Carlos Sainz has hailed his run to fifth position in qualifying for his home Spanish Grand Prix as Toro Rosso produced its best combined qualifying performance since 2008.

On a weekend that has seen the Italian team show strong form during practice, particularly in the hands of Max Verstappen, it was Sainz that would emerge as its quickest contender, using his single lap in Q3 to sneak ahead of his team-mate for fifth place.

A remarkable performance in front of his home fans, who subsequently greeted his efforts with rapturous celebrations, he admits it wasn't a result he was expecting.

Related Articles

"We never expected a P5, it is never in your plans to be P5 especially in your home GP and after a tough FP2 and FP3 where I was not very comfortable with the car and we were having a lot of small issues," he said.

"Finally we put it altogether for qualifying and in Q1 it felt like a completely different car. Half a tenth here, half a tenth there I was improving, finally for Q3 I managed to put a very decent lap together.

"For the first time in the season, I was waving to the crowd and it felt like a pole position. It is the same feeling!"

With Verstappen joining him on the third row, it is Toro Rosso's best qualifying effort since the 2008 Italian Grand Prix when Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais qualified on pole position and in fourth place. However, though Vettel went on to secure a remarkable win on that wet day in Monza, Sainz expects to have a tough time holding onto a top five position tomorrow.

"Tomorrow we have to take into account that there is a Ferrari behind that has the best race pace of the whole field and a Williams that has 12kph more top speed than us, then we have two Red Bulls. P5 will be difficult tomorrow, but we will try our absolute best."