Editor’s Note: Paul’s dear friend, Patrice Marchessault, attended the Racing Point car launch in Toronto today and kindly filed this report including the terrific pics he took at the event. You can catch Patrice’s work here.
It was a second consecutive day of heavy snow accumulation in Toronto, as over 20 centimeters were recorded, but it did not stop the media, VIPs and lucky fans to assist at the presentation of the team’s 2019 contender.
The event was broadcasted live on TSN and SkySports hosted by none other than Sky Sports F1’s voice David Croft who came up on stage 15 minutes before the broadcast to welcome the crowd in a very cheerful way.
At precisely 10 o’clock, a video introduced the event, featuring both Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez as well as Team Principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer and Lawrence Stroll (who could be seen backstage during the presentation).
Then, David Croft came back on stage and introduced Otmar Szafnauer and technical director Andrew Green.
Asked about how he felt about the day, Otmar Szafnauer said:
“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. 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.”
For the team’s technical director Andrew Green:
“The design and build process for the RP19 has generally been an improvement compared to previous years, which is a positive result of the change in team ownership. I look forward to seeing the car on track. We all want to start understanding the various aspects of the car’s performance; understanding all the mechanical and aerodynamic improvements of the car, our new power unit and make sure our reliability is sound. We are already looking beyond our testing-spec car, actually: we’re planning what to bring to the first race, what to bring to round five in Barcelona and what we should be looking at as we develop this package, something we’ve been unable to do previously. A new set of aero rules means the development slope has become steep again.”
It was time for the drivers’ presentation. Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez were welcomed to the applause and cheers of the crowd as they walked onto the stage. And David Croft had a point, to the amusement of the crowd, when he mentioned SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team is from the Americas with the owner consortium being mostly Canadians and with Canadian driver Lance Stroll and Mexican driver Sergio Perez.
Sergio Perez was all smiles at the prospect of a new season and a new start to the team:
“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”.
Canadian driver Lance Stroll, who made the switch from Williams at the end of last season, is looking forward to the change.
“I can see how much potential we have in this team and there’s an incredible buzz in the factory and so much enthusiasm”, he says. 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.”
As the drivers took the cover off the new car, a new partner in SportPesa, a growing global technology and entertainment company that is focused on sports and entertainment news, could be seen on the car.
A new ‘point’ logo in pink, blue and magenta was also introduced alongside the team’s new identity as SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team.
Bombardier, a well known Canadian Company, has its logo on top of the engine cover just behind the air box. Canada Life is also listed as a one of the partners.
Following the introduction, the live broadcast ended but the attendance was in for a treat as a 30 minutes round of Q&A took place with questions to drivers and team personnel which turned out to be very entertaining, thanks in part to David Croft.
Following a short break, the lucky fans who attended the event had a chance to get close to their favorite drivers in an autograph session adjacent to the theatre where the launch took place. Some fans brought their own memorabilia to get the driver’s signature. Others chose to immortalize the event taking a picture with the drivers. Kids, parents, adults walked away with a big grin and surely happy to have showed up despite the weather.
The SportPesa Racing Point Formula One car will be showcased all through the Canadian International Auto Show taking place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from February 15-24.
Images: PMstills Photography