Formula 1’s tight midfield fight means consistent top 10 appearances are becoming “paramount”, according to Racing Point team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer.

Racing Point currently occupies sixth place in the constructors’ championship on 19 points. After missing out on the top 10 in Spain and Montreal, the Silverstone-based squad bounced back to score points in Canada thanks to Lance Stroll’s recovery drive to ninth place.

Just six points separate Racing Point from ninth-placed Alfa Romeo, while it is 11 points behind current midfield leaders McLaren.

“We’re sitting in sixth place in the championship and have scored points in five out of seven races,” said Szafnauer.

“It’s very tight in the midfield and I can see the fight going all the way to the last race. That’s why it’s paramount that we continue scoring points consistently.

“It’s fair to say race pace has been our strength, while we need to improve our qualifying performance.”

Racing Point has been boosted by fresh investment following Lawrence Stroll’s takeover last year and Szafnauer says the team is expecting further upgrades ahead of F1’s summer break.

“We have taken some good steps forward with the car since the start of the year and there’s plenty more upgrades in the pipeline too,” he explained.

“When the middle of the grid is separated by tenths of a second, you’ve got to bring performance steps to the track as soon as you can and that’s our focus in the lead up to the summer break.”

Stroll says he is heading into this weekend’s French Grand Prix full of confidence following his third points finish of the season in Montreal.

“I’m feeling good heading into this weekend,” he added. “The performance we had in Canada on race day gave us all a boost and I really enjoyed it. I always say it’s Sunday that counts so to come back and score points in my home race after such a tough Saturday felt really special.

“The Paul Ricard circuit is almost the other extreme from Montreal. There are massive run-off areas and it’s a very different experience.

“That’s not something I enjoy because if you run wide, you can get away with it quite easily. It’s just less of a challenge for the drivers. I remember last year it was really hot and the forecast looks similar this year.

“I visited Paul Ricard when I was racing in Formula 3, but my memories of last year’s F1 race are not great. I had a puncture in the race and it wasn’t my weekend so I hope my luck changes this year.”

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