McLaren very happy with two top ten starts in Russian GP qualifying

McLaren F1 Team have had a positive day in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix this weekend after both drivers qualified within the top ten.

Carlos Sainz Jr. put a 1:32.550 on the timesheets, meaning he will start from sixth position, using the soft compound tyre. His team-mate, Lando Norris, will start in eighth, also on the soft tyre, setting a 1:32.847 personal best.

Sainz Jr. said that while their performance in the final practice session had been encouraging, once qualifying got underway they saw that the track and wind conditions were different, altering the balance of the car.

“I’m very happy with sixth today after a challenging session for us. We were encouraged after our Free Practice 3 pace but, as soon as qualifying started, we saw that the wind conditions and track temperature had changed, which compromised our car balance.”

Despite this, he considers it to be a strong starting position, giving them the opportunity to score some solid points in the race.

“Nonetheless, I managed to put in good laps from the first run in Qualifying 1, saving a new set for Qualifying 3, and putting together all sectors on my last attempt to grab sixth for tomorrow. It’s a good starting position for the race so now we need to make sure we finish the job tomorrow.”

“The car had good pace and I felt pretty confident in it” – Norris

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Sainz Jr.’s team-mate Norris also had a strong qualifying session, although he noted that his runs were made difficult due to red flags and slower moving traffic.

He said: “It was a messy qualifying with the red flag and traffic on my laps, so it was tricky, but the car had good pace and I felt pretty confident in it.

“I just didn’t have two sets of new tyres in the final quali and it made my life a bit more difficult. I’m still happy, I don’t think eighth’s terrible. It was close, so I don’t think I could’ve done miles better.

“It’s good to be back” – Seidl

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Team principal Andreas Seidl was pleased with the performance the team has put in so far this weekend, despite the challenges they faced during qualifying.

“A challenging qualifying but it’s good to be back, with both cars once again making it through to Qualifying 3. The team, together with the drivers, worked very hard last night to make further improvements to the car, and that helped us look very strong in Free Practice 3,” he said.

He added: “As the afternoon went on, and the ambient conditions changed, it looked like we lost a little bit of that performance when compared with our main competitors. Sixth and eighth are good starting positions tomorrow and will let us fight for good points. We’re looking forward to an exciting Russian Grand Prix.”

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