Perez scores Force India’s third F1 podium after late drama

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Sergio Perez scored just the third podium finish in Force India’s Formula 1 history after a late clash between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen allowed him to cross the line third in the Russian Grand Prix.

After qualifying seventh, Perez pitted early under the safety car in a bid to jump up the order with a long second stint on the prime tire.

It proved to be a stroke of genius as he vaulted up into third place ahead of the closing stages of the race, but was coming under heavy pressure from Bottas and Raikkonen behind.

On the penultimate lap of the race, both drivers managed to pass Perez as he struggled to find grip on his worn tires, dropping the Mexican down to fifth place.

However, when Raikkonen attempted an opportunistic pass on Bottas that saw him punted the Williams driver into the wall and sustain damage himself, Perez moved back up into third place on the last lap.

The result marked just the third podium finish in Force India’s F1 history, having debuted back in 2008. Perez has now been responsible for two, with his first for the team coming in Bahrain last year.

“It just feels great to be back with these [Force India] boys,” Perez said. “I’ve been enjoying so much my trip with all of them.

“One lap before the end, it seemed like everything went away from us. At that point, I was very unhappy with myself because many things come to your mind.

“But onto my last lap, I was like ‘I gave it all’, there was no more I could do, I had done plenty of laps with my tires, I had massive degradation on my front tires especially.

“In the last lap when they came togehter, it was amazing. It’s very nice to give my second podium to this team.”

The result sees Force India increase its advantage over Lotus in the race for fifth in the constructors’ championship to 28 points with four rounds of the season remaining.