Sainz avoids grid penalty for Giovinazzi block – but says Q3 appearance leaves ‘sour feeling’
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was given a reprieve by the Hungarian Grand Prix race stewards after he blocked Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi in the first part of qualifying, as they opted against handing a grid penalty to the Spaniard. But Sainz had other things on his mind going into Saturday evening as he admitted to ruing his progress through to Q3 at the Hungaroring.
Sainz was caught dawdling on the racing line by Giovinazzi on the entry to Turn 6 during the Italian’s second flying lap in Q1 – with the stewards ultimately ruling that no further action was required, while upbraiding McLaren for not having warned Sainz of Giovinazzi’s approach.
Sainz went on to make it through to Q3 before qualifying P9, one place behind team mate Lando Norris. But with both drivers struggling with balance and set to start the race on the soft tyres – which appear to be degrading quickly at the Hungaroring – Sainz was not a content man after qualifying.
“It’s been tougher since the beginning [of the weekend],” he said. “I’m not feeling quite the balance in Sector 3 and always struggling with the rear end in the last part of the lap. I managed to put a decent lap together but a lot of moving around in Sector 3. We are not quite there and in the end P9, which leaves me with a bit of a sour feeling because I would rather be 11th with a medium tyre into tomorrow than ninth with a soft.
“When you go into race day you always need to look forwards,” he added, “but at the same time, the Renaults with the choice of tyre, the soft degrading like crazy yesterday that we’re going to need to start on, it could spice up things in the midfield – but our target is to keep moving forward and capitalise on other people’s mistakes.”
With first Norris and then Sainz having enjoyed starting from third on the grid at the Austrian and Styrian Grands Prix at the Red Bull Ring, and McLaren bagging 39 points across the two weekends to put them second in the constructors’ championship, Norris conceded that the Hungaroring had brought the team back down to Earth.
“I think we just did a very good job in the first two weekends and outscored a lot of quicker cars,” he said. “But I think today was more realistically where we should have been. I’m happy to be as close as I was to a couple of cars ahead of us.
“It was tough; the car’s not been the easiest and it’s been tricky for both of us,” he added. “[But] it’s not a shock, I’m not disappointed in any way. I don’t think [improving] my lap would have put me a load of positions up or anything, but for once I’m kind of happy that I’m P8!”