New McLaren F1 Team signing Carlos Sainz Jr. described his 2018 as a “bittersweet” year, having missed out on some good results due to adverse fortunes.
Sainz Jr. achieved his best finish of the campaign at Azerbaijan in April with fifth and could not repeat the feat for the rest of the year, ending up 16 points and three places adrift of Renault Sport F1 Team team-mate Nico Hülkenberg in the Drivers’ Championship. A solid drive to sixth in the season finale at Abu Dhabi enabled him to make the top ten of the standings.
The Spaniard, who has taken the place of Fernando Alonso at McLaren after seeing his mixed loan spell with the French marque end, lost out on promising positions in France and Mexico to reliability issues. He also saw his tenth place in Germany taken away due to overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
“You can imagine the long process and what you need to do as a driver to extract the maximum out of the car,” Sainz Jr. told Motorsport.com.
“What you need to do as a driver talking to the team about what you need, but what also the team can do for you to make that happen.
“I think we achieved it. It’s just something that really hurts, that the races that we were about to get a lot of points and show that we were doing it very well, like Mexico or Paul Ricard, where we were leading the midfield clearly, we just didn’t get the reward.
“It has been a bittersweet year in that way.”
24-year-old Sainz Jr. also warned against judging the midfield runners’ capabilities on the big results they achieve, noting that there is a high need for luck in order to take spots in the top five or six in race circumstances. Instead, Sainz Jr. said that he took more pride in the results that flattered the machinery, like his tenth place at the Japanese Grand Prix – a weekend that saw Renault lag behind its usual pace.
“Probably my best whole race weekend was Suzuka,” he continued. “I got a point, I feel that weekend I extracted everything there was from that car, I overtook four or five people in the race.
“It was a difficult weekend for the team but I still managed to bring home one point. That’s why I say in the midfield you need to be lucky to get a lot of points.
“Sometimes this year I think I performed my best level but the car wasn’t P7 so I didn’t get that many points, or I was at my best level and my car was P7, but the car did not finish.
“You need that kind of luck and balance.”