RACE DEBRIEF

    Carlos Sainz was left with a very bittersweet taste in his mouth after the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, the McLaren driver pleased on the one hand to have taken fifth place after struggling to 10th in qualifying – but with Sainz concerned about how challenging his uprated MCL35 had been to drive during the race.

    McLaren brought an upgrade package to the Eifel Grand Prix weekend, focused around the MCL35’s bargeboard area and trialled on Sainz’s car as team mate Lando Norris kept the old package. But with Norris having outqualified the “struggling” Sainz on Saturday, Sainz was then left unsatisfied by the car’s performance in the race, despite benefitting from a number of high-profile retirements – including Norris himself – to finish P5.

    READ MORE: Hamilton takes record-equalling 91st victory as Ricciardo claims first Renault podium at Eifel GP

    “After what happened [in qualifying] and the 60 struggling laps that I had today, definitely,” replied Sainz when asked if he was satisfied with the result. “I didn’t have a good feeling all weekend, or during the 60 laps. I never felt in contention for that podium that I could see in front of me.

    “I mean, I have to be happy because I think we extracted the maximum today,” Sainz added, “but when you see a podium that close, but the feeling with the car is so, let’s say, not good and I had so much graining, it’s difficult to accept.”

    F1 Eifel Grand Prix
    Sainz said all 60 laps at the Nurburgring were a struggle

    A lack of any running at all on Friday at the Nurburgring had left McLaren unable to try and dial in their new package in Free Practice 1 and 2. And that uncertainty about the upgrade’s efficacy, Sainz felt, was likely to carry over to the next race in Portugal in two weeks’ time.

    READ MORE: Ricciardo says Eifel GP podium ‘feels like the first all over again’

    “If we would have had Friday to develop this package, would the package be a lot better than it is now, or is the package not working as it should?” said Sainz. “That’s the biggest question mark that we have going into the next couple of weeks where we need to do a lot of homework, because the feeling with the car today, the amount of graining I had because of the understeer I was carrying, is not very good. So let’s say a couple of important weeks ahead to figure out what we do next.”

    Meanwhile, with Norris retiring from the race, Racing Point were able to outscore McLaren 16 points to 10, to steal third in the constructors’ standings off McLaren – while a podium for Daniel Ricciardo also moved fifth-placed Renault two points away from McLaren in the title race.

    Carlos Sainz happy with P5 after difficult Nurburgring weekend