Sergio Perez claimed a sensational maiden Formula 1 victory for Racing Point after capitalising on a dramatic Mercedes tyre mix-up to win the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Mercedes looked in complete control with George Russell taking the lead from Valtteri Bottas at the start and pulling clear of the field in the opening stint, before a late Safety Car turned the race on its head.

Mercedes double-stacked its drivers under the Safety Car when Jack Aitken spun his Williams into the barriers in an attempt to cover off the threat from behind but a mix up of tyres in the pitlane ruined both its drivers’ races.

Russell had dominated in a mightily impressive performance on his first race appearance for Mercedes acting as a stand-in for Lewis Hamilton following the seven-time world champion’s positive COVID-19 test but was forced to make an unscheduled third stop after his crew fitted Bottas’ tyres to his car by mistake.

That dropped Russell back to fifth but the Briton brilliantly responded to the set-back by quickly charging back up to second on fresher tyres, before suffering late heartbreak with a rear-left puncture which meant he had to stop again.

The disaster for Mercedes opened the door for Perez to seal an incredible first career win for both himself and Racing Point, having taken full advantage of the chaos to win in his 190th grand prix start.

Perez, who is without a drive after being dropped by Racing Point in favour of Sebastian Vettel, was in last place at the end of the opening lap after being spun around by Charles Leclerc in a dramatic start, but remarkably charged through the field to take an unlikely win.

Renault’s Esteban Ocon scored the first podium of his F1 career with a brilliant second place, ahead of Lance Stroll, who completed the rostrum to hand Racing Point a huge boost in the race for third place in the constructors’ championship.

Carlos Sainz finished fourth for McLaren, ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon, who took sixth in the lead Red Bull.

Seventh place went the way of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, while Bottas dropped back to eighth after suffering severe tyre degradation late on on his old compounds.

Russell put in a late charge to recover from 15th to claim ninth place, but collecting his first points in F1 will do little to consolidate the Briton after seeing first-ever victory slip through his fingers.

McLaren’s Lando Norris took the final point on offer in 10th as he fought back from the back of the grid to complete the top-10.

How a certain win fell away for Mercedes

Mercedes called its cars in for a pit stop when a Virtual Safety Car was upgraded to a full Safety Car on Lap 63.

Russell suffered a slow pit stop and was sent back out on a mixed set of Mediums and ultimately had to be called back in to the pits a lap later, while Bottas’ stop was also heavily delayed as the team realised its error and had to swap the Finn back onto his previous set of Hards.

The calamitous double-stack opened the door for Perez, who had just pulled off overtakes on teammate Stroll and Ocon, to move into the lead at the restart having made his own stop prior to the Virtual Safety Car.

Adding to Russell's pain came a late puncture from debris having fought his way back up to second place and got within 2 seconds of Perez, forcing the Briton to stop for a third time and take him out of contention for a deserved maiden win. 

Perez scampered clear when the race restarted in a 20-lap sprint to the finish to secure an incredible win a week after he lost a podium in Bahrain after suffering a late engine failure.

FULL RACE RESULTS FROM THE 2020 F1 SAKHIR GRAND PRIX.