Carlos Sainz helped his team-mate Charles Leclerc with a tow to make him faster in a successful fight for pole position at the French Grand Prix.
And with Sainz at the back, the Spaniard thinks his speed this weekend would have made life more difficult for his Ferrari colleague at the front on Sunday.
Leclerc took pole ahead of Max Verstappen in qualifying at Paul Ricard, while Sainz has taken several new engine components that will see him start the race from the back of the grid.
The Ferrari driver went through to Q3 regardless and said it had always been the plan to aid Leclerc with a tow once he knew of his penalties – and the plan was executed well.
But with his own pace being strong throughout qualifying, Sainz felt if he had been involved in the fight with his team-mate and both Red Bull drivers, it would be even more difficult for Leclerc to defend the lead in the race.
“I think if anything it will be easier because I’m not there,” Sainz said with a smile to Sky F1 after qualifying.
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“No, I think this weekend I’ve been very quick all weekend and my lap in Q2 (faster than Verstappen by nine tenths of a second) proves I’ve been very, very quick and he will have to fight it on his own tomorrow against Max, but I believe he can do it.
“I think this car in every race we go to is very quick. And it’s all about nailing the start and nailing the strategy, which I’m sure the team will do that.”
Sainz’s Q2 effort was almost a full second faster than every other driver at that time and he had been right on the pace of the front-runners throughout practice running too.
But with the engine penalties hanging over him for Sunday, he was left disappointed they had to be taken at a circuit where he has felt comfortable in his Ferrari.
“I think you just need to look at the whole weekend – I’ve been very, very quick,” he said.
“Also, in Q2 I think I was fastest, so it’s a bit of a frustrating situation to have to do this the weekend I’m feeling the best and at home with the car.
“But as I said, I’m happy Charles got the pole position, that we are out there as a team. I think we received a lot of critics this year about strategy and today just shows we are a very solid team, that we get on very well and there’s a very good atmosphere and that we are willing to help each other as much as possible.”
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