In their final year before re-branding as Aston Martin, the Silverstone-based team’s controversial RP20 finished on the podium four times, took pole at the Turkish Grand Prix and took victory in the Sakhir Grand Prix. Here are the facts and stats from Racing Point’s 2020 F1 season.
Racing Point’s RP20 was dubbed the “Pink Mercedes” during winter testing, due to its resemblance to Mercedes’ 2019 car. The team were ultimately fined €400,000 and deducted fifteen points following protests on their brake ducts. That wasn’t the team’s only off-track concern in 2020. Both Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll tested positive for coronavirus, with Nico Hulkenberg called up to replace them each time.
On track, the team enjoyed their most successful season since 2017, as well as their first win since 2003. Between them, Perez and Stroll recorded four podium finishes – two of those being at the Sakhir Grand Prix, where Perez won and Stroll finished third, recording the team’s first double podium result since their Jordan days at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. Stroll also impressed in difficult conditions at the Turkish Grand Prix, taking his first pole position – and the team’s first since 2009. Throughout the year, Racing Point were embroiled in a battle for third place in the Constructors’ Championship. The team were ahead following Perez’s win at the penultimate race of the season, but slipped behind at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ultimately finishing fourth.
The team re-brand as Aston Martin in 2021, with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel joining the team in place of Sergio Perez. Aston Martin’s ambitions of racing at the front are clear: but will they have more success in their battle to be best of the rest in 2021?
A STATISTIC FROM EVERY GRAND PRIX
Austria: Racing Point recorded their first Q3 appearance since Lance Stroll reached the top ten at the 2019 Italian Grand Prix. It was the first time both Racing Point cars reached Q3 since the 2018 United States Grand Prix. In the race, Stroll recorded his first Austrian Grand Prix retirement, and the event became the third race in a row from which the Racing Point driver has retired.
Styria: Until the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix, since F1 returned to the Red Bull Ring in 2014, Mercedes or Ferrari had set the fastest time in 20 of the 21 practice sessions. The only one in which they didn’t was Free Practice 3 at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, where Valtteri Bottas was fastest for Williams. However, neither team topped either of the two practice sessions this weekend. Racing Point and Sergio Perez were fastest in Free Practice 1, while Red Bull and Max Verstappen were fastest in Free Practice 2. Perez and Stroll finished the race in sixth and seventh, with Perez equalling the team’s previous best result at the Red Bull Ring. It was the same result as the team recorded in their Force India guise in 2018, when Perez finished seventh and Esteban Ocon finished sixth.
Hungary: For the first time in the Silverstone-based team’s history, Racing Point saw both drivers reach Q3 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. That was in stark contrast to in 2019, when both drivers were eliminated in Q1. For Sergio Perez, it was his first Q3 appearance at the Hungaroring since 2013, and for Lance Stroll it is his first ever Q3 appearance at this track. Sergio Perez was the fastest driver in Q1, marking the first time he has been quickest in any session at the Hungarian Grand Prix. It was also the first time that the team has been fastest in any practice, qualifying or race session in Hungary in their entire 30-year history. Stroll finished fourth for Racing Point, which marked the Silverstone-based team’s best result at the Hungarian Grand Prix since Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fourth for Jordan in the 1999 event.
Britain: At the British Grand Prix, Racing Point became the first team to replace a driver due to them testing positive for coronavirus. Nico Hulkenberg replaced Sergio Perez, and was set to make his first race start with the team since 2016. However, he failed to start the race.
70th Anniversary: Nico Hulkenberg qualified in an impressive third place for Racing Point. The 70th Anniversary Grand Prix was the fourth time that Hulkenberg has lined up in the top three on the grid. Hulkenberg’s third place in qualifying was the Silverstone-based team’s best Saturday result at their home track since Heinz-Harald Frentzen qualified on the front row for Jordan in 2000. With Lance Stroll qualifying sixth, this was only the third time that both of the Silverstone-based team’s drivers have qualified in the top six at Silverstone. Their drivers also did so in their Jordan guise in 1996 and 1999. Stroll finished the race in sixth place. A car from the Silverstone-based team has not finished in a better position at the circuit since Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished fourth in 1999. This was the first time that both Racing Point cars have finished in the points at Silverstone since the 2018 British Grand Prix.
Spain: Racing Point finished the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix with both cars in the top five. The team finished in the same positions at the track in the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix, which was also the last race in which both of their cars finished in the top five. With fifth place, Sergio Perez recorded his second top five finish at the track, having previously finished fourth in 2017.
Belgium: For a third consecutive year, both Racing Point drivers scored points at the Belgian Grand Prix. Lance Stroll recorded his best Spa result with ninth place, having a previous best of tenth in 2019.
Italy: For the first time since 2016, both of the Silverstone-based team’s drivers qualified in the top ten at the Italian Grand Prix. The team took their first podium finish with Lance Stroll in third place. It was the first podium finish for the Silverstone-based team at the Italian Grand Prix since Heinz-Harald Frentzen won for Jordan in 1999.
Tuscany: For a fifth race in a row, Racing Point reached Q3 with both cars. Sergio Perez qualified sixth, with Lance Stroll just behind in seventh. This was the first time that both of the Silverstone-based team’s cars have reached Q3 since 2016, when the Force India team reached Q3 with both cars at all of the six races between the German and Japanese Grands Prix.
Russia: Sergio Perez qualified in fourth position for the fourth time in 2020. His qualifying result was the best ever qualifying position for the Racing Point team at the Russian Grand Prix. Their previous best result here was sixth, scored under their Force India guise, for Nico Hulkenberg in 2015 and for Esteban Ocon in 2018.
Eifel: Due to Lance Stroll testing positive for coronavirus, Nico Hulkenberg’s services were called upon once again for the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix. For the first time since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hulkenberg partnered Sergio Perez at the Silverstone-based team. This was their 60th race together at the team. With minimal preparation, Hulkenberg set the slowest time in Q1 and qualified in twentieth place. He recorded Racing Point’s second Q1 exit of 2020, and the team’s first Q1 exit at the Nurburgring since 2009. With Perez fourth and Hulkenberg eighth in the race, this was the first time that both of the Silverstone-based team’s drivers have finished in the points in a race at the Nurburgring since 1996. With fourth place, Perez equalled Jordan’s best result at the track, recorded by Rubens Barrichello in 1995.
Portugal: Sergio Perez finished seventh at the Portuguese Grand Prix, marking only the second time that the Silverstone-based team has scored at the event. Their only previous points-scoring appearance was in 1994, when Rubens Barrichello finished in fourth place.
Emilia Romagna: For only the second time in 2020, neither Racing Point driver reached Q3 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Sergio Perez qualified in eleventh place, recording his first Q2 exit since the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (though he had one Q1 elimination since then). Meanwhile, Lance Stroll qualified in fifteenth, recording his worst qualifying position of the year to date.
Turkey: Lance Stroll started from pole position at the Turkish Grand Prix. This was the fourth time that the Silverstone-based team has taken pole position. Jordan did so at the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix with Rubens Barrichello and at the 1999 European Grand Prix with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, while Force India took their only pole with Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Stroll is the first non-Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull driver to take pole position since Felipe Massa did so for Williams at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Before the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix, the Silverstone-based team had never previously appeared in Q3 at Istanbul Park. Their previous best qualifying result at the circuit was eleventh for Adrian Sutil in 2010. In the race, both Stroll and Sergio Perez led laps.
Bahrain: It was a day to forget for Racing Point at the Bahrain Grand Prix. Sergio Perez was set to finish on the podium for a second race in a row, but an engine failure in the closing stages left the team point-less. Lance Stroll had already been eliminated in an incident with Daniil Kvyat. This was Stroll’s fourth retirement in the last seven races. This was the first race Perez has started this year in which he has failed to score. It was the first time that the Silverstone-based team have recorded a retirement at the Bahrain Grand Prix since Christijan Albers failed to finish for Midland in 2006, as well as the team’s first double DNF since the 2018 French Grand Prix.
Sakhir: Sergio Perez won the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, making Racing Point the 36th different constructor to win a World Championship event. This is not the first win for the Silverstone-based team: they last won as Jordan at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix. Meanwhile, with Lance Stroll also finishing on the podium, the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix is the first time both of the Silverstone-based teams cars have finished on the podium since the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. Perez is the eighth different driver to win at Bahrain International Circuit, while Racing Point are the sixth different team to win at the track.
Abu Dhabi: At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sergio Perez ended his seven-year tenure at the Silverstone-based team. Having won their first race last time out, Racing Point made their final appearance before rebranding as Aston Martin in 2021. Lance Stroll finished in tenth place, marking the first time that he has picked up points at the Yas Marina Circuit. This was the third season in a row that Racing Point have had one car score and the other retire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its sixth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast.