Finishing in the points and kicking butt - Racing Point's revived presence in F1

Sergio Perez, driving the (11) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes, leads team mate Lance Stroll during the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix. (Clive Mason / Getty Images)
Sergio Perez, driving the (11) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes, leads team mate Lance Stroll during the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix. (Clive Mason / Getty Images)
Clive Mason

• Racing Point emerged as a reckoned rival in 2020.

• The team is using an altered version of Mercedes' 2019 car.

• Racing Point currently sits in fourth on the Constructors' log.

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Racing Point has been on the up in 2020, mainly because it's latest race car is a modified version of Mercedes-AMG's 2019 fighter. Yes, Racing Point acquired the necessary rights to use Merc's 2019 as their 2020 challenger, and the entire process - and the car - was approved by the FIA, F1's governing body.

But while some are finding this problematic, especially Renault who's lodged an official complaint against the team, Racing Point is showing vast improvements in pace and performance and snapping at the heels of a podium finish.

In the opening two races of the season, the team performed admirably. So much so that drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll are fifth and tenth, respectively, in the drivers' championship. In the constructors' race, Racing point sits in fourth place, one position ahead of the struggling Ferrari team.

Kink in the armour

In Austria, the opening race of the 2020 season, Perez was embroiled in a race-long tussle with the drivers around him. Though he finished the race in sixth place, he got his elbows out and went wheel-to-wheel with Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and Lando Norris (McLaren). It was encouraging to watch because finally, more teams look as if they could trouble the leaders.

A week later, at the Styrian Grand Prix held at the same track as the previous week's race, torrential downpours made their presence felt and almost washed out qualifying. The damning conditions highlighted one flaw in Racing Point's car: it's absolutely awful in the rain! Perez and Stroll qualified in 17th and 13th, respectively, and it looked as if the team would have another tough weekend - reminiscent of their 2019 troubles.

READ: Did Racing Point do anything wrong by copying Merc's 2019 F1 car design for 2020?

But for the race, the sun came out on race day, and Racing Point reverted to their competitive ways shown a week prior. By the end of the race, Perez finished in sixth place and Stroll in seventh.

See Perez's charge through the field from 17th to sixth in the video below:

Can they keep it up?

Racing Point has proven to be a reckoned rival in 2020, but the challenge will be to maintain that momentum going throughout the year. As the past weekend's qualifying has shown, the car lacks the downforce to be competitive in the rain, which can be an indication that it will struggle on high-downforce tracks.

This is an area that Racing Point admitted needs addressing, but given the shortened season, how much resources will go into 2020 instead of focusing on the aerodynamic package for 2021 when the team changes its name to Aston Martin? And with the regulatory overhaul coming in 2022, why invest too much into this year and next when an opportunity to rival the frontrunners are looming.

READ: We should all worry about Racing Point's pace - Red Bull boss

On their current pace, Racing Point can challenge to be the third-best team at the end of 2020, and perhaps this will be motivation enough to invest more in this year's car. And, technically, next year's car will be an evolution of this year's.

There is ample to consider on Racing Point's side, but it can't be denied that the team is in the best shape of its life since joining the sport in 2008 as Force India.

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