Carlos Sainz admits that McLaren would need to “gain another half a second” to make it worth defending against Mercedes and Red Bull.
Sainz was able to jump the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at the start of the Russian Grand Prix as he rose to P4.
However, Bottas would soon take that place back, while later in the race Sainz also fell victim to the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon who were recovering through the pack after engine penalties.
Sainz didn’t defend particularly hard against any of the three drivers, claiming that McLaren would need to “gain another half a second” to make it worth defending against Red Bull or Mercedes.
“I think unfortunately to fight Mercedes or Red Bull at the moment we need to gain another half a second to make it worth it, because at the moment it only makes you lose one or two seconds of your race time,” he told reporters in Sochi.
“With such a fast car like [Sergio] Perez on the straights coming from behind, I didn’t want to let him get into my DRS while battling with Alex Albon, because Racing Point are quick on the straights.
“There was a bit of management to do there, maybe if it was the last lap of the race no doubt I would have been more aggressive, but today after a few tough races it was important to get the points on the board.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 29, 2019
Sainz would secure P6 as team-mate Lando Norris made it a double-points finish for McLaren, and Sainz admitted that it was perfect race overall for the team.
“A good start, it was fun to race the leaders into Turn 1, I knew with my good starts this season I would have a chance,” he explained.
“[I thought] I just need to nail another good start and maybe I give myself another chance to fight with Ferrari and Mercedes, and that’s exactly what happened.
“It was a nice way to start and a nice way to motivate yourself, and then the race good pace, good management of the tyres, the whole strategy and we finalised the ‘best of the rest’ which is exactly what we wanted.”