Carlos Sainz reckons McLaren will be rocket-like on the straights in F1 Azerbaijan GP, as Lando Norris is quietly confident but not raising expectations.
The two former teammates are now fighting for third place in the Constructors’ standing. The bromance between Sainz and Norris created great media moments on McLaren social channels, and on Netflix’s Drive to Survive. The pair created a strong and public friendship that continues now that the two are in two different teams.
Sainz replaced Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari and was replaced at McLaren by Daniel Ricciardo. Ferrari and McLaren have renewed their rivalry this F1 season, and the two teams are fighting to conquer the third place in the Constructors’ standing.
So far, Ferrari looked to have a chance to achieve a victory in Monaco, with Charles Leclerc scoring pole position, and Sainz finishing his race in second place. But the Spaniard tipped McLaren’s top speed as the factor that could put the Woking based team in front of the Maranello cars in this weekend’s Baku race.
“I said before going to Monaco, that it would be a good reference for me to know how confident I am in the new car, the new team and, to be honest, I was felt really, really at home since FP1, so I’ve been fast all weekend,” said Sainz. “Now, going into Baku, I think that we’re not going to be the best ones on that long straight but at the same time, if we can make the time back on the tight part then we should be OK.
“I think the one that now should be excited about Baku is my friend Lando Norris here on my left, that he has a bit of a rocket on the straight, and the car was definitely not bad last year in Monza, not bad around Monaco, so maybe I will bet for you! He put me under pressure going to Monaco, saying that I might have the chance to win,” summed up Sainz.
Norris, meanwhile, acknowledged the point from Sainz, and is quietly confident of doing well in Baku, but he is now way putting down Ferrari’s chances too. “You need some good straight-line speed, you need good confidence on the brakes with that lower downforce, but we’ll see how it is in practice in Baku, he said.
“In Barcelona, we struggled a lot and a bit of that is why we were thinking we were not going to be competitive in Monaco, because of the final sector. Although it’s not as slow speed anymore compared to what it used to be, we still struggled in those slow-speed corners, which is why we were thinking we were not going to be good here – but it changes.
“We’re still learning the car, even though it’s pretty similar to last year. There’s some changes and they’ve definitely affected the car, so we’re better in places, maybe slightly worse in places but yeah, considering we were thinking we were not going to be good in Monaco and we came out pretty good, so I don’t think it’s good to set too many expectations for Baku,” summed up Norris.
After FP3, we will have a better idea if the British driver is playing down McLaren’s chances to beat Ferrari in Azerbaijan, or if the momentum achieved by Sainz and Leclerc with their SF21 is too much for Norris, Ricciardo, and their MCL35.
Here’s Lando Norris detailing about his contract
Here’s McLaren on not having Gulf Oil livery for now
Here’s Lando Norris clarifying his wave to Daniel Ricciardo
Here’s Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc responding to Ralf Schumacher
The story was written by Lorenzo Liegi