McLaren duo Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris have insisted that Renault remains a threat in the race for fourth in the standings, despite the manufacturer’s Japanese Grand Prix exclusion.
Renault was found guilty of breaching the Sporting Regulations regarding the use of a driver aid, and was stripped of the points it earned at Suzuka.
That means McLaren now holds a 43-point advantage over Renault with just four rounds of the 2019 season remaining.
But, despite accepting it gave McLaren more margin, the duo dismissed suggestions that the squad was now safe in its ‘best of the rest’ position.
“I think before that we were already in a fairly good and comfortable position, but probably after that, it gives us probably even more margin, which is always helpful, because in the midfield you never know,” said Sainz Jr.
“If in one race there is chaos, and for some reason someone gets a third place or a fourth place, it’s a lot of points. It’s better to have more margin.
“[But] you can still get Renault to finish fifth and sixth in every race, or sixth and seventh, and us to not get too many points, but it’s more difficult for them for sure.”
Team-mate Norris added that “it can quite easily go wrong for us.
“If for whatever reason we have a double DNF it’s quite easy for Renault to get a load of points and within one race they could be completely back on us again and we have to start worrying about them.
“It’s nice after what happened that we have a bit more of a comfort gap, but all the way to Abu Dhabi we have to keep pushing.
“Renault have got a faster car than what they’ve been able to show in the past few weekends.
“Their race pace in Japan was very strong, they messed up in qualifying. I think they have a very fast car and just kept making mistakes… I hope they keep making those mistakes! If they don’t they’ll be very competitive.”