The headlines were looking good for McLaren after Friday’s running at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Carlos Sainz finishing Free Practice 2 in seventh and team mate Lando Norris just three places further back. But despite the impressive numbers, Sainz stated that the team still had ‘a lot of work to do’ to get him feeling comfortable heading into qualifying and the race.
Sainz finished FP2 less than two-tenths off Valtteri Bottas’ fifth-placed time for Mercedes. But it was track evolution, rather than any special feeling behind the wheel of his MCL34, that was responsible for the time, according to the Spaniard – and it left him uncertain of McLaren’s prospects for the rest of the weekend.
“I think that we cannot be taking any conclusions from this first [representative] session because I wasn’t very comfortable with the car,” said Sainz, “not comfortable at all with the warm-up of the tyres and I think some people were doing their lap times at the beginning of the session when it was very dirty. We did it a bit more towards the end when the track was cleaner. So not really a conclusion to take. We might be sixth, seventh or we might be sixteenth.”
Sainz went on to admit that he’d surprised himself with his lap time, having struggled for confidence around the 6.003km Baku track.
“I didn’t feel quick at all,” he said. “I was quite surprised to see [that] lap time, because honestly, in the car, it felt quite stressful not being able to warm up the rear tyres, struggling in pretty much every braking zone, every corner entry and yeah, a lot of work to do for tomorrow.
“I prefer to guide myself more by feeling than by lap time and at the moment, the feeling is still not there yet and we need to work a lot.”