Perez says he ‘didn’t understand the strategy’ that left him P10 in Belgian GP
Racing Point may have come away from the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix with a double points finish. But Sergio Perez revealed after the race that he’d been left mystified by a strategy call that saw him fail to pit under the Safety Car, and forced him to fight back from last place.
After starting the race on softs from P8, Perez was one of just two drivers who elected not to pit under the Safety Car brought out for a crash involving Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell on Lap 10 of the race at Spa.
But while his fellow non-stopper Pierre Gasly and he were able to hold fourth and fifth at the subsequent restart, Perez quickly found himself a sitting duck for cars that had pitted under the Safety Car, as he was passed in quick succession by Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon before eventually pitting on Lap 18, emerging 17th and last.
And although Perez was then able to recover to 10th by the end of the race, one place down on team mate Lance Stroll, he confessed on social media that Racing Point’s decision not to pit him under the Safety Car had left him puzzled.
“I didn't understand the strategy either,” he told his Twitter followers in Spanish. “I had to come back from last place! [But] we rescued a point for the championship.”
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Later, Perez reflected on Racing Point’s general lack of pace across Saturday and Sunday, which saw him and Stroll start a disappointed eighth and ninth, while their race pace then appeared to be lacking compared to their rivals at Renault and McLaren.
“The task now is to go away and understand why we weren’t able to maintain the pace we had at the beginning of the weekend through qualifying and the race,” said Perez, who’d ended Free Practice 2 in fifth place. “We were able to make up places after our pit stop and get back into the points, and it was nice to be able to make a few overtakes out there.
“But overall, we just didn’t have enough pace today, so we need to make sure we come back stronger at Monza next weekend. It’s a track that should suit us, and I’m hopeful we can score good points there.”
Racing Point’s race pace struggles were underlined when both Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly were able to pass Lance Stroll in the final eight laps of the race, leaving Stroll ninth at the flag. And CEO and Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer said Racing Point needed to analyse why the race pace that many felt had earmarked the team as potential podium threats had failed to manifest itself.
“Getting two cars home inside the points was the goal today, but we had hoped to be higher up the order at the end,” said Szafnauer. “We need to understand why we were not as strong in the final stages of the race where we lost some positions in the final few laps.
“I think strategically the Safety Car presented some difficult decisions for everybody,” he added. “At the time it was questionable whether a one-stop race was possible at that point. That was why we kept Sergio out under the Safety Car in the hope that he would have a tyre advantage at the end compared to our competition.
"We will take away the lessons learned this afternoon to come back stronger in Italy next week.”
Racing Point scoring just three points in Belgium to McLaren’s six – for Lando Norris’ P7 – meant that McLaren moved ahead of their rivals to third in the constructors’ standings, with Racing Point now trailing by just two points.
Constructors' standings after the 2020 Belgian GP
|2 Red Bull Racing||158|
|4 Racing Point||66|
|8 Alfa Romeo Racing||2|
|9 Haas F1 Team||1|