Carlos Sainz Jr. celebrated his birthday on Saturday with a strong performance in Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, which ended with the Spaniard seventh on the grid at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
With the midfield battle even closer this weekend than usual, the Renault Sport Formula One Team driver was able to escape Q1 in eighth, albeit by only 0.165 seconds, but was then able to advance into Q3, finishing with a time good enough for the inside of row four, 0.058 seconds clear of Racing Point Force India F1 Team’s Esteban Ocon.
“That’s a more than good enough birthday present!” said Sainz. “I’m very happy with that.”
Sainz went into the session with a new rear wing so was not sure as what to expect, but it was a good trio of sessions for the Spaniard.
He felt the strategy to get into the top ten shootout was perfect and it gives him and the team a good opportunity to fight for points on Sunday, which would be a good confidence boost for Sainz after only one top ten finish in the past five races, which was a ninth place finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“We changed the rear wing before qualifying so we went into the session a little bit in the unknown,” reflected the Spaniard. “We had good pace straight away, playing a bit with the slipstream to get the most from the higher downforce rear wing.
“I felt much more comfortable in the car today and the strategy in Q3 was perfect. We’ve turned it upside down since Spa to find more performance, so today is a pleasing end result.
“The team have worked really hard and we’re in a good position to fight for points tomorrow.”