Otmar Szafnauer has revealed Racing Point “deliberated long and hard” but took the gamble to change the engine on Sergio Perez’s car because of the belief he can recover from a back-of-the-grid start in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
The team has replaced the internal combustion engine, traction control and MGU-H units on the Mexican’s car, all for the fourth time this season, when only three are allowed.
As a result, Perez will start 19th alongside the similarly penalised Haas of Kevin Magnussen. A week ago, the 30-year-old won the Sakhir GP from 18th and last at the end of the opening lap.
“For sure, it's going to make it harder starting towards the back but at the same time we saw what Checo could do last weekend,” said Szafnauer.
“He was last at one point and came through the field to win. It might be a little more difficult overtaking here but I still think it’s possible, so we’ll do the best we can from our starting position.”
Szafnauer said there were no concerns about the power unit failing during the last race, where Perez scored his first victory in 190 races, but that the team decided it was not worth the risk of failing to finish in such a vital race.
The team currently leads the race for third in the constructors’ championship, after leap-frogging over its rivals to sit 10 points ahead of McLaren with just one race remaining.
Going into the race, McLaren has the clear edge over Racing Point as Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz start fourth and sixth.
Every point will count in Sunday’s race and Szafnauer added: “We deliberated long and hard as to what the risks would be for that powertrain to do an even further race and time will tell.
“It’s never a controlled experiment. You don’t know, had we not taken a new power train, if that would have lasted.
"But on the balance of probabilities, we thought it would be best to go with a new power train and take the penalty.”
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