Perez looking to sacrifice one-lap pace to improve Racing Point points haul in Bahrain
Third and fourth on the timing screens in the two Friday practice sessions in Bahrain were eye-catching results from Sergio Perez. But fresh off his maiden podium of the season at the Turkish Grand Prix, the Mexican suggested that his Racing Point team might be too fast over one lap around Bahrain – and that they should perhaps field a more race-focused RP20 car for the rest of the weekend.
Perez took a fine second at Istanbul Park last time out as Racing Point regained third in the constructors’ championship, while Perez himself moved into fourth in the drivers’ standings. The Mexican continued that form with his performance on Friday in Bahrain too – but he doesn’t want the focus to be on how quick his car is over one lap…
“I think it was a good start but the margins are extremely tight,” Perez said. “Two-tenths or one tenth makes a big difference, so we will see what happens tomorrow in qualifying. Although qualifying is not so important, I think having a good race pace here is key.”
Currently looking like the quickest midfield car, Perez even went as far as to say that Racing Point should sacrifice some of their one-lap potential in order to give themselves the best possible chance in the race on Sunday, after the long runs in FP2 were interrupted by red flags.
“[Practice] was quite a bit short but we managed to try all of the compounds – medium and soft – so we have a good idea. We’re just going through everything tonight, seeing what the best start tyre is and if we’re ready to give away something in qualifying and so on. So there’s still plenty to play for at the moment.
“I think the one that has the best tyre management come Sunday and the best race pace is going to be the winner. I think tomorrow is not so crucial, everything should be focused for Sunday.”
Team mate Lance Stroll was also in the top 10 in both sessions – 0.4s off Perez in FP2 – and echoed the importance of focusing on Sunday’s possibilities.
“The car feels good, we looked pretty competitive today,” Stroll said. “A few things to work on tonight for tomorrow but all in all I think we looked pretty good today.
“For sure [tyre degradation is a big factor], it’s going to be an interesting race in terms of strategy so we’ll see what happens.”
Racing Point head into Sunday’s race five points clear of closest rivals McLaren in the fight for P3, meanwhile – while they're a full 18 ahead of next-best team Renault.