The winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix
might have been Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, but without question the driver of the day and man of the hour was Sauber's Sergio Perez, who seized on the wildly changing conditions at Sepang and drove out of his skin to claim second place.
"It is a great day for me," he beamed. "The team did a very good job and I feel very happy for them. It is a really nice feeling to have been on the podium here!"
"What a great result!" said a still-stunned team owner Peter Sauber. "Sergio drove an outstanding race and rose above our expectations," he said, adding: "It was a great and important day for the team.
"What surprised me most was the fact that he was very competitive in all conditions and with all tyres," he continued. "Whether they were wet, intermediate or dry tyres he was always one of the fastest drivers on track if not the fastest."
"It was a very strong race for our team," said Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber's head of track engineering. "We made a good call on the weather conditions, and then Sergio took over. He drove a brilliant race. His pace was excellent on a wet and dry track."
As brilliant as second place was for the team, Perez couldn't help but mull over the missed opportunity for an even more famous success that had been so tantalisingly close.
"I think victory was also within reach," he said. "Twice in the race I was catching Fernando. On the final stint, when I was on the hard tyre compound, my tyres had degraded quite a lot. It wasn't easy and I went wide and touched a curb. I actually was lucky not to go off.
The off came shortly after Perez had been contacted over the team radio and told: "Checo, be careful, we need this position." The message seemed laden with some sort of deeper meaning, and commentators and conspiracy theorists kicked into high gear with speculation that Sauber were transmitting covert team orders to their driver.
Sauber's cars are powered by Ferrari
engines, and there would be no better way of screwing up a business partnership than by publicly embarrassing the senior party by blasting straight past them. But Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn denied that there were any such thoughts going on in the team at any point of the Grand Prix.