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Free agent Perez after first F1® win: I hope I'm not dreaming!

07/12/20

The Racing Point star does not have a confirmed seat for 2021.

Sergio Perez described how he had dreamed of his first Formula 1® win for 10 years after it finally arrived in his penultimate Grand Prix for Racing Point.

Perez, who is fourth in the drivers' standings but will be replaced by Sebastian Vettel when the team becomes Aston Martin next year, earned his breakthrough in his 190th start at the Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Mexican - second in Turkey as Lewis Hamilton claimed the title last month - span out on the opening lap yet recovered from the back of the field to lead the race after a Mercedes pit-stop mix-up cost George Russell.

A puncture then ended Russell's challenge entirely, a disappointing end to a week in which he deputised for Lewis Hamilton, to allow Perez to celebrate a precious triumph.

"I am speechless," the victor said on the podium. "I hope I am not dreaming because I dreamed for so many years being in this moment. Ten years it took me.

"I don't know what to say. After the first lap, the race was gone. It was all about not giving up.

"In the second run, I said to the team the car feels like a limousine. It feels so easy. We had tremendous pace and I think we did pretty well throughout the weekend.

"This season the luck hasn't been with us. I think we won it on merit. In end, the pace was strong enough to hold off George, who had a fantastic race today."

Despite sparkling this season, having never previously ended a campaign higher than seventh in the standings, Perez is without a drive for next year.

"[The win] gives me a bit more peace with myself," he said. "What happens is not so much in my hands. I want to keep going. If I am not on the grid next year, I will be back in 2022."

Team-mate Lance Stroll came third behind Esteban Ocon and added: "I'm so happy for Sergio. He has a couple of races left with the team. He has been up there for such a long time waiting for the win and it came this weekend."

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer was similarly delighted for his driver despite the imminent arrival of Vettel.

"What a great drive today from Sergio," Szafnauer told Sky Sports. "From last to first. What a great drive.

"He absolutely deserves to be in Formula 1®. He's done a great job all season and will hopefully gain fourth in the drivers' championship. He definitely deserves a place on the grid [next year]."