Perez happy with solid points haul in Austria

The BWT Racing Point team started the long-awaited 2020 Formula One season in encouraging form as Sergio Perez finished sixth at the Austrian Grand Prix.

It could have been even better for the Mexican, who was in position to challenge for a podium in the closing laps having started from fifth on the grid, but he was unable to hold off a charging Charles Leclerc and the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz at the finish as two late safety cars bunched up the field.

“We had to fight hard today and we had strong pace,” said Perez in his team’s post-race press release. “Sixth place is a good way to start the season, but we could have finished even higher. We were unlucky with the safety cars, but it’s easy to say after the race that we should have pitted a second time. I had to defend from drivers on fresher tyres in the final laps, which was a challenge.

“However, this was a good race to learn plenty about the car and our performance. The main positive is that we have a competitive package and I think we can be fighting for another strong result here next week.”

The pace of the RP20 was apparent for all to see from Friday’s opening free practice session, and Lance Stroll also made it through to Q3 without too many dramas. But during a race that saw nine retirements, it will have come as a disappointment that the Canadian couldn’t also see the chequered flag for a double points haul.

“After such a long break from racing, it was important to start our season with a handful of points with Sergio in sixth place,” commented Otmar Szafnauer, CEO & Team Principal. “It’s frustrating to see a podium slip away in the final few laps, but it was difficult to hold off those cars with a tyre advantage. With so many safety car interruptions, we had some difficult decisions to make and we chose to preserve track position rather than pit.

“The cars behind us effectively had free pit stops and could react to what we did – pitting when we chose to stay out. That was certainly the case with the McLarens and Leclerc. It was disappointing to see Lance retire early when the car started to lose power. The investigation is underway on what caused that, but ultimately, after attempting to fix the problem through mode changes failed, protecting the power unit was the priority.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.