Racing Point’s 2020 Formula 1 car is as fast as its rivals “feared” following pre-season testing, after displaying impressive form during Austrian Grand Prix practice.

Aside from Mercedes’ dominant start as the 2020 F1 season kickstarted in Austria following heavy delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Racing Point was the other team to grab the headlines on Friday.

The Silverstone-based outfit’s performance on the opening day of running at the Red Bull Ring raised eyebrows as the team looked competitive over one lap and the longer runs with its RP20 challenger, which has taken inspiration from Mercedes’ 2019 title-winning W10.

And Racing Point’s showing on Friday “lived up to the expectation”, according to Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

“I would say that's as fast as we feared they would be,” the Dane said.

"They look very fast, but you never know in testing whether they gun for a glory run with zero fuel and soft tyres. But they seem to live up to the expectation.”

Haas teammate Romain Grosjean suggested that Perez was matching the pace of Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes during his race simulations in the afternoon.

"I didn't get the time to see the timing in details, but I heard that Sergio was matching Bottas’ pace on the long run," Grosjean said.

“They’ll be up there, fighting for podiums which is great for them, which is great to see.

"Obviously they have that partnership with Mercedes and their car is very similar to the Mercedes one, which is the best one out there, so you know, good on them,” he added.

"We have a partnership with Ferrari. Maybe we work a little bit differently but I think is a great model and it's going to be good to see a little bit of diversity and change of colour fighting for good positions.”

Sergio Perez ended the day third in the timesheets in FP2, just over half a second off the pace of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

“The car feels good and I’m happy,” Perez explained. “In the factory, the team has done a tremendous job and we have a car underneath us that is working well.

“There's still a lot of work to do – tonight and tomorrow morning – but we are in decent shape.

“The margins are extremely close, so it’s going to be really important to put together some really tidy laps in qualifying tomorrow.”

Meanwhile teammate Lance Stroll said the team’s RP20 “looked competitive”, adding that “it’s definitely been one of the better Fridays I can remember for a long time.”

Racing Point chief Otmar Szafnauer insisted that the performance shown in Austria was what the team had expected following pre-season testing.

“It’s only Friday of the first race, we still have qualifying to go,” he said.

“We need to see how much fuel people were running and engine modes, but it [the performance] was what we expected.”

 

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