Sergio Perez, Racing Point, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Perez says he could have kept Russell behind after taking first win

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Sergio Perez is convinced he would have won the Sakhir Grand Prix even if George Russell hadn’t suffered a late puncture.

The Racing Point driver scored his maiden victory after long-time leader Russell lost time due to a pit stop error. The Mercedes driver was catching him over the final laps, but a puncture forced him back into the pits again, finishing his chances of victory.

Perez, who made his F1 debut in 2011, said he had waited for his breakthrough win his whole career.

“I’m a bit speechless,” he said. “I hope I’m not dreaming because I dreamed so many years of being in this moment, 10 years it took me. It’s incredible. I don’t know what to say.”

Perez fell to last on the first lap following a collision with Charles Leclerc. He said he thought all hope of a good result was over at that point.

“After the first lap the race was again gone, same as last weekend,” he said. “But it was all about not giving up, recovering, going through it, just making the best that we possibly could. This season, the luck hasn’t been with us this year but we finally got it.”

He is confident he would have been quick enough to keep Russell behind him if the Mercedes driver had caught up.

“I think we won today on merit,” said Perez. “Yes, the Mercedes had some issues but I think in the end my pace was strong enough to have held George, who did a fantastic race today.”

Perez revealed he lost time in his first stint due to an error. “I did a big mistake during the safety car I locked up my front left tyre badly so during my first stint I had so many vibrations throughout the stint.”

The car’s handling improved dramatically on a fresh set of tyres. “As soon as I recovered onto the second stint I told my team ‘This car feels like a limousine’, so easy without the vibrations, we had tremendous pace and I think we did really well throughout the weekend.”

With no contract for the 2021 F1 season, Perez’s next race is due to be his last. He is determined to return to F1 if he can’t get a seat for next season.

“It makes me a bit more peaceful with myself. What happens is not so much in my hands at the moment but I know I want to keep going so if I’m not on the grid next year I will be back in 2022.”

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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34 comments on “Perez says he could have kept Russell behind after taking first win”

  1. That’s not an outlandish claim. His pace got better in the last few laps, and I’m guessing he was not pushing as hard when Russell dropped out of contention. Russell was gaining only 0.4s a lap, he might have caught Sergio with a couple of laps to spare but his mediums would’ve peaked by then.

    1. Wolff also said this, it is certainly not a given Russell could have gotten by a wiley Perez wanting to hang onto a win @wsrgo

    2. I agree, Russel took some laps to close the gap from 3s to 2s. By the time they were on DRS things could change – overtake mode on Merc or simple draft. But Russell advantage was really not that great.

      1. Yes, it was impressive, both from russel and perez, russel got past the other 2 cars like it’s expected from midfield cars, got by bottas more easily than I thought and perez had built such a gap on the others that it’s pretty obvious he wasn’t anywhere near their pace, and indeed I think he had good chances to win without russel’s puncture.

    3. Sorry but Russell was around .400 faster than Perez with about 10 laps to go and the difference was almost 2 seconds when he was told he had a slow puncture which increased the gap to 2.4 seconds . So no. Russell’s was way faster. Russell’s had better and newer tires and I’m pretty sure he was going to be even faster lap by lap until the end.

    4. Perez was sent to the pits in lap 1 no way he had let that go easy, let alone anyway Perez is a tough cookie to pass by and that pink merc flies on the lead too. I mean 10 seconds lead !!!

      In anyway Russel luck out most of the shenanigans were under the safety car, and he abused the tires and even was warned by the pit wall about it, so debatable he was responsible for puncture ….

      Nice lead drive from Russel but I think Stroll pull 10 seconds on 2nd on his leading race vs less than 3 second on Bottas by Russel, the merc had the pace to win we know that, but IMHO Russel didn’t really do much more than Norris or Sainz could have done in the same situation.

  2. I think he’s right – George wasn’t closing that much, and catching is one thing – passing is another. It would have been close but I think Sergio could have held on.

    Russell may be DSQ’d anyway so it might be a purely academic debate!

    1. would of … should of… then anyway Perez could win from the start without Leclerc crash, or would been a battle with Max, however the race was what it was and Perez pass all the cars need to be there first when the flag was waved at the end, was a fun race.

      cheap George threat to Hamilton contracts talks, Totto is a mastermind !

      1. Read the rules. He wouldn’t have been disqualified because even though Russell has botta’s tires fitted in his car, they changed them within three laps.

        1. You are referring to a rule about fitting wrong tires from a driver’s own allocation. Fitting tires from the other driver is a different thing and the three laps rule doesn’t apply in such case. It was an automatic disqualification but the stewards decided to be lenient at their own discretion.

          1. learn that one !

  3. Great race… amazing race!! from Checo Perez and RP. I think the initial comments from Perez are still hot, fresh with high emotions, excitement and a little over optimistic. I don’t think RP had the pace to hold MERC / Rusell, but we will never know, one thing is to reach and other to make the pass, a lot could’ve had happened during the attempt, a miscalculation, over brake, twist and up to the barriers etc.. or simply a majestic drive (as Rusell was doing) and a clean pass, who knows?

    Though luck for Rusell who proved he is ready for a MERC drive coming 2022 (Bottas should be kicked out to the curb) even better if it happens in 2021

    Despite MERCs misfortune RP / Checo’s win was purely on merit. Checo had bad luck with the MGUK last week but unlike Albon’s podium who literally inherited 3rd Place, this time Checo’s podium was not inherited from the misfortune of Rusell, at the time of the event Rusell was running behind Perez, Rusell’s puncture and pit / drop happened while behind Perez who was running 1st.

    Great drive for Checo ,hope we can see him on the grid in 2021 in a competitive car (RBR).
    Great drive for Rusell who was a very promising career at MERC and I can’t wait to see him full time there.

    1. Sorry I can’t edit my post. I meant Russell (misspelled his last name) and last sentence should read “Who has a very promising career…. “

    2. Sorry. It was inherited. Perez took the first spot because of Russell misfortunes, otherwise Russell would have won and bottas would have been second. Just like Albon last week, he inherited third place from Perez because of the DNF./ Last but not least, Perez got lucky the tires lasted a lot, he also got lucky that there were a couple of safety cars and also virtual safety cars, that Charles took verstapen out because according to sources in the paddock , Verstapen was the best in race trim. Let’s be a bit more honest about what happened today.

      1. please explain how after being on the pits after lap 1 by no fault of his own, going out thru the field and being INFRONT of Russel that overcooked his tires to failure, Perez inherit the win ?

        Inherit means the car INFRONT fails and you get it, misfortunes from cars BEHIND not important to cars AHEAD !

        mind blogging really, what the guy has to do to get recognition for a great performance ?

      2. Verstapen, Charles, Russell, Bottas, could have, would have, should have, but didn’t.

        I have an idea, let’s red flag the race, park the cars and wait until the Max, Charles and MERC get their act together, then let them line up ahead of all others and restart the race.

        As I said, I think Russell was on pace to reach Perez ( I think within 5 laps) before the puncture, in a perfect world he would’ve passed Perez, but no pass is automatic, and we will never know. What we know is Perez was dead last on lap 1, and passed 17 cars to win the race, you can’t call that luck, sorry.

      3. Really? Lucky that the tyres lasted? You can get lucky and cook a steak perfectly. But you don’t simply get lucky and keep your tyres alive while going fast.

  4. F1oSaurus (@)
    6th December 2020, 20:46

    Well “on merit” means something different though. But then he benefitted massively from those safety cars while he lost out from Leclerc’s blunder. How do you even begin to measure “on merit” with all of that.

    Anyway, it’s good to see that people finally got a glimpse of how great Russell is. I really hope Hamilton and Russell team up for a season or two.

    1. @f1osaurus Interesting. Maybe “on merit” can be treated as considering all controllable circumstances. In this race, Mercedes’ screw up was their own fault, but the puncture was a random stroke of bad luck. So had Perez and Racing Point beaten Russell without the puncture, I think they can claim that they won the race on merit.

    2. @f1osaurus I think it was “on merit” in the sense that Perez finished where he should have finished – best of the rest. It’s just that the drivers who would normally have finished ahead of him either crashed on the first lap or suffered due to their team’s comical incompetence.

  5. Congratulations on a great drive and victory. Perez certainly has a special talent to be in the right position of a freak race. Now would be a great time to end his career, instead of joining a team alongside the favoured prodigy who will end the hype surrounding Perez.

  6. I seem to remember the commentator (Brundle I think) saying Mercedes would lap every car in the field at least once, good to see he knows his stuff ;-)

    But seriously, the SC helped Perez to his maiden win, plus Mercedes incompentence, but he does deserve the win as he drove very well and needs a contract for 2021.

  7. Perez has a point. Not sure he would be able to prevent Russell overtaking once he had DRS but it much harder than it seems (harder than the ones on Bottas, Stroll and Icon, for sure).
    And Perez is a clever and hard-fighting driver, would have a couple of tricks up his sleeve.

    But to me, reading all the comments about Russell, I feel sad how Perez is a bit downplayed.
    The guy fell to last on Lap 1 and he still ends up 3rd behind the Mercs.
    I guess maybe the poorly timed pitstops for Sainz and Ricciardo helped get them out of the way but still, the way Perez came back to his “correct” position on track (fastest behind the Mercs, once Max was out) was massive.

    I think the results for Driver of the Day should have been much closer between him and Russel!

    1. Perez was lucky that the tires lasted more than what all the teams though. He also got lucky because the safety cars otherwise he wouldn’t have won the race. Not even counting the fact that Russell had to do 4 pits stops , that Charles took verstappen out, that bottas is useless and the stroll was a good team player and let Perez pass him without losing any time.

    2. I think most people vote before the race is over ……

  8. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
    6th December 2020, 22:22

    Good job by Perez. Really rebounded well in this race. Glad he got a win finally… hope it makes RP question their decision to move on from him! Hopefully he gets a ride with RBR.

    1. If Perez does manage to get Albon’s seat for next year, I’m sure it will be EXTREMELY satisfying for him to consistently have Vettel and Stroll in his rear view mirrors.

      1. well already has way more points than Vettel and Stroll combined so nothing new !

  9. It took 3 extra pitstops to hold off Russel.

    If he was behind Perez without puncture He would have gotten by. That kid was overtaking everyone today.

    1. no you are wrong Perez overtook everyone, and did same stops, but he didn’t need extra one for overcooking his tires

      1. Perez overtook a lot of the rear-end of the grid, and passed most/all of the midfield due to his offset in the stops, gaining a massive time-advantage with the safety car.
        Mercedes could have opted to keep both cars out on track during the SC period, but they had a “free stop advantage”. These stops went all wrong, and “cost” them their certain and easy win. Perfect storm or staged to protect F1 from being a complete 2 horse race in 2020, I’ll let it up to those who know all details. Personally I don’t buy the slow puncture story completely.

  10. Both Perez and Russel were head and shoulders above everyone else on the grid yesterday. Look at how quickly Perez overtook everyone after the first pit stop. It would have been brilliant to see both of them go head to head for the victory today but I feel Perez would have prevailed. It seemed similar to Monza where Sainz was marginally faster than Gasly but not enough to overtake him.

    Also realized that the similarity with Monza extended further. Both drivers were chasing their 1st wins. The guy in 1st did get lucky with the Saftety car / red flag timing and guy in 2nd got disadvantaged by the same.

  11. Perez did win on merit. With a bit of luck. To finish 1st, first you have to finish.. As the saying goes. Crashing out, retiring, dnfs, pit screw-ups, wrong tyres, punctures, engine failures, wrong race set up, bad start etc are all part of racing. If you lose by any of the above its all part of racing. Being in the right zone, right place, performing close to optimal, less mistakes, less issues, better car set up, faster car, more efficient on tyre preservation is also part of racing. Perez won on merit.

  12. My feeling at the time was that even if Perez had good straightline speed, Russell’s mediums would be so much better in the corners that it would be inevitable, just like Russell later said it felt like.

    Perez’ ‘on merit’ comment was a bit stretched though..

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