McLaren Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr says holding Pierre Gasly behind in the Hungarian Grand Prix was “intense” as the Spaniard managed to finish “ahead of a Red Bull on pure pure,” with fifth.
Sainz, and team-mate Lando Norris locked out the fourth row on the grid at the Hungaroring, and quickly jumped the slow-starting Gasly, with the former briefly going wheel-to-wheel with the two Ferrari drivers on the opening lap.
After Valtteri Bottas pitted on lap five to repair a broken front wing, Sainz moved up to fifth, and “in a fairly normal race, [showed] great pace [and] managed to score a top-five finish,” – his second successive fifth place after recovering to the position in Germany one week ago.
“This time, fifth place tastes much better than the fifth place of seven days ago,” Sainz explained.
“We executed the race perfectly. Holding Gasly behind in the second stint was intense, but I controlled the pace to counter-attack any opportunity he had to get closer and managed to finish ahead of a Red Bull on pure pace.”
Norris ultimately finished ninth, after a slow pitstop dropped him behind Kimi Raikkonen, while the recovering Bottas demoted the rookie driver from eighth late on.
The first-half of the 2019 season for McLaren is in stark contrast to the equivariant period 12 months ago.
Sainz and Norris have harvested a total of 82 points, 58 and 24, respectively armed with the MCL34, with McLaren making habitual Q3 appearances and scoring solid points.
In the same period in 2018, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne had hauled 52 points, but the team struggled badly with aerodynamic development after the Spanish Garand Prix, leading the two to only score 10 more points in total in the second-half of the campaign.
“I really want to thank and congratulate every single member of the team, here and back at the factory. I think these first dozen races show how much progress we’ve made this season, and we now need to keep digging,” said Sainz.
“The ambition is to get closer and closer [to the big three teams]. Everyone can be proud of how things are going and the consistency we’re achieving. To keep learning in the second half of the season is important to try to build a better car for next year and take another step. Now it’s time to recharge the batteries and come back even stronger.”