Sergio Perez was supposedly voted Formula 1 Driver of the Day for the Portuguese Grand Prix, but rumors suggest he didn’t really win.
After Lewis Hamilton took the checkered flag ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas to secure his second win in the first three races of the 2021 Formula 1 season at Algarve International Circuit in the Portuguese Grand Prix, it was not revealed who won Driver of the Day.
After every race is won, it is revealed on the live broadcast which driver secured the most votes to be awarded that honor. But that wasn’t the case this time around.
Finally, it was revealed on Formula 1’s social media pages that Sergio Perez, whose brilliant tire management throughout the 66-lap race around the 15-turn, 2.91-mile (4.683-kilometer) road course in Portimao, Algarve, Portugal led to him leading 13 laps, won the vote after his fourth place finish. But that announcement didn’t come until a little bit later on.
Since it wasn’t revealed during the cooldown lap like usual and a vote breakdown, which is always provided, wasn’t shown, this led some fans to speculate.
Formula 1 fans have been known to band together to make goofy decisions when it comes to voting for drivers in the past, and it was suspected that this was the case again.
Just as one example, Sergey Sirotkin, the 2018 season’s last place finisher in the driver standings, straight-up dominated Sky Sports’ Best Driver of 2018 poll. It was obvious that something was up, so Sky Sports didn’t give him the award.
Now there are rumors, which are actually pretty believable, that the same was done to vote for Nikita Mazepin as the Driver of the Day in Portimao, especially given the discussions that had been had among fans on Twitter to pull off such a thing ahead of the rookie’s third career start.
It is totally believable — and that is not sarcasm — that it would be Mazepin who would be the subject of a fake vote as well, given just how disliked he is by fans for a variety of reasons. The fact that the start of his career has been nothing shy of a disaster on the track has only contributed to the piling-on.
And that strategy appears to have succeeded.
Of course, there is no way to confirm it unless Formula 1 came right out and said so (which implies that there is no way to confirm it because that is never going to happen). But it will absolutely happen again unless voting for him is disabled (which would also kind of imply the same).
Mazepin finished this race in 19th place, last among the drivers running — by far. He was lapped by the Williams of George Russell and nearly finished a full lap behind teammate Mick Schumacher, also a rookie, after Schumacher comfortably outqualified him for the third time in three attempts.
The 22-year-old Russian was also issued a five-second time penalty for ignoring blue flags multiple times when running ahead of Perez while Perez was leading, and he had a penalty point added to his Formula 1 license for the same.
On a positive note, he didn’t spin out all race, something he had never been able to say after a Formula 1 race.
Quite frankly, the fact that this race was the first race in which he didn’t spin out could be reason enough for winning Driver of the Day, despite the fact that it was about as terrible of a race as one could have possibly had without crashing.
But that might be a little bit too generous.
Mazepin’s fourth career Formula 1 start is scheduled to take place this Sunday, May 9 at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the Spanish Grand Prix. This race is set to be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET.