With a new Formula 1 car inspired by last year’s Mercedes, the Racing Point team is ambitious, so ambitious that it hopes to beat the Ferraris?
A few days ago, at the time of presenting their new car, still dressed in pink, the Racing Point team managers had announced their ambition for the Formula 1 season which will open in mid-March in Australia. Namely to climb from the seventh place of the manufacturers to fourth, behind the big three made up of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Except that since then, two days of testing in Barcelona have gone by and the team led by Lawrence Stroll since the summer of 2018 is starting to dream big, imagining itself capable of getting into this top tier. A mild euphoria, or a real ambition? Sources indicate that Renault, in particular, are worried.
One thing is clear, in Barcelona Sergio Perez kept up a furious pace, clocking times that systematically placed him in the top three on the timesheet at the end of the day. What also appears clear is that these results are linked to the relationship between the Racing Point and Mercedes.
The Mexican driver, incidentally, said on the numerous similarities between the two cars, namely last years’ Mercedes and this years’ Racing Point Mercedes.
“I hope that the Racing Point will perform as well as last year’s Mercedes. I think it’s still a little early to say that.
“We still have a lot of points to go over. But the team is working very hard and in the right direction I think.
“The car has real potential and with a little bit of success we can start the season very strong.” says Perez.
Racing Point’s technical director, Andrew Green, believes that the Mercedes W10, the 2019 world champion and the RP20 are the same thing, but the gamble was far from simple. “It was worth taking a risk,” he said on the Mortorsport website.
“We tore up what we’d done before, we started from scratch. Where should we start?” says Green,
“We weren’t going to look at the slowest car on the grid. We looked at the side of the fastest car, and we started from there. If it works, so much the better. If it doesn’t, we lose a year, but I don’t think we’re going to lose anything by not doing it.”
Perhaps one thing worth pointing out is the relationship that now exists between Racing Point and it’s primary owner, Lawrence Stroll – the head of a consortium that took over half way through the 2018 season, and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.
Indeed ex-Ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone remarked only last year that the pair of them are constantly together, leading to the speculation that if Mercedes decided to sell the works team, it could be Stroll who’d be part the takeover, possibly bringing in Aston Martin. Certainly, it wasn’t just Ecclestone who had predicted that. TJ13 wrote an article on that possibility, read more on that here.
If Mercedes Toto Wolff expects to lose works status in the coming year or so, as a shareholder of Mercedes AMG F1 team, it would be sensible of him to ensure that he had strong ties to a large and eager revenue source – namely Lawrence Stroll.
What is known in the paddock this year is that Lawrence Stroll and Racing Point have now have full access to Mercedes wind tunnel facility and by the looks of the new 2020 F1 car by Racing Point, a degree of access to the Mercedes aerodynamicists. One could even argue that Racing Point is actually a Mercedes B team.
All of which hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who have ambitions for that ‘best of the rest’ 4th place spot in the constructors’ Championship, Renault.
According to Germany’s Autobild, Renault will protest the Racing Point car in its entirety, for being an exact copy, or clone, of last year’s Mercedes W10 Championship winning car.
Copy to win? The method is nothing new in Formula One, where every car is scrutinised from tyres to chassis, with every good idea soon being used by others. Günther Steiner, the director of Haas, a direct competitor to Racing Point, was not quite as emotional about the situation at Racing Point and Mercedes:
“They use a lot of Mercedes parts on their car, so why would they copy a Red Bull? It’s the same for us. We buy a lot of parts from Ferrari. So which car are we going to copy? Ferrari, I guess…
“I mean, if you were copying a Toro Rosso or a Red Bull, it would be pretty stupid because you would be trying to invent something that doesn’t exist.”
It remains to be seen what position Ferrari will take if, by any chance, Racing Point manages to get ahead of them this season on several races. A distinct possibility at this stage of testing.
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