Racing Point’s Sergio Perez has vowed to find a way to extend his Formula 1 career after his first victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix.
The Mexican’s contract expires for next season and his only potential for leadership is Red Bull picks for their second seat.
“After today, I’m determined to be here,” said 30-year-old Perez.
“My best option is to continue next year, but if I have to stop it it won’t be a disaster, I can go back in 2022.”
Perez’s team decided to replace him in 2021 with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel after the German was dropped by Ferrari. The other car is owned by Lance Stroll, son of billionaire Lawrence Stroll, owner of Racing Point.
Perez, who made his Formula One debut in 2011, said winning the 190th Grand Prix “gives me more peace with myself. What happens is not much in my hands. I want to continue.”
Red Bull head Christian Horner said the team will not decide whether to stay on British-Thai driver Alex Albon alongside Max Verstappen next year until after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Albon had a disappointing weekend in Bahrain, where he qualified for 12th and 6th place. German Nico Hulkenberg is also a potential competitor for the seat.
Perez’s victory came after a brilliant campaign in which he was demoted to the back of the field when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc collided with him on the opening lap.
Perez fought back on the field and took advantage in the final stages of a goalkeeper foul by Mercedes that dropped their drivers George Russell and Valtteri Bottas from first and second places.
Russell, who replaced Lewis Hamilton after the world champion contracted the Coronavirus, was trying to chase Perez into the final laps when he got punched.
“I’m a little shocked, to be honest. I’m not finding the words. I’m in a state of uncertainty right now,” Perez said.
“As a driver, you are dreaming this time, to be in the position, for many years. I’ve worked all my life for a moment like this. To finally achieve it … It’s hard to comprehend. I think it will take a few years days, but it’s just unbelievable.”
He is the first Mexican to win a Formula 1 World Championship race since Pedro Rodriguez won the Belgian Grand Prix in 1970.
Perez is attracting huge crowds to his homeland race, which has been canceled this year as a result of the pandemic, and said he expects his victory to be handled with joy in his homeland.
“That means a lot, a lot to me, especially this year,” he said. “It has been very difficult for the entire world, so having that kind of happiness at home for many Mexicans means a lot to me, and my family, and that means … such a wonderful day, a historic day in our sport.
“I am very happy, you know. I have seen how much support I am getting in my country. Can you imagine what it is like at the moment?”
“It’d be cool. The races are usually like 6 AM, 7 AM. This is, it’s Sunday, 11 AM and I’m sure now that they’ll have some good tequila in half of the country!”
Renault driver Esteban Ocon, who scored his first podium by finishing second in Bahrain, said Perez deserved to stay in Formula 1.
Okon, who was Perez’s teammate in 2017 and 2018, said: “I’m glad Sergio is making it clear, you know? To show everyone that he deserves to be in Formula 1.”
“He’s one of the best players and he can’t be left outside. No … it won’t be normal. But sometimes the sport is like this, unfortunately, and you don’t end up in the best situations.”