Sergio Perez won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, which became his maiden Formula One victory. The Racing Point driver had a horrible first lap with his involvement in a crash with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Following this accident, both Verstappen for Red Bull and Leclerc for Ferrari retired from the race, while Perez recovered and started his race all over again from P18. Esteban Ocon with Renault got his first career Formula One podium by finishing 2nd today. Ocon’s pit stop strategy gave him an advantage over the other midfield drivers towards the end of the race, which turned out to be enough for this podium. Perez’ teammate Lance Stroll completed the top 3, which brought a nice double podium for the team.
It is important to note that Sergio is still one of the few drivers without a contract for next season. This victory, however, undoubtedly shows his qualities as a driver, and might potentially boost his chances to become Verstappen’s teammate in Red Bull as soon as 2021.
Carlos Sainz with McLaren finished 4th, while Daniel Ricciardo came in P5 for Renault. Red Bull’s Alex Albon failed to impress once again and finished 6th, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat in P7. Albon’s contract is up at the end of this season, and it should not come as a surprise if next week’s race becomes his last Formula One entry, at least for the near future.
Lando Norris with McLaren finished in P10, followed by AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in P11. Sebastian Vettel with Ferrari did not have a particularly good race, which was already expected when considering the car’s performance on this high-speed track. Vettel finished 12th, ahead of the two Alfa Romeo drivers, Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen in P13 and P14, respectively. Kevin Magnussen came in 15th for Haas, ahead of the two rookies for the weekend. Jack Aitken with Williams managed to finish the race despite his light crash into the wall just feet before the pit lane entry. His teammate Nicholas Latifi retired from the race due to a mechanical problem. Aitken placed 16th, while Haas’ rookie Pietro Fittipaldi came in last in P17. Fittipaldi became the first grandson of a former Formula One driver (Emerson Fittipaldi) to have participated in a Grand Prix weekend.
MERCEDES DISASTER: George Russell started from 2nd on the grid but it only took him 1 turn to get ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Later on, Mercedes dominated the race by opening a 30+ second gap to the rest of the grid. Both of their first pit stops went as usual with Russell leading Bottas by 8 seconds right after both of them had pitted. On lap 62 out of 87, Williams’ Jack Aitken spun on the last corner of the lap and hit the barrier, which detached his front wing. This caused the safety car to come out, and Mercedes decided to double-stack with a second pit stop. This time, however, the outcome was catastrophic to their race. The mechanics put some of Bottas’ tires on Russell’s car, which left Bottas stationary for 27 seconds.
Even though Russell managed to come out in the lead, he was asked to enter the pits again so that they would install the correct tires and avoid penalties. After that, Russell came out in 5th, behind his teammate Bottas who had come out in P4. Russell’s newer tires gave him an advantage after the green flag was waved and he quickly progressed to 2nd place in pursuit of Perez for the win. However, just under 10 laps before the end Russell got a puncture in his left rear tire, which forced him into the pits for the fourth time today. He came out in 15th but his quick pace allowed him to pass several more drivers. Ultimately Russell finished in P9, scoring his maiden F1 points, including the additional point he got from setting the fastest lap of the race. Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas has plunged to P8 and was lacking pace because of his worn out tires.
Note: George Russell is substituting for Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes. The 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix became the first Formula One race without Lewis Hamilton’s participation since the 2007 Australian Grand Prix. Lewis tested positive for Covid-19 just days ago. Whether he will be allowed to enter the next GP weekend in Abu Dhabi depends solely on his health condition and medical results.
Fastest lap: George Russell – 55.404
You can access the complete race results by clicking on this LINK.