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Sainz surprised by P6 after struggling for rhythm – and with phantom engine issue – in qualifying

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MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 06: Carlos Sainz of Ferrari and Spain during qualifying ahead of the

Carlos Sainz admits he was surprised to qualify as high as sixth for Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix, having encountered an engine issue before struggling to find a rhythm around the impressive Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

The Spaniard lost power in Q1, having just left the pit lane following the red-flag for Lance Stroll’s heavy crash, but the team were able to fix the issue remotely to enable him to push on, and while he left it late, the Ferrari leapt out of the drop zone into safety.

READ MORE: Mercedes shock Red Bull as Bottas takes pole ahead of Hamilton in Mexico

He outpaced his team mate Charles Leclerc when it mattered in Q3 to take sixth, lining up ahead of the Monegasque for the fifth time this year, but was left wanting more.

“The final result is not bad, but we expected to be in front of [Pierre] Gasly,” he said. “He had a tow, he was playing a bit of games with [team mate Yuki Tsunoda].

“After FP3 I felt really confident and all of a sudden, I lost the rhythm in qualifying.

Carlos Sainz 'lost the rhythm in qualifying' but 'P6 is not that bad' on Mexico City grid

“It’s been an eventful qualifying for me. From the start of Q1, I managed to do a very good lap and then I struggled with an engine issue at the exit of the pits. Then it was very difficult to get into a rhythm. I didn’t do a clean lap until Q3, and even the Q3 lap, because I was lacking a bit of rhythm, it was nothing special so I’m a bit surprised to see me up there in P6.”

Regarding the engine issue, Sainz said it is surrounding “a start procedure after leaving the box” where they are struggling but he reckons “we will figure it out for tomorrow and it shouldn’t be a big issue”.

HIGHLIGHTS: All the action from qualifying as Mercedes spring a shock in Mexico

Meanwhile Leclerc cut a disheartened figure after ending up eighth, having looked very competitive in the early segments of qualifying.

“I’m not happy with myself today,” he said. “It’s been a very difficult weekend for me. FP1, FP2, FP3, I just couldn’t find the feeling with the car and then in qualifying, finally I managed to find it.

“Q1, Q2 was very good and Q3 run one was very good too. Then run two I did a mistake that cost me all the hard work I had done before. I’m disappointed in myself and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.”

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