Carlos Sainz is now feeling much better after slow start to his 2020 F1 campaign as he puts Renault ahead in the fight for third place.

At the start of the 2020 F1 season, luck was not on the side of Sainz. To name a few misfortunes that struck the Spaniard, he suffered a tyre failure in Britain before a mechanical issue thwarted his efforts to start the Belgian GP just two races later.

After some relief came for the McLaren F1 driver with a second place in Italy, he became a victim of a restart rumpus at the Tuscan GP, and suffered another retirement in the next race at Sochi. A far cry from the leaders of the mid-field pack – at least in the points standings – Sainz, though, has managed to find success in the past three races, beginning with the Eifel GP in October.

In this race, he would finish fifth, and in the one succeeding it, sixth. A seventh place at the most recent F1 Emilia Romagna GP continued a streak of good form – or at least, competitive results for the Spaniard, which gives him confidence.

“I have had a tough year,” said Sainz to TV media. “It has been a tough first half of the year where everything was going the other way. I was driving well but I had a lot of problems. But recently, the last few races, it has been much better with less problems and I am driving better too.

“I got some consecutive points finishes which I needed but just a shame about qualifying as it proved difficult to overtake,” said Sainz, who sits eighth with 65 points in a tight battle in drivers’ standing. It is similar in constructors’ side too, where McLaren is tied at 134 after Imola, with Renault only one point ahead in third.

It is a fight that Sainz feels is led by Renault, whose qualifying pace is strong enough to ensure them competitiveness in the race, he argues. The 26-year-old notes that Racing Point are also highly competitive, though less consistently so.

“It is an interesting battle and at the moment, it looks like Renault is the strongest car in qualifying and they look like they good put together good few laps and then in the race, they have the track position advantage,” said Sainz. “The Racing Point is a bit up and down, depending on the track with us.

“The upgrades, of course, we will try to improve little by little but it is not something that will change world. We will keep pushing, the smallest details will make the difference and embrace the battle with them, at least it is good fun,” said Sainz. The teams’ upgrades thus far have provided mixed reactions thus far with not a huge gain in terms of pace.

Here’s Carlos Sainz on near miss in Imola, Lando Norris switching off teammate’s car

Here’s Eric Boullier on McLaren, Honda, Fernando Alonso