Carlos Sainz Jr shines as top rookie in Bahrain qualifying

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Carlos Sainz Jr. continued his impressive start to life in Formula 1 by qualifying inside the top ten for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.

The Toro Rosso driver produced a scintillating final lap at the end of Q2 to earn himself a place into the third and final part of qualifying, before eventually placing ninth in Q3.

Sainz admitted after the session that the result was something of a surprise, but he was delighted with the turnaround that the team performed following practice on Saturday.

“I feel very happy,” Sainz said. “Probably it was the less expected Q3 of the year, I even thought this was going to be the toughest and most difficult to achieve after what we had seen in FP3.

“But we did a mega turnaround and we went for it. Everything worked out and I’m very satisfied with the result.

“For tomorrow’s race, our race pace should be the same or even better than our qualifying pace, so it gives me quite a good feeling for tomorrow.”

Max Verstappen’s session in the second Toro Rosso was less fruitful though, as he struggled with the setup of the car to prop up the running order in Q2. He will start tomorrow’s race from 15th place on the grid.

“It wasn’t the best qualifying,” Verstappen said. “I suffered from a bit too much understeer on the car and that’s never great for a qualifying lap on new tires, but hopefully this will help to save the rear tires more in the race tomorrow.

“We’ll do our best to do a good start and make the most of the fact that we have one more set of soft tires available.”

The Bahrain Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET on Sunday.