Carlos Sainz says McLaren can take "hope and ambition" from its impressive run to fifth place in the Hungarian Grand Prix that saw it outpace Ferrari at one stage of the race.

Sainz recorded his second straight fifth-place finish at the Hungaroring with a foot-perfect display, jumping teammate Lando Norris and Red Bull's Pierre Gasly at the start before keeping Gasly behind throughout the second stint of the race, having run long before pitting off the Soft tyre.

Sainz revealed after the race that he was told his pace was better than that of Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel in third and fourth towards the end of the opening stint.

"Maybe the Hungaroring has become a medium-speed track with these modern Formula 1 cars, because it feels really fast out there. That suits us a bit better than what we anticipated," Sainz said.

"Today from the start, overtaking a couple of cars, the first stint extending a lot the Soft tyre - actually I was told on the radio that in the last 5-10 laps of that first stint, we were quicker than the Ferraris, so everyone was really getting pumped up. We’re starting to see some progress on the car on tyre management.

"From there we just kept pushing, and then Gasly came a bit fast from behind, but we managed to hold him off. When you have good pace, it’s always easier to hold that kind of car behind.

"I'm very happy, strategy, pit stop - again everything perfect."

McLaren had expected to struggle in Hungary given the MCL34 car's perceived weakness in slow-speed corners, and while Sainz felt the result was something of a surprise, he felt the gap to the leading teams showed there was still work for the team to do.

"I think Hungaroring has become a track that is more medium-speed than low-speed, and I think that was helping our car," Sainz said.

"This kind of black tarmac as we saw in Austria or in Paul Ricard, the new surfaces help our performance, and I think this weekend we were pleasantly surprised.

"Still we were lapped, so that’s something that we need to add to that, that we’re still getting lapped so it means we still have a lot of work to do.

"But at the same time, the last part of that first stint gave us hope and ambition to know that we can keep closing on the top guys."

 

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