The Mexican Sergio Pérez became his country's first winner in a race of F1 in 50 years and barely dared to believe it, demanding a pinch to prove it wasn't just a dream.
After 190 starts in the top flight and in his penultimate race for Racing PointWith no team decided for next season, the 30-year-old found himself in a fantasy world under the spotlight of the race track. Sakhir in the desert of Bahrain.
"I am in shock. I don't want to be too excited because I dreamed of this moment so many times that when I wake up it hurts ”, he said after going from last position on the first lap to first place at the finish line.
“I have to make sure this is not a dream. I have dreamed of this moment for 10 years ”, added the Mexican pilot.
The last and only Mexican winner of a F.1 race before Pérez was the deceased Pedro Rodriguez, one of the two brothers who give its name to the circuit of Mexico City, in Belgium in 1970.
Checo had been close before, finishing second in Turkey last month, but never reaching the top echelon. He did it the hard way Sunday, pitting after a collision on the first lap and fighting from last place in a jaw-dropping victory that brought him to tears.
Pérez was helped by a rare error in the pit stop of Mercedes, who mixed up the Finn's tires Valtteri Bottas and English George Russell, the substitute for his compatriot Lewis Hamilton and who also suffered a late puncture.
“When they hit me in the first corner I thought 'not again', we can't be us again”, said about an incident that ended the race for the Dutchman Max Verstappen of Red Bull and the Monegasque Charles Leclerc from Ferrari.
“After the first lap the race was over, but it was about not giving up, recovering, going for it, doing the best we could. Luck has not been with us this year, but we finally got it and I think that today we won on merits ”, detailed the new winner.
"Being there at the top of the podium, listening to the Mexican anthem and looking at the flag at the top is something very special", concluded the Aztec.