Carlos Sainz says McLaren drew inspiration from the pace he was able to show on his way to a second consecutive fifth place at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Starting from eighth on the grid, Sainz jumped team-mate Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly on the opening lap of the race, and then inherited another position when Valtteri Bottas had to pit for a new front wing. From there he was able to hold on to fifth and show impressive performance at a track where McLaren had expected to struggle.
“It feels great,” Sainz said. “Maybe the Hungaroring has become a medium-speed track with these modern Formula 1 cars because it feels really fast out there. That suited us a bit better than what we anticipated.
“Apart from that, from the start I was overtaking a couple of cars, extending the first stint a lot on the soft tire – I was actually told on the radio in the last five or 10 laps of that first stint we were quicker than the Ferraris, so everyone was really getting pumped up and starting to see some progress on the car and the tire management.
“From there on we just kept pushing. Then Gasly came a bit fast from behind, but we managed to hold him off. When you have good pace it’s always easier to hold that kind of car behind, but I’m very happy. Strategy, pit stops, again everything was perfect.”
Sainz managed to hold Gasly at bay relatively comfortably despite pressure from the Red Bull for a number of laps, and described it as a repeat of his fight with Daniel Ricciardo at Silverstone.
“Well, you could see he was pretty quick in the corners, but I took a very similar approach as with Ricciardo,” he said. “Just don’t make any mistakes, place the car well in the right places and he would need to do a launch into Turn 1, which I think was a bit too risky. He was never quite there to do it.
“But in a normal dry race, to finish in the top five – the second consecutive top five – it feels particularly good.”