Perez takes his first victory as Mercedes messed up pitstop

Sergio Perez took a brilliant win for Racing Point in Formula 1’s Sakhir Grand Prix after a messy Mercedes pitstop and then a puncture cost long-time leader George Russell his dream result.

Esteban Ocon finished second for Renault ahead of Lance Stroll’s Racing Point, with the Mercedes cars down in eighth and ninth – Valtteri Bottas, also delayed significantly in the pitstop fiasco, in front of Russell.

Perez also faces a post-race investigation over a lap one incident that eliminated Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, in which Perez was spun around and fell to the rear of the field.

At the start, Bottas and Russell launched in unison from the front row, but Bottas was slower in the second phase and Russell pulled alongside, with Max Verstappen having a look in between them.

Russell seized the lead at the apex of Turn 1, with Bottas forced wide and then sliding at the entry for Turn 2, which let Russell run free and bunched the pack up behind.

This ended in contact at Turn 4 – the right from the traditional Bahrain Grand Prix layout where the drivers then sweep quickly left to start the outer loop – despite Verstappen braking early behind Bottas and the attacking Perez on the outside.

Bottas locked up but stayed clear in second, as Perez swept into the Turn 4 apex and collided with a locked up Leclerc, who suffered a broken left-front in the contact while the Racing Point was spun around.

Verstappen stayed free of contact but seemed to carry too much speed through the gravel trap beyond Turn 4 and he slid into the barriers and out, with the safety car deployed immediately.

The race resumed at the start of lap seven of 87, with Russell already well clear as he crossed the safety car control line and Bottas under pressure from Carlos Sainz, who had risen to third in the first lap chaos.

Sainz attacked Bottas into Turn 1 and held on around the outside take second, but he slid out of Turn 2 and cut the oncoming Turn 3 kink, which allowed Bottas back to second.

At the end of the first lap back at full speed, Russell had a lead of 1.1 seconds, which he set about extending as the Mercedes drivers were the only ones to run in the low 58 seconds.

This quickly pulled them well clear of Sainz, who headed a train of runners during the opening phase of the race, before Bottas was able to stabilise the gap when it reached 2.4 seconds on lap 17.

Bottas edged back towards Russell as the Mercedes drivers were told they were well over their target for stopping before George was able to extend his lead again approaching one-third distance.

As the rest of the top ten runners, most of whom had started on softs compared to the mediums on the Black Arrows, stopped, the two leaders were soon lapping backmarkers, which caused the gap between them to fluctuate.

Russell’s lead was 3.1 seconds when he came in to change to the hards at the end of lap 45, with Bottas left out for a further four laps.

Despite a scare with a sensor issue, which caused Russell to report “no power” on his out-lap, the significant undercut factor meant Russell’s lead ballooned to 8.5 seconds at the end of Bottas’s out-lap.

Both Mercedes drivers were then warned about the loads their left-front track rods were taking through the punishing Turns 7/8 chicane, before a virtual safety car was called when Nicholas Latifi pulled over on the inside of Turn 8 and retired due to a suspected oil leak.

Bottas had cut Russell’s lead to under five seconds with strong pace on his new hards either side of the VSC, but the race was then turned on its head when a second safety car was called after Jack Aitken spun off at the final corner and wiped the nose off his Williams.

A second VSC was upgraded to the full safety car so the debris could be recovered and Mercedes called its cars in for what turned out to be a calamitous double-stack stop.

After Russell had a slightly slow change he was sent out with a mixed set of mediums and had to be called in again a lap later, while Bottas lost nearly half a minute waiting as the team realised the error and sent him back out on the same hard tyres he had taken at his first stop.

The Mercedes pitstop gaffe meant that Perez, who had pitted for hards before the first VSC has he quickly recovered up the order following his first lap off, led ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll – as those that had been following Mercedes had come in during the Latifi VSC.

The race restarted again on lap 69, with Perez romping clear as Russell ran behind Bottas before nipping up to P5 when his teammate ran deep at Turn 4 on lap 70, which left Russell with the chance to muscle his way by over the bumps into the chicane.

Russell the quickly dispatched Stroll and Ocon on successive laps shortly afterwards, which left him with a 3.4 seconds gap to close to Perez.

The Briton set a series of fastest laps, but then a left-rear slow puncture forced Mercedes to stop him for a fourth time – for softs – and dropped him out of contention.

Perez had kept up his pace and pulled away from Ocon over the rest of the race and came home to take a sensational first F1 win by 10.5 seconds.

Sainz finished fourth as Bottas’s faded badly on his hard tyres, slipping down the just before Russell had to pit for his puncture.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth ahead of Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat, then came the Mercedes cars.

Russell had rejoined from his final stop in P14, but was able to use his softs to scythe back up the order and claim his first F1 points finish.

Lando Norris completed the top 10 ahead of Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel.

Aitken and Pietro Fittipaldi finished their first Formula 1 races in P16 and P17 at the rear of the field.

So an exciting and dramatic race. Congratulations to Sergio Perez in winning his first Formula 1 race. It was an epic fightback from Checo to come through the field following a spin on lap 1. To take victory for Racing Point is a magnificent result. Do feel sorry for George Russell, who led the early part of this race. But the double stacking pitstop went wrong and a late puncture ruined the chance to score a victory or podium. At least Russell was able to score a championship point with a top ten finish. This is racing.

Sahkir Grand Prix, race results:

1 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:31:15.114
2 Esteban Ocon Renault 10.518
3 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 11.869
4 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 12.580
5 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 13.330
6 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 13.842
7 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 14.534
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15.389
9 George Russell Mercedes 18.556
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 19.541
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 20.527
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22.611
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 24.111
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 26.153
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 32.370
16 Jack Aitken Williams-Mercedes 33.674
17 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 36.858
– Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes –
– Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda –
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari –

6 thoughts to “Perez takes his first victory as Mercedes messed up pitstop”

  1. Sakhir Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Sergio Perez’s F1 future may be uncertain – but whatever happens, the Mexican is now an F1 winner, after he benefitted from a nightmare Sakhir Grand Prix for Mercedes to claim his first ever Formula 1 victory, as Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll completed the podium on a wild evening in Bahrain.

    It had initially looked as though George Russell was set to pull off an incredible maiden victory on his first outing for Mercedes, having aced the start to lead pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas for the majority of the Grand Prix. But Mercedes gave Russell the wrong tyres when he was pitted under a Safety Car on Lap 63 of 87, forcing another pit stop to correct the error – while Russell then suffered a puncture that left him P9 at the flag for what was at least his first ever F1 points finish.

    On his 190th F1 start, Perez had been forced to pit at the end of Lap 1, dropping to last place after getting caught up in a Turn 4 crash that eliminated Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, and was due to be investigated after the race.

    But an incredible turn of pace from the Mexican allowed him to benefit from Mercedes’ pit error – which also left Valtteri Bottas on old hard tyres, the Finn coming home P8 – to sensationally claim his and Racing Point’s first ever victory, a week after an MGU-K failure had robbed him of a podium.

    After a difficult return to F1, Renault’s Ocon claimed his first ever podium finish in the sport, with Stroll holding off a charging Carlos Sainz to take his second rostrum of the year, ahead of the McLaren driver and Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo in P5.

    Alex Albon was P6 in the sole surviving Red Bull, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat.

    The Mercedes pair of Bottas and Russell in their P8 and P9 positions led home the second McLaren of Lando Norris, who took the final point of what was a stunning evening in Sakhir.

    George Russell said that, starting P2, he would be happy if he reached the first corner in the top four, so circumspect was the Briton about the chances of getting the start procedure right in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W11.

    He’d do better than that, enjoying a perfect launch to head the pack into Turn 1 ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The two Mercedes had crowded out the Red Bull of Max Verstappen going into Turn 1 – but as Russell scampered off at the front, Bottas ran wide at Turn 2, with Verstappen and the fast-starting Perez going line astern of the Finn as they charged down to Turn 4.

    Verstappen was on the brakes early, but as Bottas made the corner, an opportunistic Charles Leclerc launched an attack up the inside of Perez at Turn 4. But the Monegasque failed to get his Ferrari slowed down sufficiently, banging into the Racing Point and spinning him around, as Leclerc – with left-front suspension damage – slithered into the wall.

    Verstappen had taken avoiding action of the incident, but rolled onto the gravel and slid pathetically into the wall and out of the race himself, the Dutchman kicking the barriers in frustration after exiting his stricken Red Bull.

    That exciting opening gambit brought out the Safety Car, neutralising the field with the top 10 Russell, Bottas, Sainz – up from eighth to third – Ricciardo, Kvyat, Stroll, Gasly, Ocon, Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris – who’d moved up from P19 to P10. Meanwhile, Raikkonen had also spun on Lap 1, putting him P17, one place ahead of Perez, who’d pitted for mediums after his contact with Leclerc, rejoining P18 and last – and with what looked like a long evening ahead of him just to try and recover some points.

    Having nailed the start, Russell now needed to do the same at the Safety Car restart on Lap 7. He did so, helped by a charging Sainz filling the mirrors of Bottas, allowing Russell to escape once again at the front, as Sainz briefly got in front of Bottas before running wide at Turn 2 and allowing the Finn back past.

    Perez, meanwhile, was a driver on the move, the Mexican jumping up from P18 to be P11 by Lap 15, and relishing in the high top speed of his Racing Point RP20 at the power sensitive Sakhir Outer Track. Perez was up into the points by Lap 20 as he followed Red Bull’s Alex Albon through on Lando Norris to claim P10, with Perez then passing Albon a lap later at Turn 5 for P9 – Albon complaining to Red Bull that he was faster than the Racing Point, but that he was unable to race it.

    Russell was doing a masterful job of leading out the front, quickly establishing and then maintaining a two-second gap to Bottas behind, the two Mercedes quickly gapping the rest of the field without the usual thorn of Verstappen in their side following the Dutchman’s exit.

    Behind, Carlos Sainz had managed to lap fast enough to break the DRS chain of the fourth-placed Ricciardo, McLaren pitting him on Lap 28 and maintaining the Spaniard’s advantage as he slotted back into P7, while AlphaTauri’s Kvyat managed to undercut Ricciardo and get ahead of the Australian.

    With the laps ticking by quickly around the 2.2-mile Outer Track, with the halfway point reached by Lap 44, the order was Russell, 3s clear of Bottas – the Mercedes yet to stop, having been the only cars to start on the mediums in the top 10 – with Perez third, after his Lap 1 stop, Albon fourth having yet to pit after starting P12 on the mediums, with Sainz fifth, Kvyat sixth, Ricciardo seventh, Pierre Gasly eighth, with Ocon ninth after passing Stroll when the Racing Point exited from the pits.

    Russell was brought in by Mercedes on Lap 45, emerging P2 after taking on the hard tyre. After a brief worry when he feared he was losing power – remedied by a switch change – Russell got on with it, to the extent that by the time Bottas came in for the same tyre four laps later, the Finn emerged eight seconds down on his new team mate, and presumably wondering what he had to do to win a race in the latter half of this season.

    Lap 55 saw the Williams of Nicholas Latifi pull to the side of the track and out of the race, with McLaren and Renault pitting Sainz and Ricciardo out of third and fourth under a Virtual Safety Car. The timing didn’t quite work out though, with green-flag racing resuming just as they headed into their boxes, leaving them P7 and P8 – although Ricciardo had at least jumped Kvyat in the stops, the Russian now P9 after his own second stop.

    Perez, meanwhile, was on the move once more, passing his team mate for P4, before quickly getting past Ocon for P3. A second Safety Car of the evening was then called for when Jack Aitken got a swapper on at the final corner, wiping the front wing off his Williams and ducking into the pits for a new one.

    Given their sizeable advantage, Mercedes made the call to pit both Russell and Bottas – a call which saw their evening quickly began to unravel. Russell was out quickly, but there was confusion as Bottas was changed onto mediums and then back onto his hards, the Finn sent back out 27s later.

    It initially looked as though Bottas’ race had been ruined while Russell now had a clear run to victory. But worse was to come for the Briton, who was told to pit again, Mercedes having fitted Russell with Bottas’ mediums by mistake.

    Russell rejoined the neutralised race fifth, one spot behind Bottas, with Perez, Ocon and Stroll now in the podium places. “You should have a big tyre advantage,” race engineer Pete Bonnington told Russell. “I ****ing hope so,” came the sanguine response of the naturally disappointed Russell, who appeared to have seen a fine evening’s work undone.

    At the restart on Lap 69, Perez led the pack away beautifully, quickly gapping Ocon behind. Russell had at least got fresher rubber than his team mate now, and was quickly past Bottas on Lap 70 with a beautiful move around the outside into Turn 6, before charging through on Stroll and Ocon and up into P2, Russell looking as though he might even be able to salvage that first victory as he set off after Perez. Then he got a puncture.

    Russell uttered a guttural scream as he pitted for the fourth time of the evening, emerging P15. With both Mercedes out of the picture, it was simply left to Perez to enjoy a smooth run to an astonishing maiden victory, at what could yet be his penultimate Grand Prix in Formula 1.

    The Racing Point pit wall erupted, while in the cockpit of the RP20, an emotional Perez was in tears as he thanked the team that helped to salvage his career when he joined them back in 2014.

    There were more tears to come too, Ocon confessing that he too hadn’t been able to hold back the emotions as he’d crossed the line to score his first podium in the sport after a trying return to F1 in 2020. Stroll taking third, meanwhile, secured a double podium for Racing Point for good measure, the team leaping back to P3 in the constructors’ standings – while Perez moved clear in the fight for P4 in the drivers’ championship too.

    Carlos Sainz at one point looked like he was set to take his second podium of the season, but eventually had to settle for what was nonetheless a fine fourth, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull’s Alex Albon – who will surely have felt the pressure get turned up a notch after Perez’s sensational P18 to P1 drive.

    Like Perez, Daniil Kvyat is another driver who might not have an F1 seat for 2021, but the Russian drove a solid Grand Prix to take seventh – ahead of the shame-faced Mercedes duo. Having been left on what were already 21-lap-old hard tyres, Bottas had humiliatingly sunk from P5 at the Safety Car restart to P8 by the time he reached the chequered flag, the Finn without the tyre life to resist the attacks from his midfield rivals.

    He at least finished ahead of Russell – something which had looked in serious doubt for much of the evening – with the Briton recovering from P15 to finish ninth at the flag, and claim his first three points in the sport, including one for the fastest lap. “It’s been a pleasure,” said a bewildered Russell over team radio at the race end, “but honestly, I’m gutted.” Toto Wolff was quick to offer an apology to the 22-year-old, after what he’d described as a “brilliant drive” from Russell – and a “colossal f*** up” from Mercedes, with Russell finishing just one place ahead of the second McLaren of Norris.

    Mercedes’ misfortune, however, meant that after 190 starts, Sergio Perez was finally a race winner in Formula 1. It was another shock result thrown up by this astonishing 2020 season – and surely there wasn’t a soul in the F1 paddock who could have begrudged the Mexican the spoils of victory… at last.

  2. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez says shock Sakhir Grand Prix victory was on merit. has the full story.

    Sergio Perez feels his shock maiden Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix came on merit after capitalising on Mercedes’ errors to win the race for Racing Point.

    Perez ran last at the end of the opening lap after being hit by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at Turn 4, but was able to fight his way back up the order for Racing Point.

    Perez sat third before the safety car was deployed after Williams’ Jack Aitken hit the wall and left his front wing at the final corner, prompting Mercedes to try and pit both of its cars.

    But a tyre mix-up saw it send George Russell – who had led the race up to the safety car – out on a mixed set of tyres, and then fail to change Valtteri Bottas’s tyres in a lengthy pitstop.

    It catapulted Perez into the lead for Racing Point for the restart with 19 laps to go, but the Mexican looked set to come under pressure from the recovering Russell in the closing stages.

    A puncture caused Russell to drop down the order once again as he pitted for a fourth time, leaving Perez to cruise home ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll.

    It marked Perez’s first win since the 2010 GP2 Feature Race in Abu Dhabi, and marks a new record for the most number of F1 starts before a maiden victory, coming at the 190th attempt.

    “I’m speechless,” Perez said. “I hope I’m not dreaming, because I’ve dreamt for so many years of being in this moment, 10 years it took me – incredible,” said Perez.

    “I don’t know what to say. After the first lap, the race was again gone, same as last weekend. But it was about not giving up, recovering, going through it, just making the best we possibly could.

    “This season the luck hasn’t been with us this year but we finally got it.

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

    Perez revealed that an error after his first lap pitstop left him struggling with a tyre vibration, only for his car to come alive after another stop, allowing him to pick off Ocon and Stroll shortly before the second safety car period.

    “I made a big mistake during the safety car, I locked up my front left tyre badly,” Perez explained.

    “So during my first stint, I had so much vibration. But as soon as I recovered in the second stint, I told my team this car felt just like a limousine, so easy without the vibrations.

    “We had tremendous pace. And then I think we read really well the race throughout the weekend. We came here thinking it was going to be a two-stop, but after my long run on Friday, we knew what we had to do today.”

    The victory comes in Perez’s penultimate appearance for Racing Point ahead of his exit at the end of the year.

    The Mexican is currently without a drive for 2021, and has already said he will take a sabbatical before returning in 2022 if he does not land the seat at Red Bull.

    Asked if the win strengthened his resolve over his plans for next year, Perez said: “It just gives me a more peace with myself, to be honest. 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 in the grid next year, I will be back in 2022.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen calls Charles Leclerc’s lap 1 move as “reckless”. has the full details.

    Max Verstappen called Charles Leclerc’s Turn 4 move in the Sakhir Grand Prix “reckless” after an incident forced both drivers to retire on the opening lap of the race.

    Leclerc, Verstappen and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez were left jostling for position on the straight from Turn 3 to Turn 4 on the first lap, going three-wide at one point.

    But as Leclerc dived up the inside of Verstappen at Turn 4, the Ferrari driver locked up and ran into Perez ahead, sending both cars spinning.

    Verstappen was forced wide as a result of the spins, running into the gravel and crashing into the wall at the exit of Turn 4, putting him out of the race.

    Leclerc was also eliminated, while Perez dropped to the back of the order and was forced to pit on the opening lap behind the resulting safety car.

    “The start wasn’t bad, but of course, Valtteri [Bottas] squeezed, which is normal, so I had to back out,” Verstappen explained.

    “From there onwards, it was all about surviving in-between the cars. I don’t know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless. We are all up in the front, and at the end of the day now, three cars basically were the victim of that, two cars heavily.

    “I don’t really know why, especially Charles in Turn 4, why he dives up the inside like that, especially to brake that late as well. What do you expect?

    “Checo cannot see what is happening on the inside, and he basically just locked his wheel and understeered into him.

    “When Checo was spinning backwards, I tried to go around the outside, tried not to damage my car, but there’s nothing you can do there.”

    Leclerc explained that he thought Perez would hang his car out wide to try and pass Bottas for second place, only to be caught out by how the Racing Point car came back across the track.

    “I was in fifth I think, and I was side-by-side, a bit behind Max I think, and tried to overtake him into Turn 4,” Leclerc said.

    “I had seen Checo, but I expected him to go around the outside of Valtteri and stay there, but I think he decided after to come back on the inside, and I was there.

    “It was too late for me to slow down. I don’t think it’s a mistake from Checo, I’m not putting the blame on Checo. If there’s anybody to blame today, it’s me.

    “But I would say it’s more unfortunate than blame.”

    When told that Leclerc had taken the blame, Verstappen replied: “As he should.”

    The stewards confirmed shortly after the incident they would be investigating the clash after the race.

  4. The Mercedes Formula 1 team is under investigation for two offences related to the pitstop mix-up in the Sakhir GP that delayed both George Russell and Valtteri Bottas.

    Russell and Bottas were running one-two when a crash for Jack Aitken left debris on the track at the exit of the last corner, and triggered a safety car.

    Both Mercedes drivers were called into the pits to give them fresh tyres for the restart, thus protecting them from any cars behind that pitted and fitted new rubber.

    Russell had a normal pitstop and exited safely, but after the stacked Bottas drove forward into the box and before he left, the mechanics realised that Russell’s tyres had been fitted at the front – so the stop was aborted and the hard tyres which Bottas had been using were fitted to the car again.

    Russell had left with the front tyres of Bottas on his car, and he was then told that he had an incorrect tyres fitted, and he came into the pits in the next lap for a fresh set, before rejoining the safety car queue.

    Russell eventually finished ninth, having been delayed further by a late puncture.

    “After the race, the FIA noted: “When car number 63 pitted for a tyre change at 21:16hrs, the team fitted on the front axle tyres allocated to car number 77.

    “Car number 63 left the pit lane and returned after one lap in order to fit a correctly allocated set of tyres. As this is not in compliance with Articles 24.2 a) and 24.3 e), I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”

    Speaking to Sky F1 after the race team boss Toto Wolff said: “For us it was just a colossal f**k-up.

    “Simply one of the car crews didn’t hear the call, we had a radio failure in the garage, and when the car came in, then we didn’t know that we had to change the tyres, or put the wrong tyres, and this is why we exited with the wrong set of tyres. Then we had to obviously pit again.”


  5. Mercedes driver George Russell commented that losing victory twice in Bahrain “really bloody hurt”. has the news story.

    George Russell admitted that losing out on a maiden Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix “really bloody hurt” following a tyre mix-up and a late puncture.

    In his first appearance standing in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, Russell dominated the majority of the race after taking the lead from teammate Valtteri Bottas at Turn 1.

    Russell sat over five seconds clear of Bottas following their sole planned pitstops, only for a safety car period to be called and neutralise the race.

    Mercedes tried to double-stack its cars in the pits, only to mix up the tyres and place a set meant for Bottas’ car onto Russell’s.

    This forced the team to pit Russell again, dropping him to fifth for the restart, and has also sparked a post-race investigation from the stewards.

    Russell managed to fight his way back up to second, and was closing on race leader Sergio Perez, only to suffer a puncture that forced him to pit again.

    The British driver fought his way back to ninth place, and picked up an additional point for the fastest lap of the race.

    “I’ve had races where I’ve had victories taken away from me, but twice, I couldn’t believe it,” said Russell.

    “I couldn’t believe what was happening. I drove my heart out, I had the race under control, especially in the beginning, and then obviously the safety car came out, which was annoying.

    “But I felt comfortable. I put some good overtakes, I was fired up, I was ready to chase Sergio to get the win back, and it would have been tight, but we would have done it.

    “And then it went away from us again. So that’s racing.”

    Russell acknowledged it had been a rollercoaster of emotions across the race weekend, and that he was quick to talk to his parents after the race to pick himself up.

    “If you’d told me at the start of this weekend I would have scored some points, I’d have said right, that’s going to be a pretty fantastic weekend!” Russell joked.

    “But if you’d told me I’d be leading the race, and then ended up… argh… I don’t know.

    “It really hurt, honestly, it really bloody hurt when I got out of the car.

    “I spoke to my parents straightaway. I know they were feeling it. They said you’ve got so much to be proud of. Same with Toto [Wolff] and James [Vowles] and Bono. We hugged it out.

    “So hopefully I’ve given Toto some problems to sort out for the future. I’m happy. I’m proud.”

  6. Mercedes reveals radio failure led to George Russell tyre mix-up. has the details.

    Toto Wolff has revealed a radio failure led to the tyre mix-up that cost George Russell a likely maiden Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

    In his first appearance for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s stand-in, Williams regular Russell dominated the majority of the race at the Bahrain International Circuit, taking the lead at the start.

    Russell built up a lead of almost three seconds over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas through the opening stint before pitting, and ran over five seconds clear after gaining more time though the pit cycle.

    But when the safety car was called on lap 59, Mercedes tried to double-stack its cars in the pits, only for the team to be slow in fitting Russell’s tyres.

    The pit crew released Russell, but found it had accidentally fitted the tyres meant for Bottas to the British driver’s car. As a result, Bottas had his existing hard tyres re-fitted before being released again.

    Asked by how the tyre mix-up happened, Mercedes team principal Wolff revealed that a radio issue meant the call had not come through to Russell’s side of the garage.

    “What happened is that when we called the pit crews out, they get a call on the radios and bring the right tyres out,” Wolff said.

    “One side of the garage, George’s side, didn’t hear the pit call.

    “We had a radio that didn’t function, and then the wrong guys with the wrong tyres came out.”

    Russell was forced to pit on the next lap to change back onto his own tyres, but is under investigation for running on Bottas’ compounds.

    “We knew immediately when Valtteri didn’t have his tyres, we knew that Valtteri’s tyres were on George’s car,” Wolff said.

    “We fitted Valtteri’s old hard tyre that we just took off to the car again, and we knew we needed to pit George again.”

    Despite the issues, Russell was still in a position to win the race in Sakhir, fighting back from fifth on the restart with 19 laps to go to sit second before a puncture forced another pitstop.

    Russell ultimately finished the race ninth, and admitted afterwards that the setbacks “really bloody hurt” after coming so close to a debut win for Mercedes.

    “The slow puncture probably came from him having to run off the line so many times in order to overtake,” said Wolff.

    “As for the race win? I don’t know. I think our planner said he would catch up to Sergio and maybe DRS would have helped us, but I’m not sure [if he would have won].

    “Sergio drove a brilliant, brilliant race, and deserves the race win because we made too many mistakes, and were unlucky with the puncture.”

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