Sundays in Mexico are by Checo Pérez. The pilot, the most important sportsman in his country these days, has scored a second place in the Bahrain Grand Prix, at the beginning of the season. Thus, the Red Bull driver achieved his 27th podium in the thirteen years he has been in Formula 1. In front of Pérez, when not, Max Verstappen was the winner and third place was obtained by former world champion Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari left a Charles Leclerc with a broken heart who had to leave the race and paves the way for Red Bull to impose, once again, a dynasty.
Pérez showed a good understanding of the new Red Bull from pre-season testing and this weekend’s practice sessions in Bahrain. His times placed him among the three best times along with Verstappen and Alonso. In this Sunday’s start, the Mexican started from second place where he found himself with the tough task of defending himself against the two Ferraris. The Mexican was left with a pale face as Leclerc stuck to his left and snatched from him in second. It was not the ideal setting for those of the red buffalo.
Bad braking by Leclerc caused his Ferrari to lose the advantage against the Mexican, who put good pressure on him, but the Italian team was superior in top speed, one of its greatest advantages at the start of the year. Everything remained, at that moment, to trust the tire change strategy. On lap 14, the two Ferraris renewed their tires before the two Red Bulls. Verstappen did the same a lap later, but the Mexican was left on the track as partial leader. There, the one from Guadalajara had to take care of the life of his wheels until he found a good opportunity to not lose distance against the Ferraris. It was on lap 18 when he went to the pits and on his return to the track he stayed behind Leclerc, as at the start, although Pérez began to record the best lap times.
On lap 26, Leclerc gave in to the power of Checo Pérez’s Red Bull who, thanks to his soft tyres, was able to open up a gap in front of the Monegasque. Strategies in the pits were crucial when Leclerc went to refresh his tires on lap 34 and a few kilometers later Pérez did the same. That kept the positions with Verstappen, Pérez and Leclerc. The Ferrari man, however, was left without a car when he lost power with less than 20 laps to go. The scene was reminiscent of what the Monegasque lived last year when, due to team and car errors, the opportunity to be world champion escaped him. Pérez had to take care of his times and avoid overheating the tires. Any tragedy is welcome in a sport like Formula 1, but this time Red Bull did not have problems as it did last year on this same track when its two drivers withdrew from the race due to car failures.
Verstappen and Pérez, a duo that has worked since 2021, took the lead. Third place was obtained by Fernando Alonso, who revalidated his performance shown in practice. Bahrain is also a country with pleasant surprises for Checo Pérez, who in 2020 won his first Formula 1 race aboard the then Racing Point (now Aston Martin) at the Sakhir Grand Prix. He now drenches himself in champagne again to show his bosses that, at 33, he is still a reliable driver despite the insistent pressure of being the second driver at Red Bull.
The 27 prize races for Checo Pérez
Sergio Pérez, the best Mexican driver in history in terms of numbers, reached his twenty-seventh podium in Formula 1. He celebrates four victories: Shakhir 2020, Baku in 2021, Monaco and Singapore in 2022. In addition to 11 second places (Malaysia and Italy in 2012, Turkey in 2020, Australia, Imola, Spain, Baku, Great Britain, Belgium and Japan in 2022, plus second place in Bahrain in 2023) and 12 third places (Canada, in 2012; Bahrain, in 2014; Russia, in 2015, Monaco and Baku in 2016 and 2018, at the Grand Prix of France, Turkey, the United States, Mexico City in 2021 and 2022 and Abu Dhabi in 2022).
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