Sainz dropped behind Sergio Perez and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc after contact with Lando Norris on the approach to Turn 1.

Norris got a good start from fifth on the grid, moving to the right to Sainz but in doing so, he ran out of room, clipping the Spaniard’s front wing and giving himself a puncture.

Sainz got away relatively unscathed but lost crucial track position.

It was in stark contrast to the lightning start he made in Saturday’s sprint race where he went from fifth to second. 

“Yeah, actually, we were just having a look at it now,” Sainz said. “Because obviously after a race, I was very confused. So actually, the procedure was spot on, I did exactly the same as I did yesterday. 

“And I did exactly what I had to do today, which left me actually really relieved because most of the times this year, it's been me actually not getting it fully right and failing a bit with a procedure.

“But today, I nailed the procedure, it should have been a good start in our numbers, but we are analysing that there was possibly something strange in the clutch, I cannot go into specifics. 

“And maybe not as much as we expected in the P3 position in the grid. But we are having an analysis into it because the procedure was exactly what I had to do today. So I'm going to be confused from it rather than see this negative.”

It was a strong day for Ferrari in Sao Paulo as by finishing fifth and sixth, it extended its lead over McLaren to 31.5 points.

Despite the healthy margin, Leclerc isn’t getting carried away given that McLaren is expected to go well in Qatar and Saudi Arabia due to its long straights and high-speed corners.

“We definitely look to have a healthy gap and also having the upper hand but I think it's not over yet,” Leclerc added. “I think they just need a very strong weekend in one of these last three races to suddenly get themselves back into a good position. 

“I think Qatar and Saudi are circuits that will go very well for the McLaren. So we need to stay alert.”