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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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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Perez teases F1 exit in 2022 if results don’t improve

Sergio Perez has made it clear that he would be unlikely to sign a new deal to stay in F1 if he isn’t competing at the front of the grid by 2022.

The Mexican driver is contracted to Racing Point until the end of the 2022 campaign after signing a new three-year extension last season, but has previously been vocal about the lack of opportunities for the midfield drivers to battle with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull at the top.

But Perez sees the new regulations coming for 2021 as a big opportunity to bridge that gap, though should it fail to do so, then his days in F1 could become numbered.

“What gave me the hope is a change of rules and that I know what’s going on with the team,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com.

“I mean, I have to be also realistic, you know. I cannot be with Mercedes or Ferrari. This is a fantastic place to be. Many drivers would love to be here, especially with what is going on behind the scenes. So it’s a good opportunity.

“But obviously it’s going to be my 10th year in F1 next year. If things keep going the same way I don’t see me extending my career much further than 2022.

“Three years in Formula 1 go by very fast. I’m very optimistic and I’m ready to fight for wins and I’m all for it.”

If Perez was to receive an offer from one of the big teams though, he doesn’t think Racing Point would stand in his way.

“The way I see it is that I’ve been so long in this team, it’s really become like my second family,” he explained.

“So I don’t think there will be anyone more happy if an opportunity comes to me with a top team. They will for sure give me the opportunity.

“But if that’s not the case, it is a fantastic place to be. So why not commit for a good, long-term future and then I’m sure I’m going to be very successful here.”

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Perez aiming to take fight to McLaren in 2020

Sergio Perez is hoping to “attack McLaren” in the 2020 season and also set a target of being “significantly closer” to the top three in Formula 1.

Racing Point finished the season in P7 in the Constructors’ Championship following a year which saw the team having to play catch-up after a change in ownership.

But Perez is hoping that a now settled and stable team will be able to climb up the table in 2020, not only taking on their midfield rivals but also making a big dent into the gap that separates that entire group from the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

“We knew that from the start, but it’s still tough in such a long season,” Perez told Auto Motor und Sport when reflecting on Racing Point’s 2019 campaign.

“We didn’t improve as much as we wanted, as we were late and had too much to catch up. But we have put a lot of effort into 2020.

“I think this can be the first season under the new leadership where we can be very strong. We want to finish fourth. That is our main goal.

“The team is now stable and I hope that in 2020 we will not only attack McLaren but also be significantly closer to the top teams.”

Perez, who finished P10 in the World Championship, has a long-term deal with Racing Point which expires at the end of the 2022 season.

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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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Perez: Move on Norris 'one of the best of my career'

Racing Point’s Sergio Perez reckoned his last lap overtake of McLaren’s Lando Norris to snatch P7 in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was one of the best moves of his career.

A long 37-lap first stint on the medium tyre saw Perez move up to seventh, but the Mexican than fell out of the top ten after switching to the hard compound.

However, armed with fresher tyres, Perez wrestled his way back into the top ten to find himself hot on the heels of Norris.

After sizing up the McLaren in the closing stages of the race, the Racing Point charger went for it on the very last round, hounding the papaya car on the run down to Turn 11 before executing a pass on the outside of the corner.

The move caught Norris by surprise but amazed Perez himself.

“It was a good way to finish the season,” Perez said. “The final lap was one of my best moves of my career, that was a pretty special one

“The six points we scored means that I have finished inside the top 10 in the Drivers’ Championship and I’m pleased we could do that. I cannot wait to start next season already.”

Norris was none too pleased with losing the ‘best of the rest’ spot to his rival, calling himself a “shit driver” for not defending his position more aggressively.

“I can’t believe I allowed him to make the best move of his career!” said the McLaren driver when told of Perez’s reaction.

“I was a bit nervous of locking up or doing something stupid, but I just wasn’t forceful enough. I didn’t change my mindset enough I don’t think.

“I did the whole race being so calm and relaxed, looking after the fronts and the rears, and at this moment I needed to be aggressive and forceful and change how I was as a driver and I didn’t do that.

“I was a shit driver basically in my mind because he was the one guy I had to beat today and I didn’t and because of that I’m annoyed.

“The rest of the race was good but it all led up to this moment and I failed in what I needed to do.”

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Perez admits he 'didn't really deserve' points in Brazil

Like a few of his midfield rivals, Sergio Perez lucked into a top-ten finish in Brazil, but based on his poor pace in Sunday’s race, the SportPesa Racing Point driver believes the two points he collected for P9 weren’t deserved.

Perez was running well out of the top ten for the majority of the Brazilian Grand Prix, but the Mexican swiftly moved up the order in the latter part of the event thanks to the retirements of Valtteri Bottas and both Ferrari drivers and as a result of a spin by Red Bull’s Alex Albon.

On its merit however, Racing Point didn’t deserve its points according to Perez.

“I didn’t really see it coming,” Perez said. “It was a chaotic race, we needed to be strong out there.

“We were not good enough. We were lacking so much speed on the straights.

“We got overtaken very easily and then we couldn’t push to get past people, so quite a disappointing race.

“It’s two points that we didn’t really deserve, because we didn’t have the pace all weekend, but I’m just pleased with that.”

Contrary to Perez, teammate Lance Stroll, who also spent his afternoon clear of the top ten, wasn’t even awarded an opportunity to benefit from the commotion that impacted the running order.

The Canadian was forced to call it a day six laps from the checkered flag because of a suspension failure caused by debris from the Ferrari drivers’ clash.

“That’s exactly what happened, I ran over some debris,” Stroll said.

“It was very tight all the way to the end with all the Safety Cars. We were on a good tyre and it’s a bit of a shame because we were definitely in a position to grab some points.”

Unfortunately, Racing Point’s relative underperformance coupled with a big bag of points collected by Toro Rosso in Brazil, courtesy of Pierre Gasly’s second place finish, has pushed the pink outfit down to 7th in the Constructors’ standings

“A tough day for us, even though we managed to salvage a couple of points in the final few laps,” said team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

“We face an uphill task in Abu Dhabi to reclaim sixth place in the constructors’ championship, but we will go there fighting and give it everything.”

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Racing Point team boss: Justice prevailed

The US GP stewards were right to penalise Daniil Kvyat as he not only hit Sergio Perez but lined up the pass despite yellow flags, says SportPesa Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer.

Perez and Kvyat were fighting over 10th place on the final lap of the Circuit of the Americas race.

Despite the yellow flags being waved for Kevin Magnussen’s beached Haas, Kvyat did not back off, instead activating his DRS to line up the pass on Perez.

But, for the second race in a row, instead of making a clean move, the Russian racer gave his rival a hefty whack.

Kyvat crossed the line in 10th place but was later handed a five-second penalty for hitting Perez, dropping him to P12.

Perez took 10th and the final point.

“He deserved it,” Szafnauer told Motorsport.com.

“You can’t make up all the time under double-waved yellows and not slow down, and then bounce off the kerbs into someone.

“I think justice prevailed. Without that Sergio would have held him off.

“If you look at the on-board, he just closes up under yellow. So without being able to close up you’ve only got a few turns left and you’re done.

“Checo [Perez] lifted like you’re supposed to – double-waved yellow, you’re supposed to prepare to slow down, not open the DRS.

“Why open the DRS if you’re prepared to lift and stop?”

Sunday’s result means SportPesa Racing Point are one point ahead of Toro Rosso in the battle for sixth in the championship.

“Two races left, so we’ll do all we can to try and catch up,” said Szafnauer.

“You want to finish as high as you can, independent of the money. But the money absolutely does matter.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands there, and we’ve got to maximise our points in the next two races. Anything can happen, but we’ll work hard.”

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Perez: Hulkenberg case highlights how ‘sad’ F1 is

Sergio Perez has bemoaned the situation that Nico Hulkenberg finds himself in, saying the fact that the German can’t get a seat for 2020 shows that “other factors” play a big role in F1.

Hulkenberg has been an ever-present figure on the grid since he made his debut back in 2010, but his future in the sport is in doubt as Renault have already confirmed Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon for next season.

And with only a couple of seats still vacant, it is looking more and more likely that the German won’t feature next year.

Perez and Hulkenberg were team-mates for three seasons at Force India and the former lamented the 32-year-old’s plight.

“I would be very sad, because it just shows how sad Formula 1 is, that talent in the end, or results, don’t count enough in the sport,” Perez said when asked by Autosport how he would feel if Hulkenberg failed to stay on the grid.

“There are so many other factors, politically, and so many other factors out of the hands of the athlete or the sportsman. It should be his decision, whether he wants to continue or not.”

Hulkenberg and Ricciardo are neck and neck in the Drivers’ standings with the latter enjoying a seven-point lead with four races still to go.

Perez added: “We all know the level of Nico.

“So I think it should be up to him to decide whether he carries on or not, because he is one of the best out there.”

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Perez heads into 'hugely important' home race

Whoever wins this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, there’s little question that the real star of the show will be Sergio Perez, who will doubtless be besieged by thousands of adoring fans at his home event.

The 29-year-old originally hails from Guadalajara, the capital of the state of Jalisco, and has always been a passionate supporter of holding a Formula 1 race in the country.

“The race in Mexico is a hugely important weekend for me,” the SportPesa Racing Point driver said. “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.”

The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez event has always been a popular one, having won four straight ‘Best Promoter’ awards at the end-of-season FIA gala prize giving.

“Everybody tells me how much they love the race – my colleagues, the media and the fans,” Perez agreed. “It’s our chance to show everybody the Mexican way of life and how much we love sports.”

The track layout is famous for its stadium section, and for the high altitude which makes it more difficult for driver and car alike.

“The track is a pretty challenging one, especially when you consider we are driving the cars at a high altitude,” Perez concurred.

“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.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point F1 Team RP19.

“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.

“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,” he added.

Last time out in Suzuka, a problematic qualifying session left Perez starting from 17th place on the grid. However he was able to battle his way into the points by the finish which saw him classified ninth – despite contact with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly on the final lap.

Perez is currently in equal 10th place in the drivers standings with four races remaining in 2019, tied on points with Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris.

Racing Point itself heads into the weekend in seventh place in the constructors championship, and needs just five points to overhaul Toro Rosso.

“We expect to be competitive and to be fighting for points on Sunday,” predicted team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer.

“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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