It has been a mixed run for Renault’s Carlos Sainz in the first half of the 2018 Formula 1 season and the Spaniard felt the happenings in Hungarian Grand Prix summed up his year so far.
The Renault driver lost chunk of places in the opening lap to find himself in eighth from fifth on the grid after losing out to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
He struggled in the early part as he fell off from the tail of the drivers ahead and once he started to look good in the conditions, the team pitted him on Lap 25, which brought him behind Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
The Frenchman was going long in his first stint which severely compromised Sainz’s start of the second stint on the medium compound. He was stuck behind the Force India car for long, allowing the two McLarens to gain track position.
He was still in points but lost two places and was always under pressure from Haas’ Romain Grosjean. With Stoffel Vandoorne retiring, it helped him gain one place, while still defending from the Frenchman.
The Haas did not have the legs to make the move stick, allowing Sainz to score the two points but he lost out to Gasly, Magnussen and Fernando Alonso in the process – which he thought summed up his season, as he had the car but it doesn’t reflect on the results.
“We clearly lacked a bit of pace [especially at the start] in the hot conditions and our car being so tough on tyres, it just didn’t like these conditions,” he started. “But starting on the soft, I lacked quite a lot of grip in Turn 1 and Turn 2.
“I got pushed wide by the Red Bull and [lost out]. We could have kept quite a bit of positions. In the end, we were having a bit better pace on the soft and just when I was getting in a bit of good rhythm, we suddenly boxed.
“We were stuck in traffic [then behind Ocon]. We were overcut by the whole field [more or less], so [I am] not very happy with that. It just summarises my season up until now, [ I have] decent pace and everything, but just the results don’t come in the end.”
Even though Sainz has 30 points from the first half, he has had some races where he could have scored a more but for some troubles. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg is seventh with 52 and leads the ‘best of the rest’ pack.
The team has scored 82 points and sits fourth – 16 ahead of Haas, but team boss Cyril Abiteboul is not overly satisfied. “We can reflect on the first half of the season as being in line with our target, but we cannot satisfy ourselves just with our championship position.
“We need to accelerate in every area of the team so that we not only reach our goal this year but to make sure we carry on our progression towards our long-term plan to be competing at a higher level in subsequent years,” he said.
There are rumours for Sainz to move to McLaren in 2019 to replace Stoffel Vandoorne as Renault is unable to wait for Red Bull to take the decision on Daniel Ricciardo and Sainz as well. The French team instead, is closing on to sign Ocon to partner with Hulkenberg.