TORONTO, Ontario — With a breath of fresh air felt due to the increased funding entering the 2019 campaign, SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team has their sights on finishing fourth in the year-end Formula 1 constructor’s standings.
“I think we are ready for at least fourth this year,” Perez told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “I think if you consider the level of competition that is at the mid-field with such a big teams and manufactures, it isn’t going to be easy. But I think it’s possible, and I would be very pleased if we could have a couple podiums as well.”
The goals may seem out there for a team that placed seventh just a year ago with Perez scoring 12 points-paying finishes out of the 21 events. However, the Mexican has surprised before, as noted with a podium finish in 2018 at Baku.
Lance Stroll, who joins the team after driving for Williams last year, only scored a pair of points-paying finishes last year with a season-best eighth at Baku.
“As he said, we want to be back on the podium and I’m prepared to help the team achieve that,” Stroll told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “We have a great group of people that have been putting in the work for a long time.”
The Canadian knows it won’t be easy, as being able to reach the podium is the goal for every other team every weekend.
“It’s the name of the game,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle, and every box needs to be checked to walk away on Sunday afternoon with a good result. But as a group of people at Racing Point, we can do it.”
The perspective of both drivers is echoed by team Principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer, who feels they have put the right pieces in place. Seeing that the team didn’t lose a single person through the administration process gives him hope that the bonding together, combined with the knowledge and dollars, will be what it takes.
However, he also isn’t one to shy away from the competition. Although Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari seem to have a strangle hold on the top-three positions, the mid-field has become a place of battle for Formula 1.
“The mid-field competition is high,” Szafnauer told POPULAR OPEN WHEEL. “You have Renault spending all sorts of money, twice the people that we have. McLaren shouldn’t be where they are – they will be strong. Williams shouldn’t be where they are. Haas has shown they can do the job with a little bit of help from Ferrari.
“I didn’t even get to Sauber – which is now Alfra Romero; they too collaborate a little bit. They had the highest development rate of any team, so they’re going to be fast as they have Kimi now. So it is tough. So there are no slouches.”
With knowing how much their competition is pushing the envelope, they are prepared to do the same.
“The level of drivers that we have is really high,” Perez said. “So to get the best out of a weekend, you have to be perfect.”
Perez is willing to put in the work necessary, as he knows it’ll be the perfect payment for those who stuck with it through the difficult times.
“I went through all the difficult years – last year was really difficult with all the administration,” he commented. “With this guy doing a fantastic job to keep this team together, I felt like I had to stick with the team and the best years are yet to come. So I’m really looking forward. Everybody in this team deserves results because they’ve worked so hard and been through such a difficult team.
“To have that loyalty in a team, that’s really special. It’s special to be traveling with my second family around the world and I look forward to having a lot of success together.”
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