Carlos Sainz will line up on the front row of the Russian Grand Prix alongside his former McLaren sidekick Lando Norris, and suggests the poleman and himself could work together at the outset to pull away from the field.
Sainz qualified a career best second in Sochi, just ahead of Williams’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
However, the back row starts of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, and Valtteri Bottas’ demotion to P17 following an engine change, means that Norris and the Ferrari driver will have less potentially faster rivals to contend with at the start of Sunday’s race.
“I either get a good getaway and it’s a direct race into Turn 2, or if not, obviously I’ll need to try to find a slipstream, because we know we are not the fastest on the straights and we are going to need to find some tow, some draft, because if not, it’s going to be a long run down into Turn 1,” said Sainz as he laid out his options.
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“I’ve been sharing rows with this guy [Norris] pretty much the last two years in Formula 1, so we know very well each other.
“Hopefully we can have a good start, both and keep pulling away because there’s going to be the guys behind coming, and that’s going to be when the fun starts.
Sainz was speaking on Saturday before the news of Bottas’ grid penalty. The Scuderia charger will have one less Mercedes and Red Bull driver to contend with at the start, but Sainz still expects to have Hamilton and perhaps Sergio Perez breathing down his neck at some point.
Read also: Sainz aiming to ‘put up a fight’ from front row
“It’s a strange circuit this one – because obviously race pace is important and we need to see how easy it is to overtake,” explained the Spaniard. “Normally in the past it has been quite tricky.
“Obviously we have the two Mercs and the Red Bull that are going to be pushing us a lot.
“They are clearly, around here, half a second to one second quicker than us, so at some point they will put pressure on us and we will need to see if we can keep ourselves ahead.
“Obviously the target is to finish ahead of them, try to get Lando at the start although I am starting on the dirty side, he is at least starting on the clean side, and see from there if we can race hard and have some fun at the front.”
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