Lance Stroll felt helpless in the closing stages of the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday as he fell from seventh to ninth, just ahead of team-mate Sergio Pérez.
Spa-Francorchamps has traditionally been a strong circuit of the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team in recent years, but this year was a different story as they were not able to show the kind of pace they have done at other venues so far in 2020.
Stroll was feeling comfortable running inside the top seven but fell back in the closing laps behind Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly to finish ninth, and he hopes for a better result in next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“It was a difficult race today,” admitted Stroll. “We made a good start and gained a place, and we were looking comfortable in the first stint, but we had degradation in the second on the hard tyre and it was difficult to manage.
“We were running in P7 late on and I’m disappointed to have finished in P9 – but there was nothing I could do to hold onto a higher position. The positive is that we were able to score points on a challenging day regardless, and we’ve got a chance to improve and score more points next weekend at Monza.
“I think the circuit should suit our car, but we need to go away and analyse everything that happened today to find some solutions to ensure we hit the ground running at Monza.”
“Overall, we just didn’t have enough pace today” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Pérez completed the points scorers in tenth, and although he made a strange decision not to take to the pit lane during the safety car period to get rid of the soft compound tyres, he doesn’t feel it had any real bearing on the final result.
The Mexican was one of only two drivers not to pit when the safety car was deployed along with Gasly, but whereas the Frenchman was on the hard compound and was expected to run long, Pérez was on the softest tyre that had done a number of laps.
“It’s important we go away and review the strategy, but I don’t think it had a big bearing on the race as we were able to get both cars into the points – which is the positive from today,” said Pérez. “The task now is to go away and understand why we weren’t able to maintain the pace we had at the beginning of the weekend through qualifying and the race.
“We were able to make up places after our pitstop and get back into the points, and it was nice to be able to make a few overtakes out there! But overall, we just didn’t have enough pace today, so we need to make sure we come back stronger at Monza next weekend.
“It’s a track that should suit us, and I’m hopeful we can score good points there.”
“We had hoped to be higher up the order at the end” – Otmar Szafnauer
Otmar Szafnauer, the Team Principal at Racing Point, said the team achieved one of their goals to score points with both cars at Spa-Francorchamps, but they were hoping for better than ninth and tenth at the chequered flag.
The American says the team will need to look into why their pace disappeared on Sunday, particularly in the closing laps where they lost places to fall to the lower reaches of the top ten.
“Getting two cars home inside the points was the goal today, but we had hoped to be higher up the order at the end,” said Szafnauer. “We need to understand why we were not as strong in the final stages of the race where we lost some positions in the final few laps.
“I think strategically the safety car presented some difficult decisions for everybody. At the time it was questionable whether a one-stop race was possible at that point. That was why we kept Sergio out under the safety car in the hope that he would have a tyre advantage at the end compared to our competition.
“We will take away the lessons learned this afternoon to come back stronger in Italy next week. In terms of the standings, we’re now fourth but we’re only a couple of points off third, so we will work hard to reclaim that position in the coming races.”