'We’ll come back stronger as Aston Martin' says Racing Point boss Szafnauer after ‘a year of missed opportunities’
A lacklustre final race of the season for Racing Point saw them concede P3 in the constructors’ championship to McLaren, who turned a 10-point deficit heading into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix into a seven-point advantage after finishing the race P5 and P6. And for Racing Point Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer, the result neatly summed up a mixed 2020 season for his squad.
Racing Point would claim just one point at Yas Marina from Lance Stroll’s 10th place. That came after the Canadian was passed by Renault’s Esteban Ocon on the final lap – and with the stewards having investigated McLaren’s Carlos Sainz for holding up Stroll in the pit lane, before handing down a verdict of no further action – while for Sakhir Grand Prix race winner Sergio Perez, the race would last just 10 laps before a suspected MGU-K issue ruled him out of his last ever Grand Prix with the team.
“A difficult evening where things didn’t go our way,” said Szafnauer afterwards. “Lance’s race was heavily compromised by being held up by Sainz deliberately driving slowly in the pit lane, while Sergio retired on Lap 10 with a loss of power. Those developments left us facing an uphill task to retain third place in the constructors’ championship and we finished just seven points shy of that goal in the end.”
It brought to an end a tumultuous year for Racing Point, who claimed their first victory along with two podiums and a pole position for Lance Stroll in Turkey this season, but who similarly found themselves courting controversy, with the team docked 15 points and fined €400,000 at the start of the year after having been deemed to have copied Mercedes’ rear brake ducts.
But Szafnauer said he was focusing on the positives from 2020, ahead of the team morphing into the Aston Martin works squad for 2021, with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel set to come on board in place of Perez.
“It’s been a year of missed opportunities for several reasons – including more than our fair share of bad luck that cost us valuable points,” said Szafnauer immediately after the race. “We will take the disappointment tonight in our stride and focus on the positives of an incredibly strong season where we enjoyed some great moments.
“We have shown that we have a competitive car and team, which will give us a great base to come back even stronger in 2021 under the Aston Martin name.”