Carlos Sainz Jr. said he was “very happy” following a “crazy” Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in which he took his first fifth place (and second-best career result).
Sainz started in ninth and, unlike team-mate Niko Hülkenberg, steered clear of any first-lap drama. He then used the surprising pace of his Renault RS18 to overtake the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers, and Renault engine customers, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who were both struggling with tyre temperatures. Sainz pitted and then struggled with the Soft compounds, before a crash between Ricciardo and Verstappen brought out the safety car, and a crash behind the safety car from Romain Grosjean lengthened the period.
This set up a final four-lap sprint for the line, and saw Sainz rise from sixth to fifth – benefitting from the retirement of Valtteri Bottas.
Speaking after the race, Sainz said their pace was a positive, and sets them up well for his home race in Catalunya.
“It’s a very strong result for the team. I’m very happy and it was a really fun race, as always in Baku. It was crazy out there as the grip was difficult today. The first stint was very strong and I was able to overtake both Red Bulls on track.
“Then, the soft tyre was trickier for us and in the end we had to battle for that fifth place. It is positive for the team to go into Europe in a strong place in the Championship. I need to keep working hard with my engineers to keep building the car to my liking and to keep the points coming. Next stop is Spain and I really look forward to it.”