Carlos Sainz grabbed 10th place on the last lap Sunday.
Carlos Sainz fended off the efforts of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon to secure sixth in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship standings with a hard-fought run Sunday. Both Gasly and Albon have driven for the race winning Red Bull team in 2019 while Sainz has spent the year at McLaren.
Backmarkers in recent seasons, McLaren can celebrate one of their drivers topping a Red Bull driver. Fourth by 54-points from power unit supplier Renault in the constructors’ standings is also is a big improvement on sixth place in 2018 and ninth in 2017.
Sainz did not have things all his own way in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and was forced to take a risky second pit stop for fresh tires and had to make his way back up through the order. His season all came down to a do or die last lap pass on Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg for tenth place. The move and the single point were enough to move up into sixth spot in the championship.
“I wanted that P6 more than anything else and I had to do it in turn-11 of the last lap,” said Sainz. “I knew the last points finisher was Nico. Both Renaults and the McLarens were starting on the soft tire and it is a disadvantage, so we knew before making the last stop that I was out of the points.
“Perez and Kvyat were going to go through on us on a much fresher tire and we were going to stand still while we were out of the points. I knew we had to risk it (stopping again) so I said ‘come on. Let’s go for a medium tire’.
“I put on the medium tire 15-laps from the end and just started catching Nico. On the last lap I just made it and made it to turn 11.”
For Sainz, the whole weekend had been about his position in the standings. The Spaniard acted as though he was fighting to win the title itself and said that it was preparation for when the scenario happens in the future.
“I talked a lot with my team, my trainer, and we came into this weekend saying ‘let’s take it as if you were fighting for a world championship. Let’s take it as practice. P6 is not P1 but it’s big for you and for the team’.
“We put ourselves under pressure and tried to practice. I haven’t fought for wins in the last five or six years, it all has been P6, P7s, a podium in Brazil. So we approached it in this way.”
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