SportPesa Racing Point finishes season in style with points in Abu Dhabi

For Acronis partner team SportPesa Racing Point, the 2019 season has been one of new beginnings, a fresh sheet of paper and new challenges.

With the rebranding and restructuring process from Sahara Force India to SportPesa Racing Point came the inevitable ‘bedding in’ process, as is the case with all companies. It didn’t represent a bad return, then, for the team to ultimately finish seventh in the constructors’ standings, just 12 points behind Toro Rosso.

The fine finish to the season was in no small part down to the form of Sergio Perez, the Mexican capping a run of eight points finishes in nine races with another excellent drive to P7 in Abu Dhabi.

Many of Perez’s drives this season has seen him having to fight his way through the field from out of the points and Yas Marina proved no exception, as he lost position at the start before battling back through the pack, ending with a final lap overtake on McLaren’s Lando Norris as his fresher hard tyres came into optimum operating range by the finish.

“The first part of my race was a bit messy,” said Perez in his team’s race review. “I got a big hit from Gasly into Turn 1, which meant that I lost a position to Magnussen. Because the DRS wasn’t enabled at the start, we lost a bit of time behind him, but I managed to overtake even without DRS. After a long first stint, we had to push hard to catch up to the midfield group.

“We had a very strong end to the race and my final lap overtake on Norris in Turn 11 was one of the best of my career. The six points we scored means that I have finished inside the top 10 in the Drivers’ Championship and I’m pleased we could do that. I cannot wait to start next season already.”

For teammate Lance Stroll, the race represented another case of what might have been, and had the Canadian’s luck held this season, the team could well have finished higher up in the standings. Even so, he still managed six points scoring finishes with the obvious highlight being a superb fourth in the German Grand Prix.

Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly tangle at the start of the race

“I had contact on the first lap with Gasly and had to pit because of the damage to my front wing,” added Stroll. “After that, we were out of position, running down the order, and it was really hard to get back into contention. We explored the strategy options and I stopped twice, but when you lose so much time early on by changing the front wing, it’s difficult to recover. Unfortunately, we had a brake issue so we have to see what went wrong because I was struggling to stop the car. That’s why we retired. All in all, just a disappointing race.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.