Lance Stroll said it was an encouraging day at the Hockenheimring on Friday, with the Racing Point F1 Team racer placing inside the top ten in both free practice sessions at the German circuit.
Stroll, who is still looking to escape Q1 in Qualifying for the first time since joining Racing Point, finished ninth fastest in the morning session before moving up to seventh in the afternoon, with the recent updates made to the RP19 seemingly giving the Canadian a feeling of progress.
“I felt happy with the car,” said Stroll. “It is early days, but it looks like we have made a step forward with the upgrade. You can see the car looks quite different and it’s encouraging to be in the top ten for both sessions.
“It’s only Friday, though, and there is lots of work to be done to carry this performance through until Sunday. Track temperatures were very hot, but looking at the forecast we could see a big change for the weekend.”
Team-mate Sergio Pérez, who has failed to score points in any of the previous six Grand Prix, missed out on the top ten in the morning session after ending eleventh fastest, but joined Stroll inside the top ten in the afternoon.
The Mexican agrees with the Canadian that the new package direction has more potential than the previous set-up, and although it is only Friday, there seems to be an improved level of competitiveness from the Silverstone-based team this weekend.
“A good day, I have to say,” admitted Pérez. “I was testing the new package, the same as my team-mate. It’s hard to compare with the old parts – especially with such high temperatures today – but it definitely feels like an improvement.
“The car feels better and I think this direction has more potential. We’re still struggling a little bit with the balance, so it was tricky at times and we have some work to do on that tonight – but generally we can be pleased with the level of competitiveness.
“I’m always careful not to draw conclusions from just one day, so let’s see what happens in qualifying.”
Otmar Szafnauer, the CEO and Team Principal of Racing Point, praised the mechanics and engineers for fast-tracking the new aerodynamic parts for the RP19, some of which only arrived at track hours before action began on Friday morning.
“A busy Friday evaluating the new bodywork,” said Szafnauer. “We had parts on the car that only arrived this morning and more things coming overnight, and I want to give credit to everybody in the team who has worked hard to fast-track these changes.
“Initial feedback from the drivers is positive and the data backs this up.”
Szafnauer believes the predicted weather on Saturday could spice up the Qualifying hour, but he knows Racing Point need to remain focused to ensure they get the best out of their package regardless of whether it rains or not on Saturday.
“There is a big question mark over the weather tomorrow with rain showers predicted, which would make for an interesting qualifying hour,” said Szafnauer. “Either way, we expect cooler conditions than we’ve seen today.”