because the exit out of Turn 3 was fabulous for Perez, and the Mexican used DRS to grab P3 from Esteban Ocon. That was already a great position, but the race was far from over.
All About Mercedes’ Woes – And How They Gave Perez The Win At The Sakhir Grand Prix
The Netflix curse. It’s haunted Mercedes ever since Netflix filmed them at the 2019 German Grand Prix. Formula 1: Drive To Survive is a Netflix documentary series/docuseries that gives viewers exclusive access behind the scenes. This series is extremely popular because it gives viewers a chance to see the other half of the Formula 1 world. So far, this series has 2 seasons, covering the 2018 and 2019 seasons of Formula 1. In Season 1, only Mercedes and Ferrari didn’t give access to Netflix. However, in Season 2, Mercedes and Ferrari also granted access to Netflix for filming them.
Netflix filmed Mercedes at the 2019 German Grand Prix. It was supposed to be a great episode for the series and a great show, since it was the home GP for Mercedes. It was a fantastic episode in terms of excitement, but the Netflix curse still brought nightmares for the Silver Arrows. At first, things were jolly. Mercedes were sporting a special livery and special team kits in honor of Mercedes’ 125th Anniversary in motorsport. Everyone was looking forward to Mercedes giving their home crowd a joyous race. But then, things went wrong. At the German GP, there was a flu going around the paddock, and Hamilton had caught it. He was incredibly sick, and many thought he wouldn’t be able to compete in Qualifying. However, he still managed to wrestle the car to pole position, despite his illness.
When the race rolled around, Mercedes had a disaster. Hamilton lost his front wing at the penultimate corner on Lap 29, right after Leclerc crashed out of the race at the same place. This was due to the tricky conditions on the track. Hamilton suddenly came into the pits, and this is the most embarrassing part for Mercedes. Since Hamilton crashed near the pit lane entry, he came into the pits immediately after crashing. Mercedes didn’t have any tires ready, nor did they have the spare front wing, meaning that Hamilton sat in the pit box for 50.3 seconds. Hamilton finished that race in an embarrassing P11, while Valterri Bottas crashed out of the race.
At the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, the entire F1 world was praying that Mercedes had a good race. Netflix was filming them again, and it was especially important that Mercedes got redemption, since it was George Russell behind the wheel instead of Lewis Hamilton. Everyone was cheering Russell on because he showed his talent, and he truly deserved a race win at Sakhir. Qualifying was a breeze for Mercedes; they managed a front-row lockout, with Bottas on pole. It was very close between Bottas, Russell, and Verstappen in P3. Verstappen’s lap time in Q3 was only 0.056s behind Bottas’s, while Russell missed out on pole by just 0.026s. Everyone thought that the Netflix curse had left and that Mercedes were in the clear. But the reality was the complete opposite.
Up until Lap 62 of the total 87 laps in this race, everything was looking great for Mercedes. They had a comfortable 1-2 with George Russell in the lead, after Russell overtook Bottas into Turn 1 at the race start. However, Jack Aitken, Russell’s replacement at Williams, made a mistake at the final corner. He ran wide and half-spun and lost his front wing after lightly hitting the barrier. Both the Mercs were on the hard tires and were trying to stretch them to the end of the race. However, these tires barely had any grip left in them.
Aitken’s crash saw debris and a broken front wing spewed across the track, so Race Control deployed the Safety Car. Mercedes used this as an opportunity to bring both the cars in to pit for the medium tires. This double-stack was a disaster. Russell had a slow pitstop of around 5.3 seconds, and because of a problem with the front-left wheel gun. For Bottas, it was 5 times worse. Literally, his pitstop took 27.4 seconds. There were 2 problems here. First of all, the medium tires that the pit crew were putting on Bottas’s car were the wrong set. Because of the double-stack, the pit crew mixed up Russell’s tires with Bottas’s. On top of that, the front-left wheel gun had some issues, and Bottas’s brakes were on fire. It was appalling how Mercedes’ race unravelled the way it did.
Russell had to pit again on Lap 63 to get rid of Bottas’s mediums and switch to his tires. The mix-up didn’t cost Russell any points, but Mercedes were fined. Despite these pitstop issues, Bottas and Russell were in P4 and P5 respectively when the Safety Car period ended. The SC period ended on Lap 69, and Russell had remarkable pace, making his way to 2nd place by Lap 73, after making incredible overtakes on Bottas, Stroll and Ocon.
Russell was on a charge, and if the win wasn’t taken away from him the 2nd time, the Briton would’ve surely overtaken Sergio Perez for the win. A rear-left puncture meant that Russell had to pit for a set of used soft tires. He finished the race in a lowly 9th, and he got the fastest lap of the race, meaning he only got 3 points in Sakhir. Bottas finished in 8th, around 2.8 seconds ahead of Russell.
Since the Mercedes cars had such major problems, Sergio Perez just had to keep his calm and nurse his car home to a fabulous maiden victory. He was under a lot of pressure for the majority of that race, and he kept his calm, managed his tires extremely well, and won the race. It was a Grand Prix of mixed emotions, as we saw a maiden winner – but not the one we expected. One can feel happy and proud of Checo, but you can’t help but feel bad for George Russell. The win was stolen from him twice, and it was given to the hands of Sergio Perez, in the incredibly exciting inaugural Sakhir Grand Prix.
Esteban Ocon took his first podium on Formula 1 after a tough first few years in Formula 1. For Racing Point, they scored their first double-podium, as Perez and Stroll finished in 1st and 3rd. This vaulted Racing Point up to 3rd in the constructors’ championship, since they scored an absolutely insane 43 points in one race. McLaren and Renault are 10 and 22 points behind Racing Point, which means that this fight will go down to the very last lap of the very last round in Abu Dhabi. This double-header in Bahrain will never be forgotten, because these 2 races have been indented in Formula 1 history.
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