McLaren’s Carlos Sainz has hailed his best ever qualifying result in what he described as “the toughest” conditions of his career, as heavy rain pelted the Red Bull Ring for this weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
Sainz will line-up third on the grid alongside Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas as he mastered the tricky conditions which initially saw qualifying delayed by half an hour.
“I’m very happy to come back, on back-to-back weekends and be P3 for the first time in my career. Second row feels amazing, especially because this qualifying was probably one of the toughest I’ve done in my Formula 1 career.
“Putting it all together…on the last lap I had a really good lap, but there was so much aquaplaning – it was crazy on the straights, you’d put your foot down and you’d be sliding on the straights.
“It’s something that I enjoy but I was talking to Max and Lewis and they were also quite excited about it.”
The Spaniard knows it will be a tough ask to keep third on Sunday given dry conditions are expected and there’s some quick cars starting behind him, but remains hopeful McLaren’s strong race pace can see him score a handful of points.
“The car has been better than we thought in race trim, after testing in Barcelona. We are quite confident going into tomorrow but, at the same time, we saw again on Friday the Red Bull, the Ferrari, the Racing Point – I actually don’t know where they are starting from – but it’s good.
“I’m sure I’m going to have Alex, I’m going to have Valtteri behind me, it’s going to be a tough few laps but hopefully after that I’ll be able to settle into my own pace.”
McLaren’s Lando Norris – who finished third last weekend – qualified sixth but will start ninth after incurring a three-place grid penalty for overtaking under yellow flags during practice on Friday.