July 3, 2020 – Racing Point made a good impression on Friday in Austria. The competing teams see the racing stable as fast as was feared after the winter tests, but Sergio Perez refuses to draw conclusions after the first two free practice sessions.
After the first official day of the Formula 1 season, Racing Point found its racing cars in third and seventh positions. Sergio Perez conceded six tenths to fastest man Lewis Hamilton on P3, while Lance Stroll was less than two tenths slower than his teammate. Racing Point caused a stir in the winter tests with the RP20, which looks like two drops of water to the Mercedes W10 that won both world titles in 2019. Competitors feared that the team would take a big step forward with the new car and Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen saw those fears come true on Friday.
“I would say they were as fast as we feared,” the Dane replied to a question from Motorsport.com about Racing Point’s performance. “They look fast, but you don’t know during the tests if they drove a glory run with barely any fuel and the softest tires. But they seem to live up to expectations.” Magnus’ teammate, Romain Grosjean, learned after an analysis of the long runs that there may be more to Racing Point than competing for third podium. “I haven’t looked at the timing in detail yet, but I’ve heard they have the same reason as [Valtteri] Bottas – that Sergio rode the same times as Bottas in the long runs. “
McLaren was one of Racing Point’s direct competitors in 2019, but Carlos Sainz Jr. do not expect his team to compete with the Canadian formation at the moment. “Racing Point was very fast today,” said the Spaniard. “We expected them to be quick, but the lead they had on the rest of the middle bracket on such a short track was impressive. In my opinion, they are too far away for us to try to fight.”
Perez dampens expectations
Although he ended the day as number 3 in the times list, Perez remains cautious about what is possible for Racing Point. The Mexican cites the small differences in the middle bracket. “We are still a good half second behind and on such a short circuit the Ferraris, Red Bulls, Renaults and McLaren are within a tenth of us. So we should not count ourselves rich. The margins are extremely small, so hopefully we can have a great lap tomorrow in qualifying. “
Yet Perez couldn’t help but admit that his team has made a huge leap from last season. “We have to look at it step by step, but I think we have closed the gap to the top teams. Last year we started to catch up, but now I think we can start the fight. It’s a great car, it’s team did an excellent job in the factory and we have a car that works well. ”