Carlos Sainz Jr. says the outright pace the Renault Sport Formula One Team has shown during the Russian Grand Prix weekend so far dictated their strategy call during Saturday’s Qualifying session, with neither the Spaniard nor team-mate Nico Hülkenberg venturing out on track in Q2.
The duo finished fourteenth and fifteenth in Q1 but once it became clear that Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly were not attempting a lap in Q2 due to their grid penalties for engine changes, both Sainz and Hülkenberg remained in the pits knowing they would qualify no lower than eleventh and twelfth, positions that come with the free choice of starting tyre.
“Unfortunately we saw that our pace was not strong enough to fight for P5 or P6 so opting for the free tyre choice was too appealing to ignore with the tyre allocation here,” said Sainz.
“We saw the potential benefits of this strategy in Singapore and it could make for an interesting Grand Prix tomorrow. In the end, our pace will dictate our ultimate position, but we’ve given ourselves the best chance for the race.”
Team-mate Hülkenberg took the same approach and will join Sainz on the sixth row of the grid but he was in agreement with the Spaniard, feeling this approach was the best for the team with the pace the car has been showing this weekend.
“Today we ran a wise strategy,” said Hülkenberg. “A decent qualifying position was out of reach on pure pace so we opted for the approach which means we don’t have to start the race on the Hypersoft tyre.
“Everything we did today should help us in our battle on track tomorrow.”