‘Big surprise’ teased after F1 shake-up
Sergio Perez has predicted that Racing Point can be a "big surprise" in the 2019 Formula 1 season.
The former Force India team formally launched their new identity earlier this week at an event in Canada, the homeland of new billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll.
Perez, who has been with the team since 2014, now reckons their increased financial power will start to pay dividends.
"I have never experienced this level of motivation before with the other teams I've been with," Perez told Sky Sports F1's David Croft.
"We've been through some such a difficult period for so many years, always lacking the cash and the parts and so on. Now for the first time we are a proper team and can be a big surprise this season."
Perez added: "I want to get my best season in F1. Expectations are really high in the team so I'm so much looking forward to it."
Racing Point's management have set the target of reclaiming fourth place in the Constructors' Championship as their short-term goal, a position the team achieved in its former guise in 2016-17 despite squeezed finances.
"We think fourth is achievable," said team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
"We've done it in two out of the last three years and I think we would have done it last year as well if we hadn't had our financial woes. So, although a difficult job, I think it's achievable for us.
"Renault are targeting that too and are a formidable racing company that have won championships in the past, have a good driver line-up, have more expenditure than we have, better infrastructure and more people than we have. So to beat them would be an accolade, but that's what we're trying to do.
"Haas are also targeting that and I wouldn't discount people like McLaren, Toro Rosso and Red Bull will be sharing more and more now, and Alfa Romeo, whose performance development curve was the best last year."
What else will change at Racing Point?
With the new-look team making clear they want to eventually get to the "very top of the sport", the Silverstone-based outfit are already making the necessary long-term development plans.
"A new factory is in the works," Szafnauer confirmed.
"But before you start building a factory you need land so we had to do that. We need a site, we need a plan, we need planning permission and we've got to understand what we are going to build just to make sure what we do built is state of the art and actually gives us the resource and infrastructure we need to take that to the next level."
Although increases in staff numbers have been small so far, Szafnauer says the team are "still going to be way under" any F1 budget cap from 2021 "even if we increase by 75-100 people".
He added: "To go from a flyweight to a middleweight we've got to add a lot of infrastructure and tools to the business and that takes time."
This article originally appeared on Sky Sports and was republished with permission