Perez in the Points for the 1000th Grand Prix
Monday, 15 April 2019 | Ravenol Marketing
After bursting into the points positions following a fantastic getaway at the start, Sergio “Checo” Perez held onto 8th place, nursing his tyres through a one stop strategy, to bring home 4 more points at the 1000th F1 race in Shanghai, China
After struggling in qualifying, with Checo starting from P12 and team mate Lance Stroll starting further back in P16, Racing Point needed a touch of magic to make it into the points positions. And Checo’s start was right on target, taking the outside line and storming past the competition and up into 8th. Lance also made up a few places into 13th and luckily avoided getting caught up in a first lap incident where Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat made contact with both McLarens and sent Lando Norris flying. A Virtual Safety Car was needed, as well as two new nose cones for the McLaren cars.
Up in front, Lewis Hamilton had made it past his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas at the start to take the lead and over the next few laps the silver arrows started to build a lead over the Ferrari’s and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. Further back, however, the midfield pack was still fairly tight. Lance was challenging Haas’s Kevin Magnusson for 12th, but he was also being challenged from behind by Kvyat, who nearly went into him. But the pressure was soon relieved as Kvyat was given a drive through penalty for the Lap 1 incident.
With the Shanghai International Circuit having a reputation for eating tyres, the few early stoppers weren’t followed into the pits. However, as time went by and those on a two-stop strategy started to trickle in, it became clear that the undercut was effective in Shanghai. Verstappen tried to undercut Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and managed to get past him after Vettel was held up by Norris following his own stop, but the German came back hard, forcing the young Dutchman to the side of the track and retaking 3rd place.
Also trying the undercut were Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, which allowed Alexander Albon to get the jump on Lance, despite a perfectly timed double stack pitstop from the Racing Point mechanics. Checo only dropped a single place to come out in 9th, but Lance came back out in 16th behind Albon. But after a couple of drivers ahead stopped he was back to 14th, then he made it past Antonio Giovinazzi’s Sauber under DRS down the home straight to take 13th. A few laps later he had reeled in Magnusson again and this time successfully took 12th off him.
When the pit window opened for cars on a two stop strategy, Verstappen was once again straight in trying to undercut the Ferrari’s. Vettel came in later and managed to get out ahead, but his team mate Charles Leclerc was not so lucky and lost 4th place to the Red Bull. But all eyes were on the Mercedes doing their own Racing Point inspired double stack. With perfect timing the two cars were back out on track ahead of the Ferrari’s and Red Bull like a silver breeze had graced the pit lane.
Despite the teams’ fears, the Pirelli rubber was lasting a lot longer than anticipated, and there wasn’t the expected drop off in pace towards the end of the race. Although Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Checo in the Renault, and Albon ahead of Lance in the Toro Rosso had older tyres, they managed to find the pace to just stay ahead of the Racing Point drivers. So Racing Point tried something different with Lance – they brought him in for a late pitstop hoping that fresher tyres would give them an advantage in the closing stages of the race. But the two Haas’s he came out behind still had decent pace and Lance struggled to catch up to Magnusson, finally taking 12th off him on the final lap.
In a cruel twist of fate, Romain Grosjean almost caught up to Albon by the end of the race, so it might have been possible for Lance to secure the final points place had he stayed out, but no-one could have predicted the tyres lasting so well. So it finished with Lance in 12th and Checo in 8th, and another 4 points to add to the team tally.
We’ll join you again in 2 weeks time when Racing Point head to Baku for the Azerbaijan on the 28th of April.