Racing Point drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were both thrilled with their new RP20 after the first day of testing.
Racing Point caught the eye on the opening day of testing after a particularly strong day for the new RP20. Having been the only team to not run their new car ahead of testing beginning, the morning session served as a shakedown run but was impressive as Sergio Perez vaulted himself up with a time good enough for P2 at lunchtime.
While he finished the day in P3 as Lewis Hamilton went faster for Mercedes in the afternoon, his best time on the C3 compound tyre was less than a tenth slower than what Valtteri Bottas managed in the same morning session.
The RP20 is understood to have drawn some criticism from ‘unnamed’ F1 rivals, due to its striking resemblance to the 2019 Mercedes in terms of design. However, design ‘inspiration’ is nothing new in Formula 1, and Perez wasn’t about to let some rival’s mutterings get him down as he spoke to reporters after his run.
“My first impressions of the new car are positive.” he said. “Obviously, there’s still a long way to go with a lot of things we have to get on top of – but it’s definitely a promising start. We spent the morning learning about the car and did a lot of aero testing with a couple of quick laps.”
“Putting mileage onto the car is really important, especially with a limited amount of testing days available, and we have already gathered good information for the engineers. Hopefully we can keep improving in the coming days.”
Having done 58 laps in the morning, Perez handed over the Racing Point over to teammate Lance Stroll for the afternoon. His session was much quieter by comparison, with mileage being his focus. He did 52 laps with a best time just under a second slower than what Perez managed, but used harder compound tyres on the C2.
“I feel good but it’s still early days.” Stroll explained afterwards. “We had a smooth afternoon and I completed over 200 kilometres of running without any problems. That’s the best way to start a test. It nice to be back behind the wheel again after the winter break.”
“The first day of testing is all about getting comfortable and clocking up the laps on the car. There’s a lot of work ahead of us over the next couple of weeks – but there’s a good atmosphere in the garage after day one.”
“As well as today being the first day of testing, it effectively acted as the shakedown of the RP20.” said Racing Point’s Performance Engineering Director Tom McCullough. “We were up late last night preparing the car – but we managed to take to the track for our first installation laps more or less on time. I have to thank the crew in Barcelona and everybody back at base for their hard work.”
“Today we focussed on completing systems checks and putting mileage on the car. Later on we also began the aero mapping. The feedback from Checo and Lance has been positive and there were no significant dramas during the day.”