At the start of pre-season testing ahead of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Racing Point stunned the grid with their new race car.
The car isn’t anything radical in terms of what Racing Point could bring to the table, but because it is an almost exact replica of Mercedes-AMG’s 2019 race car.
Immediately it raises a few questions because what did Racing Point do over the winter? Were they not busy designing a new car in-between seasons?
In all honesty, this is very sneaky on Racing Point’s part, because they are not that much different to those school kids who take credit on a team project for doing nothing.
How can any team, so deliberately, copy and paste another team’s design without their being any repercussions? Perhaps there is a deeper meaning to it all? Perhaps Racing Point was just smart in their way of going about the 2020 season?
Maybe… maybe Racing Point just utilised their resources more cleverly.
A German partnership
Racing Point has some solid ties with a few big role players in F1. The two most notable being Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin.
On AMG’s part, Racing Point is an engine customer. The team sources their engines and gearboxes from Mercedes. This means that whatever Merc brings to the table with regards to upgrades and updates, Racing Point, along with Rikot Williams Racing, benefits directly from it.
If Mercedes-AMG introduces updates to their powertrain, both the factory team and customer teams receive the same unit.
But unlike Williams, Racing Point has much closer to ties Mercedes - almost like a B-team. Lawrence Stroll, the man who led a consortium of buyers to buy out Force India in mid-2018, made sure that his team is in Merc’s inner circle. So close is the relationship that Stroll could master a plan to acquire the design of Merc’s 2019 race car. Is it wrong?
Not at all. It’s, plain and simple, a genius business move on Stroll’s part.
How it effects 2020
During pre-season testing, Racing Point showed impressive pace and looks poised for strong results in 2020. According to the official F1 website, Racing Point’s "short run pace, which put them third overall in the pecking order in our metric, was particularly imposing with Sergio Perez describing the car as the best he’s ever had in pre-season."
The paddock aptly named Racing Point’s car the 'Pink Mercedes', given the blatant resemblance we alluded to earlier.
Last year’s Mercedes race car was a mightily impressive machine, and every other team will be playing catch up in 2020. Given how far off Merc’s pace all the teams were - bar Ferrari and Red Bull - Racing Point is in an advantageous position with a car that shouldn’t be that far off the Mercedes factory team’s pace.
This leaves McLaren-Renault and Renault (2019’s fourth and fifth place finishers) with a headache, because suddenly, based on pre-season data, Racing Point is in a position to challenge them. Perhaps even to be in contention for podium finishes or race wins.
Racing Point is in a prime position to be 2020’s most impressive team. They just have to keep things together and not stuff it up.