It would be no understatement to say Carlos Sainz produced one of the finest performances of his Formula 1 career on Saturday. The Renault driver mastered the wet conditions in Hungary to put his R.S.18 a personal best fifth in qualifying, only a shade behind the Mercedes and Ferraris. Little wonder then that he says it’s a day he won’t forget in a hurry…
With the rain throwing a curveball in qualifying at a soaking Hungaroring, Sainz was among those who flourished amid the downpours and at one stage he was running as high as third place in Q3.
He ended up in P5, half a second down on fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, but almost a second quicker than his closest midfield rival - Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly in sixth.
“It’s very important (to qualify fifth on the grid),” he said. “We need to finish it off tomorrow. But even if something weird happens to me tomorrow, I will be very proud with what we have achieved today.
“To put the car in P3 in wet conditions, in P2 in Q2... It’s always amazing, and it comes at an important moment," added Sainz, referencing the fact that the driver market remains fluid.
"I was not worried (in the wet). The team engineers, and mechanics were trusting me a lot, and they were really happy with me today.
“I will fight tomorrow. It’s a track a bit like Monaco where you can fight, and you can try to keep cars behind. I think eventually the Red Bulls will clear me. I look forward to the race tomorrow because we are fast in both conditions. We were seventh fastest in FP3 so we have a good chance.”