Szafnauer: Racing Point RP20 is team's 'best-ever car'

Lance Stroll (CDN) Racing Point F1 Team RP20.
© XPB 

Racing Point F1 boss Otmar Szafnauer firmly believes that his team's new car is the best that they have ever developed, based on its impressive performance in pre-season testing in February.

The RP20 caused a stir when it was unveiled, with a radical new design philosophy for the team drawing heavy inspiration from last year's title-winning Mercedes chassis.

The car then put in some very strong times over the course of eight days of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Sergio Perez just a tenth slower than Valtteri Bottas on the first day.

Almost immediately after the test was completed, teams were on their way to Australia for the subsequently abandoned season opener. Since then the sport has been in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning teams haven't had time to make major changes before the rescheduled first race in Austria next month.

"I think some of the competitiveness that we saw in the winter should [roll over] to the Red Bull Ring," Szafnauer told the F1 Nation podcast from the official website this week.

"We’ve had a long time off now and I don’t think anyone’s had enough time to get back to work, develop the car and get new bits onto their car. We certainly haven’t.

"My expectation is, the competitiveness that we saw in the winter should also be available to us and become evident in Austria.”

From what he's seen, Szafnauer is convinced that the RP20 is the best car yet to emerge from the team's Silverstone facility.

“Yes, I think relatively so, this is the most competitive," he insisted. "We’ve taken a decent step forward.

“As a general package, out of Barcelona - which is usually a good indicator of how well your aerodynamic team has done - this is probably the best that I have seen our aerodynamic team has produced. The best we’ve been at Barcelona anyway."

"There have been other times where we looked really, really competitive," he recalled. "I remember I think it was Adrian Sutil overtaking Michael Schumacher in a Mercedes going up the hill at Spa. There are races where we’ve [looked] really, really quick, and nearly won one at Spa."

Racing Point will seek to shake off the cobwebs of a prolonged seven-month break from racing by holding a 'promotional day' at Silverstone next week to allow the team and drivers to get back into swing of racing for real rather than on simulators.

Mercedes has also just held a two day private test at the circuit to help Lewis Hamilton and valtteri Bottas prepare for the delayed start to the season which involves an intensive series of six races over eight weekends.

Ferrari is also believed to be planning a similar warm-up opportunity with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel recently announced he was leaving the team at the end of 2020 and has been linked with Racing Point as a possible destination next season. But Szafnauer said that he hadn't spoken to the four-time world champion about joining the squad.

"Seb hasn’t called me, so I haven’t had the conversation with him," he stated.

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