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Formula 1

Why pitstop that cost Racing Point a podium felt ‘logical’

by Matt Beer
4 min read

Racing Point technical director Andrew Green has explained why the pitstop that cost Sergio Perez a likely Emilia Romagna Grand Prix podium finish felt like “the most logical thing to do”.

A long first stint on mediums from 11th on the starting grid had allowed Perez to leapfrog all of his midfield rivals, helped by early fourth-place runner Daniel Ricciardo getting caught up behind the long-running Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

Perez was up to fourth when he finally pitted on lap 28 of 63 for what was supposed to be his sole stop, and he rejoined ahead of Ricciardo having switched to the hard tyre.

“We basically gave the podium to Ricciardo” :: Sergio Perez

Max Verstappen’s subsequent retirement promoted Perez to third place, presenting a prime opportunity for him to score his ninth podium in F1 and his first since the 2018 Baku race.

However, Racing Point elected to bring him in under the safety car and make a change for the soft tyre, dropping him three places back.

While he overtook one of the older-tyre runners ahead in Alex Albon, he’d also been passed by Daniil Kvyat at the restart and was ultimately powerless to even pick off the hard-tyred Ferrari of Charles Leclerc for a top-five finish.

Daniel Ricciardo

Meanwhile, Ricciardo – the highest-placed of those electing not to pit under the safety car – held on for his and Renault’s second podium of the campaign.

Perez made it clear in the immediate aftermath of the race that he’d felt pitting was the wrong call.

“I think looking at it, it didn’t make sense at the time,” he told Sky. “The call was very late – but it’s always easy to take the right decision after the race. But, overtaking today was extremely difficult.

“I haven’t spoken to the team yet so they must have some reasons on it. Just painful, a painful day because we had the podium in the pocket.”

“The car had been set up quite specifically for the long runs and we were incredibly nervous about having to restart the hard tyres behind the safety car” :: Andrew Green

And when Green was asked about the decision, he indeed confirmed that there another factor – a concern over hard tyre warm-up given the car’s set-up – that he felt had made pitting the sensible choice at the time.

“The worst possible scenario was a safety car,” Green said. “That was not really how we were geared up unfortunately, it was always going to be a difficult decision, that one.

“We were on the hard tyres, the car had been set up quite specifically for the long runs and for the race we were incredibly nervous about having to restart the hard tyres behind the safety car and we would have struggled.

Sergio Perez Racing Point Imola 2020

“So the safest thing to do and, we thought, the most logical thing to do was to swap them for a set of the new softer tyres so that we didn’t have to worry about that.

“We thought other people might do the same but a lot depends on how they were set up for the race.

“I think it probably just showed where our race pace was because we’d set the car up to look after the tyres and be kind and not overheat them so we were always going to struggle behind a safety car in that situation.”

Green also said George Russell’s subsequent shunt under the safety car had also played against Perez, as it cost him valuable time to make ground back up.

“With the second incident behind the safety car, which we couldn’t have predicted, the number of laps remaining to overtake was shortened again by a considerable margin so I think that worked against us.”

Nevertheless, Green corroborated Perez’s assertion that it was “the wrong call in hindsight”.

“Yeah, in hindsight we would have made a different decision,” Green admitted.

“But at the time, with the information we had, that’s the decision we came to.”

Perez dropping from third to sixth meant Racing Point was outscored by McLaren and Renault, its two rivals for third place in the constructors’ standings.

It now sits level on points with McLaren – which is placed ahead due to having a better individual race finish – and one point behind Renault.

“It is a painful day and also a painful day in the championship,” Perez summed up. “We basically gave the podium to Ricciardo.”

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