It has taken Perez 190 begins earlier than securing victory, which lastly got here in a extremely entertaining race that appeared to be going the way in which of George Russell, one other driver chasing a maiden F1 win.
However the 22-year-old needed to pit twice late on — first when his staff knowledgeable him the fallacious set of tires had been placed on his automobile after which once more when he suffered a puncture — to rob him of victory.
Russell’s unhealthy luck was Perez’s achieve. The 30-year-old Perez is with out a staff for subsequent season having introduced in September that he could be leaving Racing Level regardless of signing a three-year contract in 2019.
It proved to be a shocking day for Racing Level, too, with Lance Stroll ending third — the Canadian’s third podium and the staff’s first-ever double podium.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon, in the meantime, positioned second to safe his first-ever podium.
“I am speechless, I hope I am not dreaming,” Perez mentioned after the race.
“Ten years it took me. Unimaginable … I do not know what to say … the luck hasn’t been with us this yr however we have lastly bought it and I believe we gained at the moment on benefit.”
Now dealing with a season with out a staff, Perez is assured he nonetheless has a future within the sport.
“It simply provides me a bit extra peace with myself, to be sincere,” he mentioned of the win. “What occurs shouldn’t be a lot in my fingers in the mean time, however I do know I wish to maintain going. If I am not within the grid subsequent yr, I will probably be again in 2022.”
Each Verstappen, arguably the pre-race favourite, and Leclerc had been compelled out of the race after the collision, however Perez rallied and shortly began gaining locations by means of the grid.
And when Mercedes selected to pit each Russell and Bottas throughout a security automobile interval, Perez moved into the lead.
He was beneath strain from a charging Russell within the closing levels, however the puncture price the Briton and noticed him drop to the again of the grid.
In a disappointing race for the normally dominant Mercedes, Russell ultimately completed ninth — his first championship factors in F1 — whereas Bottas completed eighth.
“For my well being and security, it’s higher I do not take the chance to race in Abu Dhabi,” Grosjean mentioned in a video posted on social media. “It’s a very troublesome determination, however it’s the finest one for my future.”