Sergio Pérez: “There is still a lot at stake”

by Tom Cairns
Lance Stroll - SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team in the 2019 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix - Autódromo José Carlos Pace - Race

Racing Point F1 Team make the trip to the Yas Marina Circuit for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The Silverstone-based team had a tough time at the previous round in Brazil, a race that had totally against them, especially with their rivals Toro Rosso Honda and Alfa Romeo Racing scoring heavily. Racing Point ultimately came away with only two points.

Lance Stroll retired after leftover debris from a collision between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc broke the Canadian’s front suspension and pulled to the side of the track immediately.

The second half of the season has been difficult for Stroll, as he has only notched up three points since that impressive fourth place finish in Germany in July. He is aiming to make sure that he ends his first season with Racing Point on a high by delivering a positive performance in Abu Dhabi.

“Abu Dhabi is the season finale and the organisers always put on quite a show. The track layout isn’t my favourite, but the event is always a lot of fun – it’s a great place to go racing,” Stroll said.

“The infrastructure is impressive and it’s arguably the best that we have in Formula 1. What they’ve done with the event is amazing.
 
“The track in Abu Dhabi is quite challenging. It’s a long lap with plenty of corners and the high temperatures make it very demanding on the tyres. The most technical part of the lap is the middle sector and particularly the chicanes. It’s important to get your braking point just right and you also need to ride the kerbs.
 
“Overtaking can be quite challenging, but that’s the same as most circuits. As always, we’re going to try and pick off as many places as we can. The twilight conditions in Abu Dhabi are unique but I’m pretty zoned in from start to finish so it’s not really a distraction. You almost forget you’re driving in the evening because the lights work so well.”

Lance Stroll & Sergio Pérez - SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team in the 2019 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix - Autódromo José Carlos Pace - Race
Credit: SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team

Sergio Pérez goes into the final race in contention to finish in the top ten in the Drivers’ Championship. The Mexican is one point ahead of eleventh place Lando Norris and three ahead of Kimi Räikkönen in twelfth, who look most realistic to topple the twenty-nine year old.

Pérez will be hoping the long straights and hard braking zones on the Yas Marina Circuit will suit the RP19.

“It’s important we end the season on a high in Abu Dhabi. It’s been a long year and there is still a lot at stake. Brazil didn’t go well for us – even though we scored points – and we need to come back strong this weekend,” Pérez added.

“Yas Marina is a track that’s all about braking and traction. It’s hard on the brakes and you need to set up the car so that you have good rear stability. Good traction out of the corners is also important for a quick lap time. The long straights offer some overtaking opportunities but you need to be quite brave on the brakes. In the race, you often find yourself either attacking or defending, especially towards the end of the race.

“When you get to the final race you just need to keep focused on the job ahead. Everybody is starting to think about next year, but you want to finish the season well so that you can go on holiday feeling happy. Nobody wants to have a bad final race so we will do all we can to end the year with a strong performance.”

Racing Point have a fight on their hands to retain their seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship. They come to the United Arab Emirates eight points in front of Alfa Romeo, and a repeat of the drama in Brazil could transform the situation between the two teams on Sunday.

CEO and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer knows that it is realistically unlikely to catch sixth place Toro Rosso in the Constructors’ but he feels that a strong result on Sunday is the priority for the team.

“We’ve dusted ourselves down after a tough race in Brazil and are determined to bounce back with a better result in Abu Dhabi,” Szafnauer shared.

“It’s a circuit we’ve gone well at in the past – particularly with Checo, who has scored points there in every race with the team since he signed in 2014 – so we’re feeling positive heading into the weekend.
 
“The Yas Marina is a great setting for the season finale. Although it gets very hot during the day, the evening is much more pleasant and the circuit looks spectacular under the lights. They really know how to put on a show and the facility itself is first class, which I’m sure the whole paddock appreciates at the end of a long season.
 
“It’s been a transitional year for the team and optimism for 2020 is high. But for now, the focus is on scoring points this weekend. Reclaiming sixth place in the Championship will be a big task – but we all want to end 2019 on a positive note and will keep fighting until the very end.”

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