It was mixed bag for Racing Point in F1 Chinese GP as Sergio Perez was happy to eke out points result while Lance Stroll rued the team’s strategy call.
Perez made a solid start to jump from 12th to eighth on the opening lap of F1 1000 race at Shanghai International Circuit, which eventually paved way for the Mexican to score points for the second consecutive race in the 2019 F1 season.
The start was all Perez needed as he made the one-stop strategy work like the drivers around him. Towards the end, he had stiff challenge from Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen while he chased Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo but none had extra legs to pass.
“It was a good start for me as given the pace of the car, that is what we have to do to try to get the most out there and try to score points,” said Perez to the media. “I saw a gap, went for it and it paid off. Our race pace was good.
“We were able to maintain the pace and manage the tyres well. It wasn’t an easy race, though, because I was under pressure from Kimi for most of the second stint, which made it more difficult to look after the tyres and keep up the pace.
“It was the same with Daniel ahead of me – I think he was working hard to manage his tyres because every time I got close to him, he found the pace to pull away again. This was never going to be our strongest track.
“And so, it’s important to take opportunities and keep scoring points.” While Perez had a happy face, it wasn’t so much for Stroll who rued the strategy call which cost him any chance of points despite showing good pace in the grand prix.
The Canadian felt he was left out for far too long ahead of the first stop which helped Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon gain track position with the Thai racer on one-stop. Towards the end, the team tried an alternate strategy to catch Albon but blue flags limited the chances.
“We were in front of Albon before the first stop and then he undercut us by one lap and finished in the points, so it’s a bit of a shame,” said Stroll. “We could have been more proactive, because we didn’t have anyone immediately in front of us.
“I think it was Sergio or Raikkonen ahead at the time, about five seconds up the road, so we weren’t really fighting anyone in front and we had Albon three seconds behind. It was just a classic undercut.
“It’s disappointing, because once that happened we were in his dirty air and it was tough to overtake. We tried an extra stop at the end and got past Magnussen to finish P12, but it could have been more.
“Our race pace was not bad but we just need to look at the strategy, because I think we may have been able to pick up a point.” The team conceded the strategy gamble did not pay for Stroll as points were indeed possible in hindsight.
“Lance was close to scoring points, but just didn’t have the track position to make the one-stop strategy pay off,” said technical head Andrew Green. “Losing out to Albon at the first pit stop proved costly and he spent most of the afternoon chasing the Toro Rosso.
“We switched Lance to a two-stop strategy late in the race – taking a gamble – and giving him the final few laps on the soft tyre. He managed to pass Magnussen on the final lap, but there were a lot of blue flags to deal with which made things tricky.”
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Alexander Albon made the strategy call to score points