However, the team underestimated how much the track would ramp up and how much slower cars would gain from getting tows. Perez was eventually bounced down to 16th, missing out on Q2 by just 0.001s.
After analysing the situation the team has decided that from now on two runs will be the default plan in order to avoid risk, and that it will only switch to one if it’s absolutely clear that its drivers can get through with their first run time.
“We made a mistake in qualifying unfortunately,” team principal Otmar Szafnauer told Motorsport.com.
“We should have sent Sergio out, and I think that ultimately cost us. But mistakes should hurt you, and they have. Our default now is going to be to run twice, as opposed to the default being run once.”
Perez managed to recover to eighth in the race, finishing behind teammate Esteban Ocon. Both men gained a position from the exclusion of Romain Grosjean.
“I think Sergio would have got Grosjean, but nobody else. It worked out well, he did a great job, he was faster than Esteban towards the end.
“There was no sense in swapping them, there was just risk. And he had great race pace, there were times towards the end he was the fastest car on track, so it was really good.”
With the extra points generated by the Grosjean exclusion, in just two races under its new identity Racing Point Force India has passed Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso to take seventh in the constructors’ championship.
However, Szafnauer says that cushion won’t speed up the process of swapping Lance Stroll into the car, which is expected to happen at some point after Singapore.
“The driver change thing will be dependent on other factors. What we’ve got to do is keep our heads down and race well.
“We’ve got an upgrade coming in Singapore. I don’t know if anyone else does, hopefully that will allow us to score some good points.”
Technical director Andy Green says that the update, delayed by the team’s financial situation, is “a good step.”
“It’s a bit of everything, but it’s mainly aerodynamic.” said Green. “But there are some suspension bits in there as well. It’s a good step. Post-shutdown is when we normally do the big updates, so it’s slipped.
“The original target was actually before the shutdown, and then Spa, and then it slipped again. It’s currently on schedule for both cars to run in Singapore.”
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM11, leads Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM11
Photo by: Andrew Hone / LAT Images