Otmar Szafnauer felt the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team made the right calls when it came to the early pit stops during the Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday, with the team claiming a fourth and seventh place finish for Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez.
Every driver that started on the grid began the race on the intermediate Pirelli tyres, but before long it became clear that slicks were the way to go, and both drivers jumped into the pit lane on the end of the third lap to make the change.
Szafnauer, the Team Principal and CEO at Racing Point, was pleased with how the team reacted to the changeable conditions, and with the start made by Stroll, who ran as high as second in the early laps before Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen jumped ahead of the Canadian.
“The rain showers ahead of the start certainly changed the complexion of the race and made things more challenging for everyone,” said Szafnauer. “Lance had a strong start moving up to second, but Sergio suffered from wheelspin and dropped down to seventh.
“The track was ready for dry tyres almost immediately and I think we pitted at the opportune time – certainly in sync with the cars we were racing.”
Szafnauer felt it would have been difficult for Stroll to maintain his position on the podium such was the pace advantage of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Valtteri Bottas, but the Canadian drove strongly all weekend to finish fourth.
The misfortune that befell Pérez at the start meant the Mexican was always going to be in for a tough afternoon, and despite having a faster-looking car than the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Alexander Albon, he was forced to finish behind them both in seventh.
“As the race settled down, Lance was in contention for a podium, but it proved difficult to hold off the recovering Mercedes of Bottas,” said the American. “The eventual fourth place for Lance is an excellent result following a mature drive to complete a very strong weekend.
“Checo’s seventh-place finish was a legacy of the poor start and he spent most of the afternoon in the wheel tracks of Vettel and Albon. It proved difficult to follow cars closely, let alone overtake – even with a pace advantage.
“The 18 points scored consolidate our fourth place in the championship and we’re actually tied on 40 points with the third-placed team. This result is an important reward for the entire team’s efforts – both here in Budapest and back home in the UK.”