After a tough 2018 season, which saw the team going into administration, 2019 would be a fresh start. The team started off with a 2018 chassis and added a few 2019 parts that were mandated by the new rules.
Since the car wasn’t a full 2019-spec car, the gathered data wouldn’t showcase the true potential but the signs were there to have a decent season.
Australia. On Saturday, it became clear that Perez had a better feeling with the car than Stroll did as the Mexican qualified in 10th while the Canadian got stuck in Q1 and had to start from 16th on the grid. After the finish flag dropped on Sunday, the tables were turned as Stroll finished in 8th position while Perez went backwards to come home in 13th
Bahrain. On Saturday, Perez proved once again that he was better during qualifying as he progressed to Q2 and got himself a 14th starting position. Stroll couldn’t get the lap together and had to settle with 18th position on the grid. On Sunday, Perez made the best of it and scored a point by finishing 10th while Stroll couldn’t manage to climb any higher than 14th.
China. Qualifying on Saturday was another win for Perez over Stroll as Perez stranded in Q2 with a 12th grid slot. Stroll, however, couldn’t get out of Q1 again and had to start in 16th. Sunday was a good day for Perez as he finished 8th while Stroll did his best but couldn’t make up enough ground and crossed the finish line in 12th.
Baku. The race with the long straight should help Racing Point as they have the strong Mercedes engine. Perez, once again, showed potential as he qualified on 5th position. Stroll, however, couldn’t get out of Q1, again, but would start in 14th, due to exclusions from Raikkonen and Gasly. Sunday proved to be different as Perez lost some ground to finish 6th but Stroll, who stood on the podium in Baku once before, showed he liked the track as he battled his way through the field to cross the finish line in 9th position.
Spain. The circuit which sees most teams bring all kinds of upgrades and updates but Racing Point only brought updates as they were still using the 2018 car with 2019 parts. During qualifying on Saturday, it showed many teams made progress as both drivers were losing ground with Perez ending up in 15th while Stroll got stuck in Q1 again, having to start from 17th. On Sunday, it went from bad to worse as Stroll got a DNF, due to a collision while Perez struggled to a 15th position.
Monaco. It was a tall order on Saturday as both drivers couldn’t get the car in the sweetspot and Perez had to settle with 17th while Stroll lined up behind Perez in 18th. The Sunday in Monaco could always bring a few surprises but not for Racing Point. Perez got up to 12th at the finish but Stroll even dropped behind the Williams and crossed the finish line in 16th.
6 races done and before we head over to Canada, a quick thought. The car isn’t performing at its best and both drivers struggle too much to get the car working like they want it to. Perez is still the faster one on Saturday but Stroll seems to have better races on Sunday. If both drivers could take something from one another, they could have a better continuation of the season in Canada. The wait is still on the full 2019 spec car but at least data has been gathered throughout the first 6 races.
Canada. Starting off with qualifying on Saturday, and the team was really hurt by the lack of upgrades as Perez and Stroll didn’t get out of Q1. Perez got to start from 16th while Stroll would line up directly behind Perez on the grid in 18th. Canada however, sometimes gives the strangest races and so both drivers did their best to fight their way up the field. This meant that Perez finished 12th, but the surprise of the day was Stroll, who scored points for the Silverstone based team as he finished in 9th position.
France. Back in Europe on a circuit that looks more like large parking-lot with paint all over it but the team was determined to make the best of it. Another disappointment as Stroll didn’t make it out of Q1 again and had to start 18th while Perez did a little better to start from 14th. Maybe Sunday would go a bit better but it was another pointless race as Perez finished 12th, 1 place in front of Stroll, who managed a 13th place finish.
Austria. On Saturday it was clear that the team was desperate for a large upgrade as both drivers couldn’t get out of Q1. Perez was slightly better in 16th than Stroll in 17th so it seemed they both took the maximum out of the car. Sunday proved to be a fun race for a lot of teams but Racing Point just missed out on the fun as Perez crossed the finish in 11th position while Stroll got stuck in 14th.
England. On Saturday, rumours started that Racing Point could have large upgrades from Germany onwards but the weekend on Silverstone, home of the Racing Point team, had to be conquered first. During qualifying, it didn’t look good as Stroll was out in Q1 again and had to start in 18th while Perez was slowest in Q2 so started in 15th position. It had to be done on Sunday. Friends and family of team members were invited and the spirits were high. It didn’t help because Stroll finished outside the points in 13th but Perez his day was even worse when he came in last, in 17th position.
Germany. A weekend with changing weather conditions could mix things up but before the weekend started, Racing Point announced a major upgrade. The chassis would still be the same but almost everything else would be new. The tide seemed to be turning as on Saturday, Perez qualified in 8th but more surprisingly, Stroll got out of Q1 and started the race in 15th position. Sunday started in wet and during the race dried up, mixed with a little drizzle. Although Perez dropped it on lap 1 and spun out of the race, Stroll finished an impressive 4th and scored some good points for the team.
Hungary. Another upgrade for the team as they brought a new suspension set-up. Both drivers had to get used to it as on Saturday, both didn’t get out of Q1 and Perez had to settle with 17th starting position while Stroll got 19th. Sunday became a race about “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” but ended up with Perez in 11th and Stroll in 17th, 2 laps down.
Now it’s the summer break so what did we learn so far?
Racing Point is slowly dialling in the 2019 car. Perez is faster than Stroll on a Saturday but comes short on Sunday, looking at overall positions gained. They have a good engine so if they can get all thing lined up and get the car in the perfect operating window, both Perez and Stroll should be able to extract more out of the car.
I expect Perez to do so but personally, I still have my reservations with Stroll but with his dad owning the team, I don’t see Stroll out of F1 in 2020. Being 8th in the constructors’ championship, just 1 point behind Alfa Romeo and 8 points behind Renault, the Silverstone based team has all to play for in the second half of the season.