In what was a dramatic end to qualifying at the Sochi Autodrom, Sainz briefly took provisional pole position before being beaten by ex-teammate Lando Norris.

It was Sainz’s best-ever qualifying result but he admitted that missing out on a maiden pole position means it “doesn’t taste as good”.

“It’s a good result, definitely,” Sainz said. “I was so close to pole position that maybe the second place doesn’t taste as good as it should, but I think it was well executed, a good lap, unfortunately, I was one of the first to cross the line on the slicks so you are left wondering if you did it a bit later how much quicker you would have gone but it was a good lap, on the limit, good battles with these guys out there, got to enjoy it in these tricky conditions you enjoy more in a Formula 1 car.”

Looking ahead to the race, Sainz hopes he will be able to fend off the two Mercedes drivers and Sergio Perez.

“It’s a strange circuit this one, race pace is important and we need to see how easy it is to overtake,” Sainz added. “Normally in the past, it has been quite tricky, we have the two Mercedes and the Red Bull that are going to be pushing us a lot.

“They are clearly around here half a second to a second faster than us so at some point, they will put pressure on us and we will need to see if we can keep ourselves ahead, obviously the target is to finish ahead, try and get Lando at the start, but I’m on the dirty side and see if from there we can race hard and have some fun at the front.”