Perez: Racing Point’s growth potential unmatched

Sergio Perez believes no other F1 team has the potential to improve to the level which Racing Point can in 2020.

2019 proved to be a year of frustration for Racing Point – Perez had hoped to finish the season with the fourth-fastest car on the grid, but that didn’t materialise as they were forced to settle for P7 in the Constructors’ Championship.

Much of this though was blamed on the “legacy” of the financial problems which caused the team’s former incarnation as Force India to financially collapse in the summer of 2018.

But headed now by Lawrence Stroll’s consortium the funds are flowing, so Perez feels that no other team on the grid has the potential for growth that Racing Point does.

“There is very big, huge potential in this team,” he told Motorsport.com.

“I think [in 2020] we should be able to see it.

“I don’t think there is a team that can grow as much as this one already [for 2020], and [the new ruleset in] 2021 is a big opportunity for us to mix with the big boys.

“I think this season, the way I see this, we kind of expected to have a bit of a setback.

“I think the momentum, it’s with us. Things are looking great, especially for next year. I think it’s is a big year coming up for us because it’s absolutely the first year where we will see the new administration of the team get into play.”

Perez’s team-mate Lance Stroll also sees 2020 as an opportunity, believing Racing Point now have something of a “head start” compared to their predicament going into 2019.

“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,” he said.

“So I really do look forward [to 2020]. If I look back on this year [2019], we came into the season with some struggles because of where we were this time last year and the troubles that the team had and that really delayed the process of development.

“So if I look at where we where we stand now and going into next year [2020], definitely we got a head start on where we were this time last year, so that really does excite me.

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

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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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Perez expecting 'big year ahead' for Racing Point

SportPesa Racing Point’s Sergio Perez is expecting his team to achieve a big step forward in 2020 as it reaps the benefits of the significant changes that were executed by the outfit’s new owner this year.

Force India’s takeover by billionaire Lawrence Stroll during the summer of 2018 was accompanied by an influx of fresh capital that has allowed the pink squad to greatly consolidate its foundation and consider the future with optimism.

However, the team’s big overhaul this year coupled with the fact that Racing Point’s 2019 contender was conceived on last year’s shoestring budget weighed on the Silverstone-based outfit’s results.

The team concluded its campaign 7th in the Constructor’s standings, a fair distance from midfield leader McLaren but close to Renault and Toro Rosso.

But for Perez, this year’s campaign, in which the team showed progress in the second part of the season, was perhaps a case of taking an inevitable step back before moving two steps forward in 2020.

“Although it’s been a very difficult year in terms of pace, a slow start and so on. I cannot wait already for 2020, I think it’s a big year ahead for us. We work very hard,” commented the Mexican, quoted by Crash.net.

“I think we managed to improve step-by-step but obviously not enough. I don’t think we got close enough to McLaren, they were strong this year.

“Renault were a step ahead but it’s been very close to Toro Rosso I think. They obviously did a better job than us and scored plenty of points when the opportunities were there, so that made a huge difference in the midfield when you are able to score big points.”

Given this year’s challenges of stabilizing and improving its foundation for the future while managing the development of its 2019 car, Perez believes that Racing Point succeeded in making the post of the opportunities that came its way.

“We beat other drivers with faster cars and in that regard, we can be pleased,” he said.

“We were done by strategies and sometimes by mistakes from other drivers but we were always there to pick up the pieces and the points and I think we had a very strong second half of the season so we can be pleased with that.
“I can only be pleased with what I’ve achieved,” Perez added as he took stock of his own performance.

“I’ve finished inside the top ten in the drivers’ championship with a car throughout that was not around there.”

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Lawrence Stroll: Kubica most determined fighter I’ve ever seen

Robert Kubica appears to be headed towards a third driver role for 2020 at Racing Point after a dismal comeback season with Williams that turned a fairytale into.

Earlier, with the Pole looking likely to combine an F1 role with a DTM race seat with BMW, at one point it appeared that Haas might be his 2020 project.

But sport.pl reports that Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll is a big Kubica fan and reported “He doesn’t let failure bring him down. He falls but gets up. In sports and in life, I have never seen someone who is so determined, such a fighter.”

However, Kubica – who has lost his seat at Williams – told the Polish broadcaster TVP that his horror rallying crash of 2011 affected him badly, “There were a few nights where I cried. 20 years of passion and work changed in one second.

“I had to mentally as well as physically rehabilitate myself. The turning point was when I did not think about how to do something, but I was glad that I could do it at all,” recalled the 35-year-old.

For instance, he says something as simple as tying his shoes is no longer easy.

“As a rule, I am lazy and do not tie them at all, but if I did it like before the accident, it would not be possible. After some time, the mind and body find a new way, and it is the final result that is important,” explained Kubica.

The veteran Pole would join Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll in the Silverstone based tam.


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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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Brawn refutes Racing Point’s ‘premature’ concerns

Ross Brawn has refuted Andrew Green’s claim that F1’s 2021 cars will be a “nasty piece of work”.

Formula 1 will enter a new era in 2021 with ground-effect aerodynamics governing the design of the cars.

This is being done in the hope of lessening the dirty air thus improving the cars’ ability to follow and overtake.

Racing Point technical director Green isn’t impressed.

“It’s going to be a real nasty piece of work to drive,” he told Motorsport.com

“I think it’s something that if they allowed a little more freedom would allow us to sort that out, but still retain the intent of the ground effect car and low following wake.”

Brawn, though, has rejected Green’s opinion.

Instead the Formula 1 sporting boss feels it is “premature” to make such a judgment especially the teams have not yet been able to simulate the 2021 cars with their new 18-inch wheels.

“The knowledge and complexity of the cars we have today is incredibly refined in terms of what the teams are doing,” Brawn told RaceFans.net.

“It wasn’t that long ago, for instance, there didn’t exist a decent tyre model in terms of the aerodynamic impact the tyre has, because the front tyre is incredibly influential on the way the aerodynamics work.

“One reason we’ve gone to an 18-inch wheel is partly to reduce that, because the movement of the sidewalls are so extreme on a 13-inch wheel.

“You can imagine in cornering, you’ve got this very dynamic tyre that’s distorting like mad at the contact patch and not distorting halfway up.

“I’d be amazed if Andrew Green has got a tyre model yet of an 18-inch tyre that tells him what the tyres are doing in cornering. We have. I don’t think he was.

“But just stepping back, this refinement has only existed in the last few years.

“I can remember 10 years ago we didn’t have the knowledge or simulations. We didn’t know what was going on.

“And I don’t think the cars 10 years ago were nasty to drive. I think we were a bit less refined than where they are now. So I think it’s a bit premature to say that.’

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Aston Martin confirm investor talks

Rumours have been circulating that Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll could invest in Aston Martin, and investor talks have been confirmed.

The British car manufacturer, believed to be valued at around £1.27billion, have run into financial difficulties and their shares have now dropped to 556.8p, compared to £19 when it was floated on the stock market just over a year ago in October 2018.

Aston Martin currently serve as Red Bull’s title sponsor in F1, but should Stroll, who purchased the bankrupt Force India team in August last year, invest in Aston Martin, then we could see his Racing Point team re-branded again.

Aston Martin released a statement on Friday, which reads: “The Company confirms that it is reviewing its funding requirements and various funding options.

“It is also engaged in early stage discussions with potential strategic investors in relation to building longer term relationships which may or may not involve an equity investment.

“A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

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Driver reviews: McLaren, Renault, STR, Racing Point

In round two of three, PlanetF1 delves into the performances of every driver, now it’s the turn of McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso and Racing Point.

All qualifying averages are calculated based on when both drivers competed free of issues or factors outside of their control.

McLaren

Carlos Sainz

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 10-11
Average gap in qualifying: -0.06s
Race battle v team-mate: 13-8
Best finish: P3 (Brazil)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 66% (96 of 145 points)

Carlos Sainz says his last-lap battle to secure P6 in the Drivers' standings felt like a "World Championship" battle.

2019 has been a real feel-good story when it comes to McLaren, finally after years of under-performance we saw the eight-time Constructors’ champions take a big step towards recovery.

And the driving force, pun intended, behind their rise to P4 in the Constructors’ was Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard was happy to escape the Red Bull shackles and settle down into a long-term deal with McLaren, and that has shown on the track.

His first podium in F1 at the Brazilian GP was a reward for what has been a very solid season for Sainz, and he crowned it with a last-lap lunge on Nico Hulkenberg which secured him P6 in the Drivers’ Championship – the first person outside of Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari to break into the top six since 2015.

66% of McLaren’s 145 points came courtesy of Sainz this year, and he will look to score even more in 2020 as they aim to take a step closer to the top three.

Lando Norris

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 11-10
Average gap in qualifying: +0.06s
Race battle v team-mate: 8-13
Best finish: P6 (Bahrain, Austria)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 34% (49 of 145 points)

Norris came into F1 this season as the cheeky 19-year-old who finished runner up to George Russell in the 2018 F2 Championship, and we’ve already grown to love him.

The plucky Brit and Sainz have struck up one of the most entertaining partnerships that we have seen in a long time, and it has been refreshing to see his personality allowed to shine through despite all that’s at stake.

Who will forget Lando Norris’ “I’m moving up and down, side to side, like a rollercoaster” response to a radio check, or when he was moved to tears on the radio as he spoke to his departing engineer Andrew Jarvis in Abu Dhabi.

But on top of all the funny business, Norris has delivered a solid first campaign. He snatched the qualifying battle 11-10 against Sainz in Abu Dhabi, and if it wasn’t for some terrible luck, like his retirement from P5 in Belgium on the last lap, then the race and Championship statistics would have probably looked much closer.

Norris admitted in Abu Dhabi that over time his relationship with Sainz probably will change, but what he’s doing right now is certainly working, and it’s clear that the future is bright for Norris.

Renault

Daniel Ricciardo

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 14-7
Average gap in qualifying: -0.11s
Race battle v team-mate: 11-8 (Double retirement at German GP, double DQ at Japanese GP)
Best finish: P4 (Italy)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 59% (54 of 91 points)

The Aussie may be keeping a brave face saying 2019 wasn’t a year to forget, but let’s be real, it absolutely was.

Ricciardo made the move from Red Bull to Renault for 2019 – the French manufacturer had finished ‘best of the rest’ P4 in 2018 and were keen to build on that, but this year they’ve gone backwards.

For large parts of 2019 they could match McLaren for pace, but a lack of consistency when it came to putting it together in the race cost them.

Still, Ricciardo enjoys bragging rights after winning the qualifying and race battles against team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, while also scoring more points than the German.

P4 at Monza was a solid achievement for Ricciardo – Renault found a surge in performance and their star man took full advantage.

As for next year Ricciardo will have a new team-mate in the form of Esteban Ocon. But, Ricciardo has been blunt in saying that he will “cross that bridge” if Renault don’t show signs in 2020 that they can compete with the big boys in 2021.

The team themselves have stated their desire to have a junior driver in a race seat for 2021, so is the clock ticking on Ricciardo’s time with Renault already?

Nico Hulkenberg

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 7-14
Average gap in qualifying: +0.11s
Race battle v team-mate: 8-11 (Double retirement at German GP, double DQ at Japanese GP)
Best finish: P5 (Italy)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 41% (37 of 91 points)

Williams haven't held talks with Nico Hulkenberg over a 2020 drive.

As we bid farewell to the 2019 season, we do so as well to Hulkenberg. For a while it seemed he was heading to Haas, but eventually every door was slammed shut and he was left without a drive for 2020.

Hulkenberg did say he was “relieved” to get the Abu Dhabi GP over with and move on from F1, but he likely won’t be satisfied with what could be his last season in the series.

Once Ricciardo was bedded into the Renault team, he became the dominant driver, though Hulkenberg did throw a golden opportunity away to claim his first F1 podium at the German GP.

A bit like that race, Hulkenberg’s career has always promised so much but delivered little – it may be would have been nice to see him in a title-contending car, there were of course calls for Red Bull to sign him, but the chances of that were always slim and…did he ever really deserve one?

Toro Rosso

Pierre Gasly

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 7-2
Average gap in qualifying: -0.33s
Race battle v team-mate: 5-4
Best finish: P2 (Brazil)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 38% (32 of 85 points)

Pierre Gasly describes Brazil P2 as "best day of my life".

A broken and dejected Gasly was demoted over the summer break from Red Bull back to Toro Rosso, but it did him the world of good.

Quickly the Frenchman got back into is stride and saw off Daniil Kvyat in both the qualifying and race head-to-heads. The fact his average qualifying lap was 0.33s faster than the Russian also makes for impressive reading.

Of course his greatest achievement of the season, and his career, came in Brazil where he secured a P2 finish. It was his first podium in F1 and that drag race to the line against Lewis Hamilton will go down as a truly iconic moment.

Gasly would have gotten away with P6 in the Drivers’ Championship too, if it wasn’t for that “f*cking Stroll”.

Daniil Kvyat

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 2-7
Average gap in qualifying: +0.33s
Race battle v team-mate: 4-5
Best finish: P3 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 44% (37 of 85 points)

Daniil Kvyat ready for another shot at a big team

While Kvyat has his own comeback story to tell for 2019, he can’t be happy with how it has played out overall.

First of all though let’s give the credit that’s due – his P3 in Germany was Toro Rosso’s first since 2008 and he richly deserved it after surviving the barmy weather to bring his STR14 home.

But, the Russian has also missed out on two big opportunities this season. When that seat at Red Bull was going he couldn’t convince the team to recall him over a rookie in Alex Albon, while he then had the chance to pile further misery on Gasly, which he failed to do.

Across the board Gasly had the upper hand in the second half of the season, and Kvyat must find a way to up his game in 2020 as the duo kick off the team’s new era as Alpha Tauri.

Racing Point

Sergio Perez

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 18-3
Average gap in qualifying: -0.22s
Race battle v team-mate: 16-5
Best finish: P6 (Azerbaijan, Belgium)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 71% (52 of 73 points)

Sergio Perez scores points in Japan despite crashing out.

Perez hoped that Racing Point would finish 2019 with the fourth-fastest car, sadly it didn’t work out that way. But it was the team’s first full season after the financial meltdown of Force India in August last year, so progress was always going to be steady.

What the Mexican has done though is comprehensively beat the owner’s son Lance Stroll in every area. That form earned him a new three-year deal, putting an end to the year-by-year contracts which previously dictated his career with the team.

Racing Point will now, for the first time, have a full uninterrupted winter to prepare their challenger for 2020, and if they come up with the goods then we know Perez can deliver the results.

Lance Stroll

Qualifying battle v team-mate: 3-18
Average gap in qualifying: +0.22s
Race battle v team-mate: 5-16
Best finish: P4 (Germany)
Percentage of team’s Championship points: 29% (21 of 73 points)

Stroll has just finished his third season in Formula 1, so it’s easy to forget he’s still only 21. His dad is now in charge at Racing Point so he probably will have a seat there for as long as he wants it, but there comes a time when the youngster needs to deliver.

He was brought into Williams thanks to his father’s money, the same has now happened at Racing Point and he is yet to fully prove that he deserves an F1 seat based on raw talent.

2019 has undoubtedly been Stroll’s strongest season so far and he showed his wet-weather racing skills in Germany, but Perez has had him in his back pocket all year.

His 14-race streak of Q1 eliminations from the 2018 US GP to Germany this year became something of a running joke, but his racecraft offers much more promise.

In fact, he finishes 2019 with the most positions gained (40) on opening laps out of all the drivers. So, if he wasn’t starting so far down the order, surely his results would improve.

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Could Racing Point rebrand as Aston Martin?

Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll is reported to be interested in buying a major stake in Aston Martin, according to Autocar and RaceFans.net.

Stroll, who has an estimated worth of over £2 billion through investments and fashion brands, initially came to the rescue for the team formerly known as Force India in August 2018.

The Canadian billionaire was at the forefront of a consortium that bought the team which had been forced into administration.

Autocar and RaceFans.net are now reporting that Stroll is ready to make more business moves, heading up another consortium in order to buy a major stake in Aston Martin, taking advantage of its drop in share price.

Since Aston Martin began to float on the stock market in 2o18,  its share price has dropped from around £19 to £5 and the company itself reported a £80million lost in the first half of 2019.

Although Lawrence Stroll and Aston Martin have both refused to comment on the reports, it is thought that Stroll would be keen on reintroducing the familiar Aston Martin green colour back to Formula 1 and rebranding the current Racing Point team.

Aston Martin, of course, currently have very strong ties to Red Bull through their title sponsorship. The last time Aston Martin was a Formula 1 team in their own right was between 1959 and 1960.

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Racing Point tracking Schumacher, Latifi progress

Racing Point CEO Otmar Szafnauer admits they are one of the teams tracking the progress of Mick Schumacher, while Nicholas Latifi is also on their radar.

Sergio Perez signed a new three-year deal earlier in the year to remain with the team, while Lance Stroll, son of owner Lawrence Stroll continues in the second seat from 2020 and beyond.

But Racing Point continue to scout the market for possible future stars – Schumacher, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, is someone they continue to monitor, while Latifi who currently serves as Williams’ reserve driver, is also on their mind after serving as Force India’s test driver in 2018.

“We have quite a few drivers in mind,” Szafnauer told Speedweek.com.

“We look at how they beat each other in the junior series. We even wrote an analysis program in which we record all the results. Well, that does not allow a perfect judgment, but it’s a guide.

“Everyone in the Formula 1 is watching attentively what Mick Schumacher is doing.

“There are some pretty good guys. We also had Nicholas Latifi in our car.”

Stroll is still only 21 years of age, and Szafnauer is happy with his development, but admits that tyre management is an area for improvement.

“Lance Stroll is a smart guy, still very young. His starts really are a show,” he explained.

“But he is still learning, especially in tyre management. He had bad luck a few times. He usually starts well, as I said, but then two opponents get in front of him and he runs out of pace.”

Racing Point caused a stir back at the Japanese Grand Prix when their appeal against Renault’s automatically adjusting brake bias system got the French manufacturer disqualified from the results in Suzuka.

But, Szafnauer is still adamant that his team were right to flag it up, saying Renault were “tricking” F1 and that’s not “alright”.

“No, I have a good conscience,” he said when asked if he felt like the bad guy in the situation.

“Renault tricked everyone with this unauthorised driving aid, that just was not alright.”

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