RACE DEBRIEF

    In his own words, he’s been on the back foot this weekend. But Carlos Sainz shrugged off his woes in qualifying around Monaco to finish ninth for McLaren – and maintain his streak of top 10 starts in the Principality, which dates all the way back to 2016, in the process.

    Free Practice 1 was pretty much a non-event for Sainz, after an issue with his energy store saw him limited to just four laps. Then after recovering to finish 11th in FP2, a set-up misdirection threw Sainz off his game in FP3, leaving him P15 ahead of qualifying. But out of nowhere, the Spaniard found the groove in his MCL34, making it out of Q2, in contrast to team mate Lando Norris, and ending up P9.

    Suddenly in Q1, I managed to get the feeling back and when you get the feeling back, you just go forward

    Carlos Sainz

    “A stressful one, like always here in Monaco,” said Sainz afterwards. “The whole weekend, we’ve been honestly a bit on the back foot, after FP1, FP2 getting up to speed, FP3 losing the direction with the set-up and ending up P15. Then suddenly in Q1, I managed to get the feeling back and when you get the feeling back, you just go forward. So good Q3, I think… P9 today is a great turnaround of the weekend.”

    2019 Monaco GP

    While Sainz has started every Monaco Grand Prix since 2016 in the top 10, his points-scoring record goes back even further, with the Spaniard having top 10’d in Monte Carlo ever since his first F1 race here with Toro Rosso in 2015. And asked what the secret was to his speed around the Principality, Sainz replied: “I like these streets. They are stressful, but I don’t know, I just enjoy it.

    “Before quali, you are nervous here,” he added, clutching a post-qualifying ice cream. “That’s why I’m having this to calm myself down. So, nervous, stressful, but you also have fun because you cannot believe how fast you can go around here until you do it.”

    Looking ahead to Sunday, according to Sainz, there’s enough pace in his McLaren for him “to move forward” from his current grid slot – and with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set to start the Monaco Grand Prix down in a lowly P15, the potential is heightened for Sainz to score a big result for McLaren come race day…

    Carlos Sainz: We can improve from P9