Carlos Sainz Jr. outlined that maintaining patience amid a dip in results was key as he and McLaren strengthened their respective positions at the Russian Grand Prix.
Sainz Jr. failed to score in the first three post-summer grands prix, mirroring his overall start to 2019, but surged up to fourth in the opening lap in Russia, before coming home sixth.
The result maintained Sainz Jr.’s seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, on 66 points, with nearest midfield opponent – McLaren team-mate Lando Norris – 29 points adrift.
McLaren increased its buffer over Renault in the Constructors’ Championship to 35 points, as it crept closer to securing fourth spot.
“None of the zeros in the first half the season were really my fault, none of these three consecutive zeros after the summer break were my fault,” said Sainz Jr.
“It was just a matter of one race, nothing happening and being back to being the best of the rest.
“That patience that I’m having this year, trying not to lose my head too much with those zeros, with that touch with Nico [Hulkenberg in Singapore], with the pit stop in Monza when running in P6, it was just a matter of time again that it came back to us.”
Sainz Jr. added that McLaren extracted the maximum from its potential on a weekend in which it recovered from a subdued practice showing.
“I was nicely surprised to see that we held on to the P6,” he said. “We were 0.3-0.4s quicker than that Racing Point in qualifying and in the race, they were the same pace as us or maybe a bit faster.
“So it just shows that this weekend has been a tough weekend for the team in terms of race pace. A very good qualifying lap to sneak ahead of everyone and give me track position, but it’s been a tougher weekend than lately for the team.
“[But we had] very good pace all the way through and best of the rest which I think this weekend is the maximum we could do.”