Carlos Sainz’s credited McLaren race engineer Tom Stallard for guiding him through the Styrian Grand Prix’s treacherous waters in qualifying and to a career best P3 result.
Sainz stayed on course through the first two segments of the rain-hit session, and then produced a late flyer that will put him on the second row of tomorrow’s grid behind poleman Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Max Verstappen.
While the Spaniard brilliantly negotiated the extraordinarily challenging conditions, he admitted to a “quite stressful” Q3 as conditions limited visibility, forcing him to rely on his race engineer to help him with track position.
2020 Styrian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
“Today I did enjoy myself but I must say it was quite stressful, it was a very stressful qualifying session,” commented a relieved Sainz.
“It would be good for you guys to actually see what we go through in a Formula 1 car, like towards the end of Q3 with the amount of standing water and aquaplaning and not seeing anything.
“Just keeping your foot flat and trusting that the thing is going to grip so you can put a lap together towards the end and risking everything.
“So I am very happy but it was very stressful at the same time.”
Sainz knew beforehand that he would be venturing out onto a perilous track and into tense conditions.
“I was talking to Tom my engineer before the session and let him know he was on for one of the most stressful qualifying sessions of the year and he agreed with me that the wet qualifying are the most difficult from a race engineer point of view and I think he did a tremendous job.
“We are completely blind in the car as we cannot see anything in front or at the back, we don’t even know who is pushing and who is not and you don’t want to disturb someone but you want to keep track position so they are our eyes in these conditions.”
Sainz shied away from making any bold predictions for race day, but admitted that Friday’s FP2 session had been a productive one in terms of fine tuning his car’s race trim.
“I don’t know how we are going to do tomorrow, I just know that we were focused a lot in FP2 on the long runs to see how the long compounds behaved and try to make the right decision for tomorrow,” he said.
“It is very tricky because if you don’t know the fuel or engine modes that everyone is running.
“I wouldn’t say that we were particularly that far off in the race last weekend we just went back to our normal position or where we deserved to be.
“But I think we over-delivered in qualifying, well Lando [Norris] over-delivered with an incredible lap in qualifying, so let us see what we can do tomorrow but I am definitely excited about it.”
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