Sainz exceeds all expectations on Renault F1 debut, finishes P7

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Carlos Sainz Jr. said his charge to P7 in his first Formula 1 outing for Renault “exceeded all expectations” as he enjoyed a near-perfect weekend at the United States Grand Prix.

Sainz joined Renault in Austin four races earlier than planned after the team was able to reach an agreement to part company with Jolyon Palmer following the last race in Japan.

Sainz charged to seventh place on the grid in qualifying, inflicting teammate Nico Hulkenberg’s first Saturday loss of the season, and was able to retain position through the race, highlighted by a stunning pass on Sergio Perez.

Despite a late battle with Esteban Ocon for sixth, Sainz was forced to settle for P7 at the checkered flag, but was nevertheless delighted with his first outing for Renault.

“It felt great, to see how everything felt, to build up on it, I had more and more confidence, passing one of the Force Indias in Turn 19, then had Ocon,” Sainz told NBCSN after the race.

“We were running out of fuel at the end so I had to hold back and save it.

“Everything exceeded my expectations. I had confidence in myself that I could adapt to the team quickly.

“To do such a good quali and such a good race, complete race, as my engineers said, I really need to thank them all.”

Sainz’s points haul saw Renault move above Haas to seventh in the constructors’ championship, with the team now just five points shy of Toro Rosso in P6 with three races remaining this season.

Dakar Rally video highlights from the concluding Stage 14

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET and Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

The 40th Dakar Rally is now history.

Nearly 550 competitors began the early 5,600-mile long race 15 days ago and concluded Saturday.

As we’ve done throughout the Rally, here are some key video highlights from NBCSN’s coverage of the Rally: