Despite an excellent run to secure a P2 and front row for the 2021 Russian GP, his best qualifying in F1, Carlos Sainz wasn’t entirely happy with his Q3 run, and hopes he can take the lead on the first lap. The Spaniard went to provisional pole in the final minutes of qualifying, before being pipped by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who set his time later in the session, when the track was offering more grip.
"I was so close to pole position that maybe the second place doesn’t taste as good as it should, but I think it was well executed, a good lap, unfortunately, I was one of the first to cross the line on the slicks so you are left wondering if you did it a bit later how much quicker you would have gone, but it was a good lap, on the limit, good battles with these guys out there, got to enjoy it in these tricky conditions you enjoy more in a Formula 1 car.”
Looking ahead to race day, his main focus is a clean getaway from the dirtier, right side of the grid.
"Hopefully I can get Lando [Norris] at the start or, if not, just get a good tow. Starting P2 here on the dirty side is really penalising so I’m going to make sure we do our homework overnight to make sure we don’t lose too much off the line on the dirty side, and then see if I can get into a tow. Or why not pass him into Turn 1?"
The secondary concern for the Ferrari man is the Mercedes and Red Bull threat from behind, and he keeps his foot on the ground about his chances:
"Obviously there’s the two Mercs and the Red Bull of [Sergio] Perez that are going to be much quicker tomorrow, and we expect them to go through but we will put on a fight and try and have some fun.
"It’s a strange circuit this one, race pace is important and we need to see how easy it is to overtake.
“Normally in the past, it has been quite tricky, we have the two Mercedes and the Red Bull that are going to be pushing us a lot."
The Spaniard will be looking to rectify a poor record at the Sochi Autodrom, in which he only scored 9 points out of his six visits to the circuit.