F1 News: Racing Point set to be "extremely competitive" in aborted Australian GP - Perez

Sergio Perez says Racing Point had "big hopes" of its controversial 2020 Formula 1 car being "extremely competitive" at the aborted Australian Grand Prix after seeing its potential in testing

During the two tests at Barcelona in February, long-run comparisons suggested Racing Point's RP20 machine was ahead of its midfield rivals, while Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said the team was "a threat" to his squad.

There were also there were signs Racing Point was potentially masking its ultimate performance.

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Although Perez played down the possibility of challenging the top teams during the shortened event in Melbourne, he has since revealed that Racing Point had strong expectations for the expected start of the F1 season, which has been greatly delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Obviously we didn't see that full potential, the full picture of our car because pretty much everyone hides a bit [in testing]," Perez told Autosport.

"But I can tell you Barcelona is not our strongest circuit either. So, for Melbourne we had big hopes, very big hopes we were going to be extremely competitive there.

"But let's wait and see when we can race [in 2020]."

The Mercedes W10-inspired RP20 moves Racing Point's aerodynamic philosophy from high-rake to low-rake.

When asked if he had had to adapt his driving style as a result, Perez said: "Yeah, it drives a bit differently - in the car and the way you set up the car especially.

"It's basically a whole new car that we've got to work with, to learn from it and make it better - make sure we set-up the car in the right operating window.

"And that's been very challenging. But I think we've done a great job on testing to understand that and we're well prepared for the first race."

Aston Martin re-brand needed to take the team "to the next step"

Racing Point will be re-branded as Aston Martin in 2021, with both entities now helmed by Lawrence Stroll.

Perez, who joined the team during its final financially-stricken years as Force India, expects the change to be greatly beneficial.

He said: "Definitely as a brand, an iconic, world-wide brand being back in Formula 1 is a huge boost for the team, puts a lot of pressure in the team.

"But I think this is what the team needed to go to the next step.

"It's a great story that we've going to tell to Formula 1. I'm extremely proud and honoured to be part of this project."

Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer says the aim of the soon-to-be re-branded squad, which last won a race as Jordan at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, is to fight at the front of the F1 grid.

"It's going to be our job [Szafnauer and technical director Andre Green] and the job of the 463 other people that work there to make sure that Aston Martin is as competitive as it needs to be to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes," he told Autosport.

"And that's going to be our job - to be able to do that.

"There'll be some technology transfer as well, mainly from probably the F1 team into their new road cars.

"We've got a windtunnel at Brackley for example that they're going to be using, and we'll give them some expertise on how to do some aerodynamics for their road cars.

"Just like Ferrari goes racing and it helps their road cars, Aston Martin will go F1 racing now and that'll help their road cars.

"So it's a lot happening but there will be some synergies that will be a win-win for both companies."

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