Perez helps unfancied Force India finish third in Bahrain
MERCEDES are the kings of Formula One, but it's unheralded Force India who have assumed the role of heir apparent, leaving mighty Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in their slipstream.
As Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg powered to another Mercedes one-two in a gripping Bahrain Grand Prix wheel-to-wheel duel on Sunday, Force India celebrated a third place for Sergio Perez and a fifth-place finish for Nico Huelkenberg.
It put Force India, owned by Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, into an unlikely second place in the constructors' championship after three races of the 2014 season.
"Today is one of the greatest days in the history of our team. It's been a long time coming, but it's very satisfying to see Sahara Force India back on the podium after so many near misses in recent years," said team chief Mallya.
Perez's third-place finish at Sakhir was Force India's second podium placing after Giancarlo Fisichella's second place at the 2009 Belgian GP.
Huelkenberg is third in the drivers' standings after also finishing fifth in Malaysia and sixth in Australia.
Perez, after a barren year with McLaren last year, enjoyed his first podium with Force India on Sunday and fourth overall.
Born from the remains of the Jordan, Midland and Spyker outfits, Force India are among the Mercedes-powered teams that have thrived under F1's new rules this season.
An elated Perez said: "This is a massive confidence boost, especially after the very hard season I had last year, and it was the hardest-fought podium I ever had.
"Really, coming into Force India and being able to, only in my third race...qualify fourth and then straight away being able to fight for the podium was a great feeling."