Otmar Szafnauer felt the Racing Point F1 Team had the pace to finish with both cars in the points in last Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix but circumstances out of their control meant only one – Sergio Pérez – achieved a top ten finish.
Pérez began at the back of the field following a grid penalty, brought on by an engine change following his on-track stoppage during Qualifying, but the Mexican was in superb form to score points for a second consecutive weekend.
He was also able to hold off over the closing laps the challenge of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, meaning that Pérez was able to finish an excellent seventh and move himself up to thirteenth in the Drivers’ Championship standings ahead of Lando Norris.
“We had a quick car today and really should have brought both cars home inside the points,” admitted Szafnauer. “Sergio made the most of the car’s pace and delivered a long first stint on the medium tyres before making his pit stop under the first Virtual Safety Car.
“He drove a very strong race thereafter and was always under pressure, especially in the final stint where he had to resist the challenge from Verstappen. Seventh place from P18 on the grid is an excellent turnaround.”
Lance Stroll’s race was heavily compromised by being hit by Sebastian Vettel at the Ascari chicane after the Scuderia Ferrari driver spun, and from being handed a drive-through penalty for re-joining the track in a dangerous manner.
Pierre Gasly was the unfortunate driver to be forced off track himself by the Canadian, but Szafnauer felt the penalty handed to him by the stewards was unjustifiably harsh and left Stroll out of contention for the points.
“Lance’s race was destroyed when Vettel hit him in the Ascari chicane on lap seven,” said Szafnauer. “The subsequent undeservedly harsh penalty dropped Lance out of contention for the points.
“It’s a real shame because he had made a super start and was running comfortably in seventh place at the time. It was very unlucky: he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time!”