Mexican Sergio Perez took the first win of his Formula One career in an extraordinary Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday as Mercedes botched what should have been a debut win for George Russell.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon was second for Renault and Canadian Lance Stroll finished third for Racing Point.
Perez in his penultimate race for Racing Point and without a drive for next season, produced a remarkable drive to win despite having to pit at the end of the first lap after being hit by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at Turn Four.
“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.”
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.
Mercedes, were architects of their own misfortune as they wrecked Russell’s race with a botched pitstop.
The 22-year-old Briton, who took the wheel after world champion Lewis Hamilton contracted coronavirus, was on his way to victory before a late-race safety car.
Mercedes did not have to pit their cars, but chose to do so in what was intended to be a safety decision.
But they put the wrong tyres on Russell’s car and then could not fit a new set to that of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who had to have his old tyres fitted back on to his car.
Russell had to stop again the next time around to fit a correct set, and the Mercedes were now down in fourth and fifth places, Bottas ahead.
Russell could still have won the race, but a puncture when he was trying to chase down Perez sent him to the back. He carved his way back up to ninth for his first F1 points, but that will be scant reward after such drama.