RACE DEBRIEF

    Carlos Sainz has apologised to his McLaren team after he crashed in the first practice session at Sochi, forcing them to repair his car against the clock in time for FP2 on Friday afternoon.

    Sainz, who was 12th then fourth in the two practice sessions ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix, crashed at Turn 7 in FP1 on Friday morning, having lost traction on the dusty, dirty surface of the rarely-used circuit. His crew then had just a couple of hours to get his car repaired and ready for FP2.

    READ MORE: FP2 – Bottas heads Hamilton in second practice at Sochi as Ricciardo impresses in P3

    After the afternoon session he said: “Everything [is] OK, thank God the mechanics did a great job to get the car back together for FP2 – so very happy with that.

    “And some apologies for the team, for causing them unnecessary stress in FP1. But the track was particularly dirty there and I think it caught us out there by surprise. In FP2, we could get back to business and complete a good session.”

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    Sainz's day rebounded after McLaren repaired his car on Friday afternoon in Russia

    McLaren are in a tough midfield battle for third in the constructors’ championship, with Racing Point just 14 points behind in the standings – but Renault are the team Sainz was concerned about in Russia as Daniel Ricciardo took second then third in the two practice sessions.

    READ MORE: Verstappen expecting tough fight for P3 in qualifying as Renault and McLaren impress in Sochi

    “They definitely seemed to have the edge over us in the last couple of races, especially on Friday they tend to be very, very quick, so hopefully we can get them tomorrow, but in general Renault look a bit strong,” he said.

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    Despite setting the fourth quickest time in the afternoon – with team mate Lando Norris right behind in fifth – Sainz said there was still a little more to come from his MCL35, once they can iron out the balance issues he felt on track.

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    “It [aero set-up] is very tricky, particularly my car today, we’ve been tending to be a bit on the understeer-y side so I was complaining a bit about the balance – but hopefully when it comes tomorrow we’ll get it right. We’re not that far off actually,” he explained.

    McLaren will be hoping to repeat or even better their 2019 performance at Sochi, where Sainz came home eighth and Norris sixth in a strong double points finish.