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.
Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.
“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”
Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.
The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.
Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.
Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.
Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.
Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.
Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”