Racing Point has only unlocked half of the potential from its 2019 Formula 1 car during the opening two races of the season, according to team boss Otmar Szafnauer. 

Following fresh investment from new backer Lawrence Stroll and additional sponsors, confidence within the Silverstone-based outfit’s ranks was high heading into the new campaign. 

Racing Point introduced a heavily-upgraded car in time for the Melbourne season-opener but the updates did not perform as hoped - with Lance Stroll managing a ninth-place finish in Australia, before teammate Sergio Perez could only add one point to the team’s tally in Bahrain.

As a result, the rebranded squad currently occupies ninth in the constructors’ championship, ahead of only the struggling Williams team. 

“I think half of it hasn’t been unlocked,” Szafnauer said when asked about the potential of the RP19. 

“But you’ve got to do the experiments in real time to learn and then get there.

“You gotta bolt on that two-to-three tenths before they do, not at the same time, or else you’re relatively at the same position. We can do it.

“We had a package for Melbourne, we had another update here. We have some more stuff coming for China but the next big one is in Barcelona.

“Over time sometimes you’ve got to dial the car in with the package you’ve brought.” 

Stroll echoed the comments of his team boss and is confident Racing Point can unlock more pace from its car at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

“We struggled with the balance of the car in Bahrain and it’s something we worked to improve during the test last week,” he added.

“We are still learning how to maximise the current aero package, but it feels as though we are moving in the right direction. I think we can unlock more potential from the car this weekend in China.”

While Szafnauer expected the midfield battle to be as tight as ever, he admitted McLaren’s early performances have been the biggest surprise so far in 2019. 

“They look quite good but they also looked quite good last year at this time,” he explained. 

“I shouldn’t say this but some of the younger drivers are doing a better job than I thought they would. That’s a surprise. 

“That’s not because they weren’t good enough but my failing to predict how good they were going to be. 

“I think I was pleasantly surprised by some of the performance of the younger guys. [Ferrari’s Charles] Leclerc should have won the race [in Bahrain].”

Szafnauer insisted Racing Point would not be taking any “undue risks” with aggressive race start procedures to seek early gains and make up for its current lack of one-lap pace.

“I think what we try to do at the start is we don’t vary it race to race, we just do it the same every time,” he said. 

“We do work over the weekend to make sure we engage the clutch properly with the grip we have and get the best out of the powertrain. 

“It’s not about being aggressive, you can’t say ‘OK be really aggressive at the start and then go backwards’ - if you can’t do the procedures right you’ll go backwards.

“Take undue risks [and] you’ll finish out of the points anyway.”