Lance Stroll will start the British Grand Prix from sixth on the grid and on the medium Pirelli tyre, although the Canadian will have wanted more from his RP20.
The BWT Racing Point Formula One Team came into the weekend expecting to be up where they were two weeks ago where they locked out the second row of the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but with conditions made tricky due to the high winds, Stroll was not able to do better than a position on row three of the grid.
Stroll says the team will be looking into the reasons why they were not as strong in Qualifying as they were expecting to be, particularly on the back of their pace on Friday, but the goal remains to score a good amount of points on Sunday afternoon.
“The positive today is that we’re starting P6 tomorrow and our strategy worked out – meaning we have the advantage of starting on the medium tyre and that should help us fight some of the cars around us,” said Stroll.
“We’re definitely in a position to fight for another good bunch of points, and that’s the goal. We looked stronger in practice yesterday, so we need to go away and understand how we can come back stronger tomorrow.
“It was difficult to find the optimum balance of the car today, and that affected us in the first sector – we lost a little bit of time there in qualifying. The temperature and wind conditions were different today and were quite changeable, so that was a challenge to work around as well.
“Overall, I’m happy with our position and tomorrow is another day. I’m confident we can make some positive steps overnight and be in good shape for our home race.”
‘Big Ask’ to Immediately Perform – Nico Hülkenberg
Team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, only brought into the team on Thursday evening following the positive coronavirus test of regular driver Sergio Pérez, missed out on advance into the top ten shootout by the narrowest of margins, although the German was happy with his performance.
Hülkenberg came into the weekend without any knowledge of the RP20, only having his seat fitting on Thursday night and a small simulator run on Friday morning before hitting the track for first practice. He ended up thirteenth fastest, less than half a tenth of a second off advancing into Q3.
The German, who last raced in Formula 1 in the final race of the 2019 season in Abu Dhabi, says he is beginning to learn more about the RP20 the more laps he does, and he hopes he can bring home some points for the team on Sunday.
“We were so close to making it to Q3, and I’m happy with that considering I’ve come in from the cold this weekend!” said Hülkenberg. “It’s a big ask after eight months away to come back and jump into a completely different environment – and into a Formula 1 car I’ve never driven before and immediately perform.
“Especially when Silverstone is such a high-speed challenge and the conditions were changeable throughout the day. That meant it was a little bit of a shock to the system today, and it was tricky to hook up the laps perfectly – especially in the first sector.
“It was a challenge to use both the soft and medium tyre in Q2 and maintain the rhythm, but we almost made the strategy work – which shows the team and I are working well together. I’m also starting to get an understanding of the car, so the goal is to keep learning and adapting quickly. We’ll do our homework tonight and aim to score good points tomorrow.”
‘Strategic Benefits’ made Medium Tyre Gamble in Q2 Worthwhile – Otmar Szafnauer
Otmar Szafnauer, the Team Principal and CEO of Racing Point, says they took an ‘aggressive’ approach to Qualifying to attempt to get Stroll through into the top ten shootout on the medium compound of tyre.
Szafnauer said the strategic benefits of starting on the medium tyre made the risk ‘worthwhile’, so it was pleasing to see the Canadian advance into the top ten.
“We took an aggressive approach to qualifying today with Lance running on the medium tyres in Q2,” said Szafnauer. “It was a difficult call, but we felt the strategic benefits for the race made the risk worthwhile. Lance made it work and progressed to Q3.
“Lance wasn’t totally happy with his Q3 lap, but sixth place on the grid sets us up nicely for our home race.”
Whilst Stroll did make it through, Hülkenberg did not, but Szafnauer feels the German did a good job in the circumstances, particularly as he had not driven the car at all before Friday practice.
“Nico didn’t quite make the top ten – which is understandable given that he’s been thrown in at the deep end and only drove the car for the first time yesterday,” said Szafnauer. “From P13, with competitive race pace, I’m confident he can score points tomorrow.
“The margins were very close today – which shows how competitive the entire grid is this year – and it will be the same tomorrow. I think we can take the fight to the teams around us and come away with another strong result.”