On the morning of February 13, 2019, a new chapter in Canadian Formula 1 history began with the official unveiling of the Canadian-owned SportPesa Racing Point F1 team.
With media from around the world, and streamed live, Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer, technical director Andy Green and drivers Sergio Perez and Canada’s own Lance Stroll presented the team’s inaugural livery in the John Bassett Theatre inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
It’s a huge turnaround for the former Force India F1 team, whose future looked uncertain when the team went into receivership during the 2018 Formula 1 season.
Thanks to Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll and his ownership group, the team has a new name, long-term financial security and a new lease on life.
And team boss Szafnauer plans to put the newfound stability to good use, targeting podiums and a fourth-place finish in the 2019 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship.
“After months of hard work behind-the-scenes it’s incredibly exciting to come to Canada and present our new identity. The long-term aim is to take this team to the very top of the sport,” said Szafnauer. “We are putting the building blocks in place and it’s important we take a good step forward in 2019 as we begin this new era. We want to be fighting for podiums on merit and aiming for a strong top four finish in the championship.”
Perez is relishing the opportunity to focus on his race craft for the first time in a while. The Mexican driver, who has eight podiums in Formula 1 and has driven for the team for six years, was embroiled in a contract dispute with the former ownership group that ultimately paved the way for putting the team into receivership and allowing Stroll and his investors to come on board.
“I’m really excited to stay with this team as we begin the new era. We have stability and strong leadership at the top, which is important because it means I can simply focus on the driving and performance,” said Perez. “I want us to be the best of the rest once again. I believe in this team and I think we can achieve great things together.”
For Stroll, it’s chance to bounce back from an awful season in an under-performing Williams F1 car and a homecoming for the Montreal-born 20-year-old. Not only is he part of a Canadian Formula 1 team, he’s a part of a family-owned team, too.
“I can see how much potential we have in this team and there’s an incredible buzz in the factory and so much enthusiasm. I want us to be competitive right from the start,” said Stroll. “It’s way too early to know how we compare to the other teams, but right here today I believe we should be fighting for points in every race. My goal is to get back on the podium in 2019 as well. I’ve seen what this team achieved in the past and it’s a real credit to the people involved. I’m looking forward to making our own history.”
The SportPesa Racing Point F1 car will be on display throughout the 12-day Canadian International Auto Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, beginning on February 15.