Carlos Sainz says he was “risking everything” to secure his best-ever starting spot in Formula 1 during what he described as a “very stressful” qualifying. 

The McLaren driver grabbed third with a late effort in Q3 to claim his best F1 career starting spot for the Styrian Grand Prix during a wet qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring.

In what was a stellar performance, Sainz was just one-tenth shy of landing a front-row starting position and 1.398s adrift of poleman Lewis Hamilton, who stormed to a dominant pole position amid the treacherous conditions.

“Obviously a very happy and a very good day for me,” Sainz said.

“I’m quite pleased that my best qualifying of the year came in these conditions because I love driving in the wet and I’ve always enjoyed myself a lot.

“Today, I did enjoy myself, but I must say it was quite stressful, it was a very stressful qualifying session.

“It would be good for you to see what we are going through in a F1 car towards the end of Q3, with the amount of standing water, with aquaplaning, not seeing anything, and just keeping your foot flat, trusting that the thing is going to grip and putting a lap together towards the end and risking everything.

“Very happy, very stressful but at the same time, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow for my best starting position.”

Heavy rain and thunderstorms had already caused the start of qualifying to be delayed by 45 minutes, and there were concerns Q3 could be temporarily suspended as the weather deteriorated once more, but it ultimately went ahead and was completed as scheduled.

“Towards the end of the session it was definitely getting really, really tricky but I am glad they left us out there,” Sainz explained.

“These cars generate so much spray and so much water there was a very thin line where you put the tyres and there’s a small amount of grip to actually run.

“I think had the session been stopped the track would have just got worse and worse and then it would have been very difficult to get back out on track.

“These cars do a good job of drying out the track and keeping the water out of it.

“These are the conditions that we as drivers enjoy the most, as there is the most natural instinct and what comes to you first.”

 

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