Racing Point aiming for ‘best of the rest’ status in 2020

by Sudha Sundararaj

The Racing Point F1 team finished seventh in the 2019 FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. This was the first full season under the Lawrence Stroll-led management for the Silverstone-based team.

The Racing Point team had endured through a turbulent season in 2018. The team which was then known as Force India went into administration mid-season. The Stroll-led consortium rescued the team when they bought the team and renamed it as the Racing Point F1 team.

A large cash injection in 2019 from the new owners helped the struggling team. But the difficulties in 2018 put a damper on the team’s performance last season.

This is a small team with a track record of punching above its weight always. In 2016 and 2017, the team finished in fourth position and was easily ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams.

The team is hoping to get back to that position in 2020. Seasoned veteran Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll will continue their driver pairing for the second season in a row. Lawrence Stroll has taken a 16.7% stake in Aston Martin and the Racing Point team will become the Aston Martin works team in 2021.

For a team which has always lived under the shadow of impending financial doom, the future looks stable and promising. The team can look forward to recovering lost ground in the 2020 season.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer speaking to said: “I think now we’re normal, so next year I think you’ll see a car, even at the beginning of the year, that should be where where we normally are, which is the best of the rest.

“That’s what we’ve got to aim to do. It isn’t gonna be easy, because everybody wants to be best of the rest: McLaren, Renault, Toro Rosso, us and Sauber. Everyone’s aiming for that – although some are even aiming for top three despite there still being a gap.”

The former Force India team has always had a strong technical team and decent infrastructure. The recent investments have helped the team improve on both fronts. Szafnauer said: “CFD capabilities are up there with the best, Wind tunnel capabilities are up there with the best. So all that infrastructure that you need is there.

“We’ve also added machinery such that from [a design] concept to being on the car, that time is reduced. So that helps. We’ve added technical capability as well.

“We’ve added some good guys in our aero department and CFD, for example. We’re at 465 people now instead of 405. And we don’t hire just for the sake of hiring. We’ve got to hire the right people.

“All those things we couldn’t have done before with our financial situation, but we can do now. And all those things are important.”

Formula 1 needs the Racing Point F1 team and the second-level teams behind the top three teams to be more competitive in 2020.

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