Sergio Pérez clinched a sensational maiden win at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. The Mexican scored his first win in the 190th race start of his career and made up for the disappointment of losing a podium in the final laps of the previous race.
Esteban Ocon finished in second position for his maiden podium at this wild and chaotic race under the night skies in the desert. Lance Stroll joined his team-mate on the podium on a fabulous night for the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team.
The race was chaotic from start to finish. George Russell made a good start from second position to nose ahead of Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. As Bottas squirmed around, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Pérez were gaining at a rate of knots.
As Pérez tried to make the apex of Turn 4, Leclerc locked up on the inside and hit the Mexican whose RP20 was turned around. Verstappen tried to avoid the melee and went off the track and slid into the barrier.
The Safety Car was deployed (SC). Leclerc and Verstappen were out of the race. Pérez pitted for the medium compound tyres and rejoined in last place. The SC period ended at the end of lap 6.
The order at the SC restart was Russell, Bottas, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Ocon, Sebastian Vettel, Lando Norris, Alexande Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi, Jack Aitken, Pietro Fittipaldi, Kimi Räikkönen, Pérez.
Russell made a quick launch even as Bottas came under pressure from Sainz at the restart. On lap 8, Norris and Albon overtook Vettel to take ninth and tenth position. By lap 11, Pérez had overtaken Vettel for eleventh position as he advanced from the back of the field.
Russell held a steady lead of under 2 seconds to Bottas at the front. On lap 20, both Albon and Pérez overtook Norris to take ninth and tenth position. On the next lap, Norris pitted and rejoined in last position.
Pérez then got past Albon to take ninth position as he steadily advanced through the field. At the end of lap 25, the order was Russell, Bottas, Sainz, Ricciardo, Kvyat, Stroll, Gasly, Ocon, Pérez, Albon, Vettel.
From lap 28 on successive laps, Kvyat, Sainz and Gasly pitted. Ricciardo only pitted on lap 30 and was undercut by Kvyat.
Russell and Bottas on the medium compound tyres were comfortably in the lead of the race. Stroll, Ocon, Pérez and Albon were behind them and had not yet pitted. Sainz, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Gasly and Norris were behind them after their pit stops.
On lap 42, Ocon pitted for the hard compound tyres and rejoind in tenth position. On the next lap, Stroll pitted and exited just ahead of Ocon who overtook him in short order and this move proved decisive for the final positions.
On lap 45, Russell pitted for the hard compound tyres and rejoined in second position behind Bottas. On Lap 48, Pérez and Albon pitted. Finally Bottas pitted on lap 49 and rejoined more than eight seconds behind Russell.
On lap 52, Gasly started the second set of pit stops. On Lap 54, Latifi retired from the race and the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed. Norris and Vettel pitted under the VSC. But Sainz and Ricciardo pitted even as the VSC period ended and it cost them their positions as they rejoined in seventh and eighth positions.
By lap 58, Pérez had overtaken Stroll and Ocon to take third position behind the Mercedes drivers. Bottas had cut the lead to Russell to five seconds. Aitken spun and lost his front wing as he hit the barriers. The VSC was deployed and it was upgraded to a SC soon after.
The Mercedes team called in both Russell and Bottas to double-stack the drivers and chaos reigned. Russell was fitted the wrong set of tyres and sent out. When the Silver Arrows team realized the mistake as they fitted Bottas’s tyres, the Finn was held stationary as they refitted back the old hard tyres.
Bottas rejoined in fifth position. Russell was again called in to rectify the error and a brand new set of tyres were fitted. He rejoined in fifth position behind Bottas. Pérez had now inherited the lead with Ocon and Stroll behind him.
On the SC restart, Russell on his fresh tyres made short work of Bottas and was in second position and cutting the gap to Pérez by the end of lap 73.
With 14 laps to go, Russell was on a charge and cutting into Pérez’s race lead. Bottas had fallen to eighth position on his old tyres. But disaster struck again and Russell was pitted for a fourth time as he had a slow rear-left puncture and rejoined in fifteenth position.
Pérez steadily increased his lead to Ocon to over eight seconds and won comfortably in the end. After the disappointment of the last race when a power unit issue ended his race as he was running in the podium places, Pérez found redemption with his maiden win in Formula 1.
Ocon took his first podium of his career with a measured drive. Stroll completed the podium places on a stellar day for the Racing Point team.
Sainz who dueled with Stroll in the final laps had to be content with fourth position. Ricciardo took fifth position for a double-points finish for the Renault DP World F1 Team.
Albon and Kvyat finished in sixth and seventh positions. Bottas and Russell finished in eighth and ninth positions in a race that they should have finished in the top positions.
Even though bad luck scuppered Russell’s chances of a maiden win, the young Briton atleast scored the first points of his career. Russell also took an extra point for the fastest lap. Norris took the final solitary point of this dramatic race.
The season finale will take place next week at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as this Covid19 curtailed season comes to an end (Dec 11 -13 2020).
2020 SAKHIR GRAND PRIX RACE RESULTS:
|1||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||1:31:15.114||87||25|
|2||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Renault DP World F1 Team||+10.518s||87||18|
|3||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||BWT Racing Point Formula One Team||+11.869s||87||15|
|4||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||McLaren F1 Team||+12.580s||87||12|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Renault DP World F1 Team||+13.330s||87||10|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||+13.842s||87||8|
|7||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||+14.534s||87||6|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||+15.389s||87||4|
|9||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||+18.556s||87||3|
|10||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||+19.541s||87||1|
|11||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||+20.527s||87||0|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Scuderia Ferrari||+22.611s||87||0|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing||+24.111s||87||0|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||+26.153s||87||0|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||+32.370s||87||0|
|16||89||Jack Aitken||GBR||Williams Racing||+33.674s||87||0|
|17||51||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Haas F1 Team||+36.858s||87||0|
|NC||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||DNF||52||0|
|NC||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||DNF||0||0|
|NC||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||DNF||0||0|