Q3 return the target after upgrades put Racing Point back in Friday top 10
“It’s been a while.” That was Lance Stroll’s telling observation after both he and team mate Sergio Perez took their heavily-revised Racing Point cars to top-10 finishes in Friday practice in Germany.
And if they can do the same on Saturday afternoon at Hockenheim, it will be the first time a pink machine has featured in Q3 since Perez qualified fifth for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix back in April.
“It’s good to see we’re on the upper end of the sheets for a change on a Friday, so that’s always a good start to the weekend,” said Stroll, who was seventh fastest, just eight-tenths down on pacesetter Charles Leclerc.
Like many rivals, Racing Point have brought a significant upgrade package to Germany, with some parts only arriving overnight ahead of Friday’s sessions, and more to come before FP3 on Saturday. Among the changes are new bargeboards, floor, sidepods and engine cover.
“The signs look good up to now,” added Stroll, before sounding a note of caution around just how representative Friday’s very hot running will prove to be. “It’s early days. It’s very different track temperatures and conditions to what we’re going to experience tomorrow and Sunday.”
Nevertheless, the Canadian – who has been eliminated from qualifying in Q1 at the last 14 Grands Prix – was optimistic that the improvements could translate into strong form come Sunday.
“Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been very happy with the car today and looking at the times, it shows. That’s what we have to carry through to the race.”
Perez was 10th fastest on Friday, just two-tenths off his team mate, and the Mexican declared a return to qualifying’s top-10 shootout had to be Racing Point’s goal after the promise shown by their latest upgrades.
“I think we’re looking good,” he said. “Hopefully we can maintain the level of competitiveness that we’ve shown today. Obviously tomorrow is going to be a very different scenario. We’re aiming for Q3 after the strong day we had today. We’ll see after tomorrow where realistically we are.”
Racing Point certainly need the boost. Since the aforementioned Baku race, Stroll’s two points in Canada have been the only addition to the team’s scoresheet, leaving them a lowly seventh in the constructors’ standings.