Sunday, September 27, 2020

1 Racing Mind’s 2020 Formula 1 Mid-Season Team Report Card: Racing Point

Photo Credit: Mark Sutton LAT Images/Pirelli

Team Grade: A-

Driver’s Grade:

Lance Stroll: B+ 

Sergio Perez: B-

Summary of First Nine Races:

Following a mediocre first full season last year, Racing Point has picked up the pace drastically for 2020. With Mercedes-Benz power, a driving lineup consisting of the young Canadian Lance Stroll and dependable Mexican driver Sergio Perez, the team has been a regular mainstay in the top-10 of the running order. The 2020 Italian Grand Prix marked the Racing Point organization’s first podium. However, the on-track success for Racing Point has also been accompanied with a sense of mockery.

At the start of this year, many observers quickly took note of Racing Point’s RP20 race car design attempting to draw comparisons to the Mercedes-AMG team’s 2019 machine (the Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+). The similarities between the two cars have even resulted to the Racing Point entry being deemed a ‘Pink Mercedes’. While speculation on the appearance of the RP20 in pre-season testing was largely dealt with as comical, Renault’s protest of the cars’ rear brake ducts after the Styrian Grand Prix was no laughing matter. Racing Point was docked 15 constructors’ points and received a monetary fine of 400,000 euros from Formula 1's sanctioning body the FIA. The team sits in fourth place in the 2020 Formula 1 Constructors Championship following nine races.     

The 2020 success of Racing Point has started to mute the outspoken critics of Lance Stroll. Although the 21-year-old Canadian has won championships in Italian F4, the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand and the FIA European F3 series, his career in Formula 1 has involved a sizable amount of social media detraction. Since Lawrence Stroll (Lance Stroll’s father) is part of the current ownership group behind Racing Point, some insist his place in the sport is due to nepotism and not merit. A competent racer on Sunday, Lance Stroll’s Achilles’ heel has been qualifying on Saturday. This year, his performance in qualifying is vastly improved missing out on Q3 only once in the first nine races.

With ten seasons in Formula 1, Sergio Perez has been effectively in the same ride since 2014 when Racing Point operated as Sahara Force India. Perez has performed an impressive feat of finishing in the points for every race he has started in 2020 season. Contracting COVID-19 ahead of the British Grand Prix, the Mexican missed both races at Silverstone. Nico Hulkenberg was called in to substitute for the British Grand Prix and the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix scoring a seventh place result in the latter event.

Prediction for Rest of the 2020 Season:

Racing Point has gained many of the important ingredients to become not only a regular top-10 runner but ideally a podium contender. In fact, it is a surprise or the team’s infancy that they have only captured one podium this season. A race victory for Racing Point may not be completely out of the question but is somewhat a long-odd gamble. Announced to be leaving Racing Point, Sergio Perez could be a very popular race winner if presented with an opportunity similar to that granted to Pierre Gasly at Monza. The Mexican’s attention-grabbing second-place finish in the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix for Sauber remains his best Formula 1 outing.   

Undergoing a massive transition over the course of two years, Racing Point is preparing for more changes coming in 2021. Along with renaming the team Aston Martin, the squad’s driver lineup will pair Sebastian Vettel with Lance Stroll next season. 

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