Carlos Sainz was forced to slam the brakes on to avoid Alex Albon at the restart at Imola, putting him on the back foot for the last few laps.
Albon said Red Bull had told him that there was contact when he went for a spin shortly after the Safety Car restart at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and the Thai driver felt a McLaren was the culprit.
Replays seemed to clear the McLarens of any wrongdoing, and Sainz said that in taking evasive action to avoid Albon he was actually left on the back foot defending after the restart, instead he wanted to be attacking. In the end he had to settle for P7.
“It’s been a decent and well-executed race for the team. We moved up three positions, the boys did good pit-stops, we stayed out of trouble and pace-wise I felt like we were a bit faster than the cars ahead,” he told the McLaren website.
“However, overtaking was extremely difficult and I couldn’t move up the order as much as I obviously wanted.
“I had a big moment at the restart when Albon spun right in front me. I had to stamp on the brakes and then defend from the cars behind. I managed to save it and bring the car home seventh.
“With both cars in the top ten, we scored good points to keep in the fight for the Championship, but we need to keep improving because it keeps getting tighter and tighter.”
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Lando Norris was able to improve one place from his grid position to cross the line P8 behind Sainz and echoed his team-mate in saying that it was impossible to climb up the order.
“There wasn’t a lot we could do today. We couldn’t overtake, but neither could a lot of the field, even after the Safety Car,” he explained.
“We just didn’t have a big enough pace advantage to pass the cars in front. Even if you’re three or four tenths quicker, you just get stuck behind. They only have to defend into Turn One and then they’re safe for the rest of the lap. It became a race of trying to defend our position.
“Saying that, I don’t think we should be too disappointed. We still have a lot of pace, we’ve just been unlucky recently. We need to make sure it goes our way in the final few races and that’s what we’ll try and do.”
The battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship was already tight between Racing Point, McLaren and Renault heading in to the Emilia Romagna GP, but now all three teams head to the Turkish Grand Prix with almost nothing to separate them.
Renault moved up to P3 with 135 points thanks to Daniel Ricciardo’s P3 finish, but Racing Point and McLaren are then tied on 134 behind.
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