Carlos Sainz Jr. says the late issue that cost him sixth place in Sunday's French Grand Prix "hurts a little bit", believing Renault deserved to finish at the front of the Formula 1 midfield fight at Paul Ricard.

Sainz qualified as the leading driver behind the Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull runners in seventh, and made an excellent start to run as high as third in the early stages following the clash between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.

While Sainz could not stop Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and the recovering Vettel from passing, the Spaniard looked set to finish the race sixth before an MGU-K issue on his Renault power unit caused him to lose power.

French GP - Driver Ratings

A Virtual Safety Car period slowed speeds on-track, aiding Sainz to some extent, but he could nevertheless only finish in eighth place after losing places to Kevin Magnussen and Bottas in the final three laps.

"It hurts a little bit to end the race like that. We were having such a good weekend from start to finish," Sainz said.

"We had a strong qualifying, made a clean start running in the top three early on, and then controlling sixth. The second-half of the race was fast-paced and we were managing it well until the sudden problem, which cost us two or three seconds a lap.

"It’s a shame and I feel sorry for the whole team, as I think we deserved to be best of the rest today. These things happen in racing, and it’s my first reliability issue of the year, so let’s move on and start preparing Austria."

Nico Hulkenberg finished the race just behind Sainz in ninth, bouncing back from a Q2 knockout on Saturday that had left him 12th on the grid.

"It was good out there today, I’m happy to gain a few places and finish in the points," Hulkenberg said.

"Lap 1 was interesting, just to survive was important as it was carnage everywhere. We were a little on the back foot yesterday, so ninth was probably the best we could achieve today. I had fun out there, though, making a couple of overtakes and enjoying a bit of racing.

"Carlos was on for a good result and it’s a pity he missed out on sixth as that would have been really good points for the team. Overall, we’ve gained points in the constructors’ so that’s not too bad at all."

Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul added: "We had a decent finish with a bit of frustration. It was pretty much a perfect weekend from Carlos so I feel sorry for him and losing some well-deserved places due to the MGU-K failure.

"Nico did struggle more this weekend and was not able to deliver his customary strong finish, however we come away with a number of points on a track we knew would be challenging. We are still consolidating that fourth position and are now five points ahead of our entire 2017 points tally after only eight races.

"We are getting stronger and we must employ all the support we feel from French Grand Prix this weekend to keep pushing."