RACE DEBRIEF

    Carlos Sainz's Belgian Grand Prix was over before it even started after the Spaniard suffered a technical failure on his way to the grid.

    The McLaren driver was making his way to take his place on the pit straight half an hour before the race at Spa when smoke could be seen coming from the rear of his MCL35.

    He reported a problem and was immediately told to return to the pits. He drove straight back to the garage and jumped out of the car as the team looked into the issue.

    READ MORE: Norris blasts Ocon for ‘dangerous’ out lap at Spa after qualifying P10

    McLaren then confirmed Sainz would not be starting the race, blaming an exhaust failure on his car.

    The team said: "Carlos' DNS was due to a PU issue that led to exhaust failure, which we will investigate further after the race."

    It's a bitter blow for Sainz who had qualified a strong seventh for this race - his best ever grid slot position for the Belgian GP.

    It's the second year in succession that Sainz has suffered early disappointment at Spa: his race in 2019 ended on the parade lap after his Renault power unit failed.

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    "On the second lap to the grid I started actually smelling something not quite right on my car and suddenly I started hearing that the exhaust had broken," said Sainz. "I went into the pits and then we found out it was actually a PU issue that generated an exhaust blowout.

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    Sainz qualified seventh on Saturday

    "Second consecutive year that I’m not even able to start the race at Spa. It’s my favourite track – so you can imagine, I’m not happy."

    McLaren's hopes now rest on the shoulders of Lando Norris, who starts tenth on the grid. He too had a disappointing race at Spa last year, when he was forced to retire from fifth place on the very last lap, also with a power loss problem.