Lawrence Stroll has taken team ‘to a different level’ since Force India days, says Perez
Sergio Perez looked like one of the most settled and secure drivers on the grid heading into 2020, having penned a long-term contract extension at Racing Point that would see him drive for the team until the end of 2022.
Then everything changed. With Ferrari deciding not to retain Sebastian Vettel, Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll saw an unexpected chance to bring a four-time world champion on board as he relaunches his team as the Aston Martin works squad for 2021.
In came Vettel to drive alongside Lawrence’s son Lance, meaning there was no room for Perez. But rather than hold any bitterness at the team owner’s decision, Perez instead had plenty of praise for Stroll for his transformative effect on the outfit formerly known as Force India.
Stroll bought the team out of administration in 2018 – a situation Perez himself helped bring about – before renaming it Racing Point, and beginning to invest in the squad and their facilities.
All of that eventually helped Perez to take an emotional maiden victory for himself and the team in the Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain – and the Mexican was quick to highlight Stroll’s contribution to that success.
“A lot of credit to the team because they gave me a car this year that I can show what I’m capable of, so that’s something very special,” Perez said at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
“And also big credit to Lawrence, because when he came to the team, thanks to him, in a way, this victory came through, because he’s taken the whole team into a different level, with the level of investment he’s done, and I’ve been able to take advantage of that with that win.”
Perez has since been snapped up by Red Bull for the 2021 season, but at the time of his win he was still a free agent looking for a drive, and he added that his victory was the perfect way to end his time with the team he has raced with for seven seasons.
“It’s something extremely nice for us. Such a history and such a nice end. Normally the ends are not very happy [endings], but I think this one is going to be because leaving that way the team that I’ve been [with] for seven years is definitely special, and it was a special day and a day we will never forget, so I’m pleased that I’m leaving the team on this high.”