McLaren F1 Team’s Carlos Sainz Jr. is ready for his return to Formula 1 following the suspension of the championship due to the global Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown of many nations.
Having spent the impromptu break at home in Spain, Sainz is keen to get back in the driving seat at this weekend’s first of two consecutive visits to the Red Bull Ring in Austria, after his longest break in competition since his karting days.
“I know that by the time the lights go out on Sunday, we’ll be more than ready to fight for the best position possible,” said Sainz in a press release from the team.
The 25-year-old is feeling positive about the 2020 season debut, following strong outings during winter testing. He said, “The MCL35 felt really good during winter testing, a positive continuation of what we had last year, so I’m very excited to finally compete this season.
“It’s also been an interesting period away from track, but now we’re back to racing I’m completely focused on the 2020 season. Due to less races in the calendar and the strong competition we expect from our direct rivals we can’t afford to lose concentration. We actually don’t even know the amount of races we are going to do, it’s an unprecedented scenario, so every point we can get is absolutely crucial.”
Sainz finished eighth in the Austrian Grand Prix last year, picking up valuable points, after a fight from the back of the pack. The Spaniard started from the back of the grid after opting for an upgraded engine.
“Last year we did well in Austria, having to battle into the points from the back of the grid due to a penalty, so we know there are plenty of opportunities for on-track overtakes,” said Sainz.
The team had a strong finish at last year’s grand prix, with Sainz’s teammate Lando Norris, finishing two places ahead in sixth position. This year’s Austrian Grand Prix is unlike any other, with this weekend’s race being the first of two visits to the Styrian circuit on two consecutive weekends, after such a long time away, making it tricky to predict how the team will fare.
Sainz continued, “However, it’s difficult to confidently predict our performance given the time away from track. The double header at the same circuit presents a new challenge for everyone and we need to make sure we extract the maximum out of it.”