Formula 1

Racing Point: Controversial RP20 leads the midfield – Test verdict

Mar 1 2020
By Edd Straw
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From the moment the ‘Pink Mercedes’ started running, the Racing Point RP20 appeared to be a serious midfield threat.

Although its final race simulations suggested it was nip and tuck with McLaren on the final day – possibly a legacy of Mercedes turning down its engines for the last day – the feeling is it can deliver on its aspiration of leading the midfield. 

While the car is a copy of the 2019 Mercedes, it’s a very different machine to the previous Racing Points so the team had to dedicate a lot of time to understanding its behaviour.

It is a positive sign that the team was able to invest efforts more to fine-tuning the car than troubleshooting any major problems. 

“We are still in the experimental stage, still running through lots of different set-ups,” said technical director Andrew Green during the final day.

“It’s a very different car to anything we’ve ever had before, so it’s taking a bit of time to understand how we go about changing the balance of the car for the different types of conditions, the different corners, the different tyres. We’re probably halfway through it.”

Racing Point’s previous machines had an inherent balance issue that seemed incurable and would require massive development work for relatively modest gains.

But it appears to have eliminated those limitations, giving the drivers a car they can be confident in.

“The car is responding which is great and we can move the balance from one end to the other and the drivers can feel the car underneath them,” says Green.

“It gives them confidence to drive and gives them confidence to push which is good and when the conditions got tricky yesterday the car exhibited some really good traits compared to last year’s car so it was very encouraging.”

Racing Point F1 testing Barcelona 2020

Gary Anderson’s trackside verdict

The Racing Point RP20 has become known as the Pink Mercedes because of its resemblance to last year’s championship winning car.

Fortunately for the team, it also looks a lot like a Mercedes on track.

There is nothing dramatically wrong with it, it uses the kerbs well, it’s stable, there’s no major understeer.

This is a very good package even by the standards of today’s cars but the drivers have confidence to attack, which they didn’t always have in the team’s previous cars.

Racing Point F1 testing Barcelona 2020

The data

Best time: 1m16.634s, Sergio Perez, Friday week two. 0.902s off the pace

Mileage: 782 laps, 121 off Mercedes’ benchmark

In the news

The Racing Point – or ‘pink Mercedes’ – attracted only two interlinked topics of conversation during testing: the fact it closely resembled the Mercedes design, and the likely leap forward in pace that might bring. It certainly made the grand ambitions the team stated at its launch look more achievable.

Racing Point wasn’t shy about admitting it had taken a pragmatic decision to lean in technical partner Mercedes’ design direction, and rivals had to grudgingly accept that doing so was totally within the regulations.

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