BWT Racing Point Formula One Team’s Sergio Checo Perez says it is still sinking in after the Mexican driver took his maiden Grand Prix victory in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit and in doing so has moved into fourth place in drivers championship with just one race remaining this season in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Perez who started the race from fifth place fell to the rear of the field on the opening lap of the race following contact with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen but recovered to score victory in his 190th Grand Prix.
Speaking following the race, Perez who became the first Mexican Grand Prix winner in 50 years commented saying:
It’s still sinking in that I’ve won the race; I’m almost afraid to get too excited in case I’m dreaming! I’ve dreamed about this moment so many times. It’s taken 10 years to get to this point in Formula 1. There’s been a lot of hard work throughout my career and it’s not just been me, but my family and sponsors too. Success for Mexico in Formula 1 has been rare, so I will never forget the moment of seeing the Mexican flag on the podium, it was an incredible moment for me and my family. It was an unbelievable race. We made such a good start to battle with Max [Verstappen] and Charles [Leclerc] and then I got hit and I was thinking ‘this can’t be happening again!’. We were lucky not to pick up any more damage too. We didn’t give up and we pitted to go onto the medium tyre. I then had a lock-up under the safety car and flat-spotted one of my tyres. The vibration became so bad it was hurting my hands to grip the steering wheel and I thought we might have to pit again – but the team told me to stay out. The feeling in the car got much better and the medium tyre stint ended up being crucial to our win. When we stopped for a second time and got onto the hard tyre, it felt like a limousine to drive! It was so smooth and we had some great pace. I was able to overtake Lance and then get past Esteban. Obviously, the Mercedes had some problems, but I think we had enough pace in hand to hold George off – our simulation showed that you needed to be significantly faster to get by. Luck or not, we had a tremendous race today and we won on merit. I was crying behind the wheel and speechless for a while but it’s an incredible result for the team. Well done to Lance for getting on the podium too. I can’t wait to celebrate with the team! We have one race left and we’re determined to hold onto P3 at the end of the season.
It was also a great night for Lance Stroll who started the race from tenth place and came through the field to finish the race on the podium in third place to claim his second podium of the season and speaking following the race he commented saying:
It’s a great result but a little part of me is a bit disappointed because I think I had the potential to win the race. After the first lap, we were in P6 and I knew we had a chance at a podium. I think we perhaps pitted a lap too late and that allowed Esteban [Ocon] to get ahead – but only after a really great battle until the exit of Turn 3 when he got the DRS effect. I didn’t have the pace to get by Esteban and then I was also a little late on the DRS, which helped Checo get by at Turn 4. I braked a little too late and he was then past me. It’s one of those things, but the important thing is the team result. I’m delighted for the team and so happy for Checo. He’s been a part of this team for a long time. He’s been running up at the front so many times in his career and he totally deserves a victory. It’s an unbelievable result for the team to get both cars on the podium and it’s exactly what we needed to bounce back from last weekend. We’ve had a great car all season and it was really strong this weekend and we delivered when it matters. I’m really excited about our potential and we’ll be looking to end the season on a high in Abu Dhabi
BWT Racing Point Formula One Team Principal and CEO Otmar Szafnaur commented on the race saying:
What an incredible day for the team: we delivered under pressure to get a massive result. Not many teams and drivers can say they went from P18 to P1, but we certainly can! Checo bounced back from the lap one crash and after his lock-up on his new mediums under the safety car, we managed the situation with him and overcame the vibration to keep him out on track. That proved crucial to our chances of winning. Both sides of the garage did a superb job and Lance drove incredibly well to get P3. It’s another podium for Lance and he’s still a young driver who’s constantly improving. Checo’s win puts him back in P4 in the Drivers’ Championship, which I think speaks volumes. With his and Lance’s points, we are in better shape for the Constructors’ Championship battle for third with one race remaining. Today has been a huge team effort and we really demonstrated that this week. After a really tough weekend last time out with both cars damaged, the boys and girls back at Silverstone delivered by working day and night to ensure we had all the parts we needed for this weekend. That’s what Formula 1 is all about: it’s teamwork. But for now, there’s a great Mexican restaurant at the hotel, we’ll be celebrating with Checo and Lance before heading to Abu Dhabi!
The result of the race means that the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team have moved ahead of McLaren Racing into third place in the Constructors championship on 194 points with just one race remaining next weekend with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and it was the first win for the Silverstone based outfit since the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix when the team was known as Jordan Grand Prix.
Speaking about the result, team owner Lawrence Stroll commented saying:
When we took over this team, we knew we were taking over an operation that has always punched above its weight and delivered on a much smaller budget than our rivals. Today’s result isn’t a huge surprise considering this team in the past was able to deliver P4 in the Constructors’ Championship in back-to-back seasons. When I arrived, it was about giving the team the funding it deserved and working with the outstanding core staff to allow the team to continue to flourish. The 400-plus members of the team can be hugely proud of their efforts and we’ll continue expanding to ensure this outfit continues to be competitive and in the hope that we celebrate more days like today in the future! Checo drove an exceptional race and he has been a hugely important part of the team’s history, while Lance also drove very well to ensure the double podium.