It was a positive day all round for the McLaren F1 Team in Singapore on Saturday, with both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris qualifying inside the top ten at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Sainz has shown good pace throughout the weekend, finishing seventh in every practice session before qualifying in the same position in Qualifying. The Spaniard admitted McLaren were expecting a tough weekend as low-speed tracks have been problematic to them in the past, so it was positive to show a good turn of pace.
“It’s been a very positive day for us,” said Sainz. “Congratulations to the whole team. We showed good pace on a low-speed track, which we know has been one of our weaknesses.
“The rear-end and the car in general has been behaving well the whole weekend and we managed to put together a very good lap in Q3, despite an engine misfire at the end of Sector Three. We lost a couple of tenths there but it didn’t affect the outcome, with P6 being likely out of reach today.
“P7 was the best position possible out there and it’s a good spot from which to fight tomorrow.”
Team-mate Norris also made it into the top ten, but whereas Sainz was happy with his performance in Q3, the Briton was far from pleased to end up tenth, with his out-lap ahead of his final flying lap compromising his run.
He felt he should have at least out-qualified the two Renault F1 Team drivers, although he does inherit one place on the grid following Daniel Ricciardo’s post-session disqualification.
“It was a good quali all the way until the final run in Q3,” admitted Norris. “I was getting more and more confident in the car, which was nice.
“Q1 was good, Q2 was good and then I didn’t quite get the out-lap I wanted which was a little bit annoying, because around here it’s important to have the confidence. I just made some stupid mistakes on my final run in Q3, pushed too hard in an attempt to make up time that I’d lost and the lap just ended up messy.
“It’s annoying, especially because I was behind two other cars that I shouldn’t be behind. But overall, I was very happy with the car – the team did a great job for me.”
Team Principal Andreas Seidl was pleased to see both cars qualify inside the top ten, but he knows there is a long, hard race ahead of everyone. However, he feels finishing inside the points on Sunday is in McLaren’s hands, even though a tight battle is expected.
“It’s great to be back with two cars qualifying in the top 10,” said Seidl. “This evening in FP3, we could confirm we have a strong car here with the updates the team back home have developed for Singapore. The team and drivers did a great job then to progress through the sessions in qualifying.
“Today is only Saturday and the points are distributed tomorrow. It’s going to be a long, hot street race and we’re expecting a very tight battle once again – but scoring good points is in our hands.”