RACE DEBRIEF

    For the time being at least, Sergio Perez finds himself without a Formula 1 seat for 2021, despite having won the Sakhir Grand Prix. The Mexican is now facing a year on the sidelines - something fellow podium-finisher, and former Force India team mate, Esteban Ocon can empathise with...

    Ocon spent a year as Mercedes' reserve driver after losing his seat to Lance Stroll at Racing Point, before landing at Renault for 2020. He capped off his first season with the Anglo-French squad with a stunning podium in Sakhir, after which he drew parallels between what Perez is going through now and what he went through at the end of 2018.

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    “It’s obviously a very tough position to be in,” said Ocon after finishing second at Sakhir. “I know well, know how it feels like.

    “I’m glad that Sergio is obviously getting the result, you know? To show everybody that he deserves to be in Formula 1. He’s one of the top guys out there and he can’t be left outside. There’s no… it would not be normal.”

    2020 Sakhir Grand Prix: Ocon joy after claiming first Formula 1 podium

    Ocon accepted, however, that it is the harsh reality of F1 that deserving drivers sometimes find themselves without a seat.

    “But sometimes the sport is like that, unfortunately,” he continued, “and you don’t end up in the best situations.”

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    The Renault driver said it was the support and belief of others that got him through a year he spent on the sidelines as Mercedes’ reserve, a situation which he described in 2018 as 'hard to believe'.

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    Ocon worked with the best in his year on the sidelines in 2019

    “On my side obviously it’s been a tough year but I was in good hands. I had a lot of people believing in me and supporting me, which has helped me to come back after a year out – and yeah, here we are.

    READ MORE: Delighted Ocon reflects on ‘difficult journey’ to maiden podium after P2 finish in Sakhir

    “Not easy to get going but after a bit of running, you get there,” he concluded.

    Perez himself has demonstrated his racecraft with brilliant drives this season including a podium in Turkey, but his options for 2021 are slim. Red Bull are one of those options, as they have not yet confirmed Alex Albon’s seat for next season.