Sainz secures overlooked, welcome career-best P6 at home GP

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For Carlos Sainz Jr., sixth place in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix marked a career-best in his 24th Grand Prix start in one of the two Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferraris.

The 21-year-old from Madrid had been perhaps overlooked in recent weeks within the Red Bull empire – Daniel Ricciardo had led Red Bull’s charge in the opening races, while the recent Daniil Kvyat drama and his subsequent switch with Max Verstappen between Red Bull and Toro Rosso had dominated headlines in the run up to the Spanish Grand Prix.

Then of course, Verstappen decided to go off and make F1 history as the youngest winner ever on Sunday, in his first start for Red Bull.

But Sainz, who qualified eighth, made out like a bandit on Sunday when he made it up to third at the end of the first lap behind Red Bull teammates Ricciardo and Verstappen and ahead of the Scuderia Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, following the first-lap Mercedes coming together of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

Sainz fell back slightly from there but still secured sixth place, which beat his prior best result of seventh at Circuit of the Americas last year by one spot.

“You know it was a great weekend for me,” Sainz told NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race. “We found a really good balance. Finally we did a very good race. It was just a matter of time everything would come together for me.”

Sainz hailed his start as one of the best of his career.

“The start was an amazing feeling to be in podium position on merit,” he said. “One of the best starts of my life. First laps were nice. The Ferraris, I had to let them go, otherwise it would have been compromised my race.”

However, post-race, it was revealed Sainz would be under investigation by the stewards for possible leaving of the pit lane with the red light on. But following the review, there was no further action taken.

Sainz, who along with Verstappen had had a bit of a disagreement earlier this year in Melbourne, was happy for his former teammate.

“I’m honestly very happy for him and for the Red Bull family,” he said. “It’s great they keep bringing talent into Formula 1.

“From my side, I look forward to fighting for victories down the road with him, like we were for P8s and Q3 in Toro Rosso.”

Interestingly Sainz didn’t do himself any harm against Kyvat this weekend either in the Russian’s return to the team.

Kvyat failed to make it out of Q2 and lined up 13th, and did make it into the points in 10th place.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III