Szafnauer expects battle for third to go down to the wire


With three teams covered by just one point as they battle for third in the team standings, Racing Point boss, Otmar Szafnauer admits he expects the battle to go down to the wire.

"The battle for P3 has been one of the highlights of the season," he says ahead of this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix. "Having said that, it's actually been a close fight throughout the midfield this year.

"We've been very closely matched with McLaren and Renault - as the standings show - but some of the other teams have been right in the mix too at certain circuits, which is great for the sport and has certainly made for some unpredictable and exciting races.

"I fully expect the battle to go right down to the wire in Abu Dhabi," he admits. "That's a measure of just how strong the competition is. We're only a point off P3 right now and anything can happen, so we'll dig deep, give it everything we've got, and treat the final stretch as a four-race Championship where we aim to come out on top."

Asked what we might expect from the final four race, he says: "We believe the RP20 is well suited to Turkey, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, so we expect to be strong in all four of the remaining races. It's down to us now to maximise the performance potential of our package and secure solid points in all of the remaining races.

"It's going to be a busy period with four races in five weeks," he adds, "and we've not had a triple-header for a while, so it's about making sure we have one last big push to get us over the line.

"The team have stepped up to the challenge of a very intense racing schedule this year, so we know we have what it takes to maintain a high level of performance throughout.

"This has been a season like no other with the challenging global situation, so we are immensely grateful to everyone back at the factory and trackside for their efforts in not only producing a strong car but extracting the potential from it."

Of course, the Silverstone-based outfit hasn't helped itself in the last couple of races, having experienced what might best be described as 'mixed fortunes'.

"We've had our share of bad luck along the way too," says Szafnauer, "for example, with Checo in the last two races. The incident with Max in Portugal cost him a chance at fighting for the podium, and in hindsight we should have tried keeping Checo out on track, in Imola, during the safety car period.

"In sport, it's easy to go from hero to zero," he continues, "but every setback is a learning opportunity. I'm confident that we will not only improve off the back of these last few races but use them as motivation for the final push."

In the face of such tough opposition from McLaren and Renault, asked if he is confident the team can turn the tide, he responds: "I certainly hope we've used up all our bad luck in the last few races, that's for sure!

"You only have to look at Lance's side of the garage to understand what a rollercoaster of a year this has been," he continues. "We shouldn't forget this has been Lance's best season in Formula 1 to date. He's not only taken a podium, he's also found a much greater level of consistency. After eight races he was P4 in the standings and on fantastic form.

"Unfortunately, since then he's had a series of setbacks that have been largely out of his hands. He was firmly in podium contention in Mugello before a freak puncture took him out of the race and was looking good in Russia before he was hit by Leclerc.

"Of course, he then missed Germany through illness and all that positive momentum he had worked so hard to build was swept out from underneath him. But now, Lance is in great shape, firing on all cylinders and he's ready for the final few races."

And looking ahead to next season...

"Time is marching on and in two months' time we will be the Aston Martin F1 Team. There are huge efforts going on behind the scenes to prepare for the transition and we're very excited to finally share the results with the world in the coming months.

"The new factory is on course for the end of 2022 and we're working hard to ensure we continue to make progress with our 2021 package too, so there's plenty to keep us busy over the coming d months.

"We're also determined to end the Racing Point story on a high. I can't think of a more fitting way to sign off this chapter in the team's history than by taking P3 in the Constructors' Championship, before we become Aston Martin.

"Regardless of the name above the door, we're a group of true racers who live to compete on the racetrack and we'll be giving it absolutely everything we've got right up to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi."

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Published: 11/11/2020
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