An ignition problem was to blame for Carlos Sainz failing to set a time in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the Spaniard expecting his race tomorrow will be especially tough.
The McLaren driver was on his first timed lap when he lost power accelerating up the hill in the final sector and returned to the pits. The team was unable to get Sainz back out on track in time and he was duly eliminated in Q1. He will thus be forced to start from the back of the grid unless the team opts to change any specification of the car, meaning then a start from the pit lane.
“It’s still open at the moment; we need to figure out what we want to do,” said team principal Andreas Seidl. “The wire system of ignition failed (at the start of qualifying) and that caused a power loss. It was nothing we could fix (in time).”
Sainz said he is expecting an especially tough challenge to climb through from the back as McLaren does not have the pace advantage it has enjoyed at other circuits this weekend at Interlagos.
“We’ve seen it this year at some tracks, that there are certain types of corners where we are not very strong,” Sainz explained. “This track has many of those types of corners, which is why our relative performance has dropped.
“It doesn’t mean that tomorrow we can’t make it back to the points; it just means it will be a lot tougher — tougher than in Austria, for example, when (the car) was good.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t do it; it means we need to (push harder).”
McLaren can secure fourth in the constructors’ championship this weekend if it outscores Renault by seven points. Sainz’ teammate Lando Norris will line up 10th, one position ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and three ahead of Nico Hulkenberg.