Carlos Sainz admits the battle to secure third place in the 2020 Formula 1 constructors’ championship is “getting tougher and tougher” for McLaren.

McLaren is embroiled in an intense scrap over P3 in the teams’ standings but lost ground to its nearest rivals by finishing behind Renault and Racing Point with both its cars in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last time out.

Sainz led home teammate Lando Norris in seventh place, while Daniel Ricciardo scored his second podium finish in three races for Renault and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez beat both McLaren drivers to sixth.

McLaren currently sits fourth in the constructors’ championship level on 134 points with Racing Point and one point adrift of Renault heading into the final four races of the season.

“The fight for third keeps getting tougher and tougher,” Sainz admitted after the last race at Imola.

“Our qualifying was not great but our race pace was actually really good. I felt like I was quicker than all the guys in front of me. It is just for some reason today it was very difficult overtake.

"I could only overtake Lando. And after that I could not pass Kvyat or the guys in front of me, but I think it was the same for everyone.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said the Woking outfit’s result at Imola was one of “damage limitation” following a poor qualifying session.

"I think we can be happy to go away with 10 points," Seidl said.

"And having been able to even score more points than Racing Point, and losing only a limited amount of points to Renault.

"It was damage limitation on a weekend where we couldn't compete with them in terms of performance.”

Seidl echoed Sainz’s conclusion that McLaren had more pace in the car but was unable to extract the full potential of its MCL35 due to being stuck in a train around the hard-to-pass-at venue.

"As Carlos says, he thinks he had definitely more pace in the car, but simply couldn't use it," he explained. 

"[It's] difficult to know where we would have ended up then. We simply have to be higher up in qualifying and then your race Sunday is also easier, that's what we have to focus on.

"We've seen with Carlos that on a track like this, if you're stuck behind a car, and I think we had maybe slightly more pace, we simply couldn't do anything.

"That's why I think in the end, we still need to be happy with the outcome that we could score 10 points.

"I think the team and both drivers in terms of race execution did a great job, very good pit stops and the right calls on the strategy side. So obviously, we benefited from the incidents, which kept us in the fight for this P3 [in the constructors]."



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