Perez and Stroll insist Racing Point on brink of 'biggest jump'

Team mates Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll believe that 2020 could see Racing Point’s competitiveness and performance make the biggest improvement of anyone on the grid.

“There is very big, huge potential in this team,” Perez told Motorsport.com. “I don’t think there is a team that can grow as much as this one already.

“I think the momentum, it’s with us. Things are looking great,” he added. “It is a big year coming up for us.”

In its previous incarnation as Force India, the team twice finished as ‘best of the rest’ in fourth place in the constructors standings in 2016 and 2017 before financial problems caused the team to drop to seventh place in 2018

That year saw the team saved after going into administration. Despite new owners taking over and more funding becoming available for development, the renamed squad still found it tough going in 2019.

Perez hopes that the team is over the transition and that the toughest times are now behind them, as he looks forward to the new campaign.

“It’s absolutely the first year where we will see the new administration of the team get into play,” he explained. “I think this season [2019], the way I see this, we kind of expected to have a bit of a setback.”

The Mexican driver added that the upcoming overhaul of the sport’s technical regulations next year could also help give Racing Point the chance to find its way back to the top of the midfield again.

“2021 is a big opportunity for us to mix with the big boys,” he insisted.

Lance Stroll (CDN) Racing Point F1 Team RP19 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point F1 Team RP19 battle for position.                                03.11.2019. F

Perez’ confidence is matched by that of his young team mate, whose father Lawrence led the corporate buy-out that saved the team.

“I think it is a massive opportunity,” said Lance Stroll. “Everyone’s going to keep working as hard as they can over the winter – that’s the game – but hopefully we will make the biggest jump.

“But it is such a competitive midfield now that we will only find out when when Melbourne comes around,” he admitted.

Stroll – who finished in fourth place in the 2019 German Grand Prix – insisted that the team is much further ahead in its development for 2020 compared to where it was 12 months ago.

“We came into [last] season with some struggles because of where we were this time last year, the troubles that the team had, and that really delayed the process of development.

“Definitely we got a head start on where we were this time last year, so that really does excite me,” he said. “So I really do look forward to [the new season].”

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Stroll: Racing Point car ‘different category’ to Williams

Lance Stroll has said that his 2019 Racing Point car is in a “different category” to the Williams car he drove last year.

The Canadian driver joined the team a year ago when his father, Lawrence Stroll, bought them and became the owner.

In his first season there, he scored 21 points to help the team finish P7 in the Constructors’ Championship, a long way ahead of Williams, the team he left them for.

“I see a difference in speed”, Stroll told Crash.net when asked what he found to be the biggest difference between the two teams.

“[The car is] very different, it’s like a different category really”.

“Formula 1 is always changing. Tyres are changing every year, a new car is developed, with experience, and I think next year is a really exciting year for the team.”

The team formerly known as Force India endured a turbulent 2018, going into administration before a group of investors led by Stroll senior bailed them out.

The 21-year-old driver believes this affected their 2019 performances and that they’ll be able to show their true level in 2020.

“We had a lot of challenges coming into this year with everything that went on in 2018, with the transition from Force India to Racing Point. I do think that put us on the back foot coming into this year”, he explained.

“I think next year is really going to be representative of what we can do over the winter, and how strong we can be when we show up in Melbourne.

“There’s a great group of engineers that work here. It’s great working with the guys around me, and I think everyone is really excited about next year, to be a part of that is very exciting.

“We’re already looking forward to 2020. I think there’s some unfinished business.”

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Stroll: Racing Point will show up ‘strong’ in Melbourne

Lance Stroll says Racing Point will show how “strong” they can be when the 2020 season starts in Melbourne.

2019 was the Racing Point entry’s first season in F1 after the consortium headed by Lawrence Stroll purchased the bankrupt Force India team in August 2018.

Sergio Perez had set Racing Point the target of having the fourth-fastest car on the grid by the end of 2019, though this didn’t come to fruition with the team finishing P7 in the Constructors’ Championship.

But the Mexican driver accepted that the financial meltdown of Force India had heavily compromised Racing Point’s 2019, and now Stroll has backed up his team-mate, believing the team will now pump in a solid off-season and be “strong” when they show up for the Australian GP.

“Formula 1 is always changing,” Stroll told Crash.net.

“Tyres are changing every year, a new car is developed, with [more] experience, and I think next year is a really exciting year for the team.

“We had a lot of challenges coming into this year with everything that went on in 2018, with the transition from Force India to Racing Point. I do think that put us on the back foot coming into this year.

“I think next year is really going to be representative of what we can do over the winter, and how strong we can be when we show up in Melbourne.”

Lance Stroll’s father Lawrence had brought his backing to Williams when his son raced for them from 2017-18, but the pair jumped ship to Racing Point together and Stroll feels he is in a “much more competitive environment” now.

“I see a difference in speed. You look at the grid, it’s definitely a much more competitive environment,” he said when asked what the main differences between Williams and Racing Point are.

“There’s a great group of engineers that work here. It’s great working with the guys around me, and I think everyone is really excited about next year, to be a part of that is very exciting.

“We’re already looking forward to 2020. I think there’s some unfinished business.”

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Gasly ‘pissed off’ as Stroll ruins ‘everything’

Pierre Gasly wasn’t even going to pretend he was okay, telling the world that he was “pissed off” with Lance Stroll who “ruined everything” in his fight for P6 in the standings.

Gasly went into the season finale sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Although he was tied with Carlos Sainz on 95 points, the Frenchman was ahead thanks to his runner-up result at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

While Sainz was ahead on the grid, P8 to Gasly’s P11, the Toro Rosso driver tried to make up positions at the start only to fall foul of Stroll.

The Racing Point driver gave Gasly a whack, pushing him into Sergio Perez and breaking his front wing.

Gasly’s dream of P6 severely dented on the opening corner of the very first lap.

He finished the race a distant P18 but for a while it looked as if he would still hold onto sixth given that Carlos Sainz was running in 11th place.

The McLaren driver made a late pass on Nico Hulkenberg to bag the final point and become the first non-Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull driver to finish inside the top six since 2014.

Gasly was angry, telling his STR pit wall that “he should have been right there if not for f*cking Stroll.”

He added to RaceFans.net: “I’m just pissed off because I didn’t take the fight to Carlos and we clearly had the car and the pace to do it.

“We had a good advantage starting in P11 on the grid, Daniil [Kvyat] was two places behind and he finished ninth.

“I wasn’t really looking at Alex [Albon] but more Carlos to finish ahead of him.

“Today we had the opportunity and from what I could see so far Lance just ruined everything.”

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Racing Point: We expect to be competitive

Racing Point preview the Mexican Grand Prix, round 18 of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Lance Stroll: “Mexico is a really fun event. The fans are great and they really help make the race special with the atmosphere they create. Even on the Friday, you see full grandstands and can feel the energy of the crowd.

“Away from the track, the city is awesome too. It’s a busy place, with lots going on, and I definitely enjoy exploring and trying the Mexican food – you can’t beat a good taco! I’ve obviously been to Mexico City a few times now for the race, but I also visited Punta Mita a few years ago for a holiday and played on the golf course. It’s a beautiful place.

“Mexico City is up there as one of my favourite circuits of the year. I enjoy driving the car in high altitude conditions and you can really notice the difference because the car feels more nervous. It just adds another challenge for the drivers.

“It’s quite a simple track – sort of like a go-kart track with some long straights linked by some low-speed corners. It’s quite technical in places and there are overtaking opportunities. I think we have good potential in the car for these final few races and Mexico should suit us quite well.”

Sergio Perez: “The race in Mexico is a hugely important weekend for me. It’s my home race and I always feel very proud to see Formula 1 back in Mexico. We’ve just had the notice that the race contract has been extended for another three years, which is great news for the sport and for Mexico. Everybody tells me how much they love the race – my colleagues, the media and the fans. It’s our chance to show everybody the Mexican way of life and how much we love sports.

“The track is a pretty challenging one – especially when you consider we are driving the cars at a high altitude. It’s tough on the drivers physically and it’s hard work for the power unit as well because the air is so thin.

“I think the final sector is my favourite part of the lap – the fast and flowing section, which can be very tricky, and it’s easy to make a mistake through there. Because of the altitude, you have much less downforce on the car and the car can sometimes get quite loose through those fast corners.

“The final sector also has the stadium section and when it’s full of fans the atmosphere is like nothing else. Each time I drive through there, even during practice, I can hear the fans and feel their support.

“Overtaking is never easy, but I think the best opportunity is into Turn 1 – that’s where we’ve seen most of the moves being made.”

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal: “Mexico has been a fantastic addition to the calendar and, over the last five years, has become one of the most popular races of the season. The atmosphere inside the circuit is unlike any other and, away from the track, we’re treated to some great hospitality. I personally don’t think you can beat a good Chimichanga!

“As a team, we enjoy great support in Mexico – especially because it’s a home race for Sergio – and the energy of the crowd is something that the whole team feeds off. We expect to be competitive and to be fighting for points on Sunday. The car has evolved significantly over the last couple of months and Mexico City is another chance to demonstrate the progress we have made recently.”


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Stroll and Racing Point focusing on present

Lance Stroll has said he and SportPesa Racing Point are focusing on the present rather than looking ahead to next season and beyond.

Since being bought out by Stroll’s father, the team have begun to make steady progress, but with more investment and regulation changes on the horizon, they could be forgiven for paying more attention to the future.

“I think we have to focus on the present,” Stroll said as per insideracing.com.

“What we can do moving forward is definitely in the back of our mind, but yeah we’ll see what the future holds.

“At the moment it’s really about approaching the rest of this season and then, of course, bringing the best car we can for next season.

“That’s a different story right now. We still have a lot of racing left for this year, and then we’ll see.”

While he has enjoyed some strong results, such as a P4 finish in Germany, Stroll, who’s set to be announced for next season, has generally struggled in his first season with the team, only making it out of Q1 once.

“It’s not where we want to be,” he added.

“This sport is an unknown, there is no certainty.

“Clearly, the other teams have made some progress through the course of the first half of the season. Unfortunately, they’ve managed to leap us by a few tenths.

“That’s how it is, we just need to deal with it and bounce back.”

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Beleaguered Williams looking for a boost at Hockenheim

The struggling Williams team is hoping that this weekend’s German Grand Prix will give their fans something to cheer about.

Currently, Williams is at the bottom of the constructors championship with just four points courtesy of Lance Stroll’s top ten finish in Baku.

With the pressure on at Grove, some success at the Hockenheimring on Sunday would be a huge boost to the team.

“I like this track, and it should suit our car better than other tracks have done,” insisted the team’s Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin, who is yet to finish in the top ten this season.

“It will be exciting to see what our recent upgrades can bring us before the summer break,” he added. “It will be an important weekend for the team and I am looking forward to it.”

Because the German Grand Prix was missing from last year’s calendar, this will be Lance Stroll’s first Grand Prix at the iconic circuit. However, he has raced here before in junior categories.

“This is a cool track that has a great flow and I know it really well,” he said. “I have very fond memories of driving there and it has always treated me well.

“I have won three races there in the past and our Formula 3 car always worked pretty well there.

“I have not seen an F1 race there, but I’m told that the atmosphere in the stadium section is electric,” he added.

“The town itself is not much of a place and usually there is not much happening there. But I am sure that will be very different when the F1 fans get back there after not having had a German race for two years!”

The team’s chief technical officer was also looking forward to getting back to Hockenheim this week.

“It’s a place we enjoy racing,” he said. “It’s an important circuit in Formula 1 history, as well as being the home of our partner Mercedes.

“It produces some great racing, so I hope we can put on a good show for the fans.

“The German fans always come out in force, which gives the stadium section a great atmosphere come race day.”

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