Racing Point team principal wants to take new team to 'very top' of F1

Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez observe the Racing Point car for 2019
Lance Stroll (left) has joined Sergio Perez at Racing Point for the 2019 season

The new Racing Point team have set themselves the ambitious target of getting to the "very top" of Formula 1.

Racing Point are owned by the Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, who took over Force India when it collapsed with financial problems last summer.

Launching their new livery in Toronto on Wednesday, team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: "It is important we take a good step forward in 2019.

"We want to be fighting for podiums and aim for a strong top-four finish."

Force India finished fourth in the constructors' championship in both 2016 and 2017 and would have beaten Renault to fourth last year as well had they not been forced to start from zero points again at the Belgian Grand Prix because they were a new legal entity following Stroll's takeover.

Mexican Sergio Perez has been retained as one of the drivers in 2019 and he is joined by Lance Stroll, the son of Lawrence Stroll, after two seasons at Williams.

The 2019 colour scheme continues with the pink used last year, at the behest of one of their sponsors, and adds a dark blue, to reflect the colours of a new one.

Perez said: "We have stability and strong leadership at the top, which is important because it means I can simply focus on the driving and performance. 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."

Lance Stroll, who became the youngest ever podium finisher at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix but has had an otherwise unconvincing start to his F1 career, added: "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 always aim high so I want us to be competitive right from the start.

"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."

Achieving the long-term aim of winning the championship will not be easy. The top teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, had a lap-time advantage of nearly two seconds on Force India last year, based on vastly greater resources and funding.

Like many other private teams, Racing Point are hoping that a reboot of the sport planned for 2021, with new technical regulations and a more equitable system for distributing prize money, will enable them to close the gap to the front.

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