Sergio Perez sees 2020 as pivotal to Racing Point’s progress in the Formula 1 pecking order following a transitional season fraught with a weak car in qualifying trim.

The Mexican driver led the Silverstone-based team’s charge by finishing 2019 in 10th place in the drivers’ championship as he scored 71% of the squad’s total points alongside teammate Lance Stroll as Racing Point ended the year in seventh place in the F1 world constructors’ standings.

Having lost out to McLaren, Renault and Toro Rosso in the midfield fight, Perez puts the tricky season down to the overhaul changes going on within the team following its takeover in 2018 by a Lawrence Stroll-led consortium after falling into administration last summer.

But with fresh investment and a rapid expansion to its Silverstone base, Perez is hopeful a slight dip over the past 18 months will see the team use its new foundations to attack going into 2020 before the following year’s rules shake-up.

“Although it’s been a very difficult year in terms of pace, a slow start and so on. I cannot wait already for 2020, I think it’s a big year ahead for us. We work very hard,” Perez said in Abu Dhabi.

“I think we managed to improve step-by-step but obviously not enough. I don’t think we got close enough to McLaren, they were strong this year.

“Renault were a step ahead but it’s been very close to Toro Rosso I think. They obviously did a better job than us and scored plenty of points when the opportunities were there, so that made a huge difference in the midfield when you are able to score big points.”

Perez feels Racing Point’s main weakness has been its qualifying speed, with the Mexican driver reaching Q3 on just five occasions in 2019, which badly hampered his chances of strong points finishes.

“I think qualifying hasn’t been as strong but race-pace has been very strong as usual. Also the race team has done a tremendous job this year. I think more than any other year, maximising our performance was really strong,” he said.

“I think it’s some fundamental thing with the car, it’s been very difficult on new tyres. It’s been so bad you cannot improve. And it has been so much circuit-related this year, some we were strong and others we were really bad. That midfield group was so tight that two tenths in one sector would put you off.”

Perez recently signed a new long-term deal at Racing Point which keeps him at the team until at least the end of 2022.