Why Carlos Sainz’ P6 in Interlagos should Unsettle McLaren

Nobody was expecting Toro Rosso to score any more points this season given their drop in performance as the season has unfolded, but Carlos Sainz defied the odds and managed to bring 8 more points to the team’s tally. McLaren sit 6th in the Constructors, 12-points ahead. 

The ever impressive Spanish driver spent a majority of the race in 4th before being caught by Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel as he opted to stay out on the full-wets and take his chances. The strategy by Toro Rosso was very successful and whilst the conditions did shake up the order a bit, McLaren can no longer head to Abu Dhabi with the mid-set that their position in the Constructors is safe.

Last year at Abu Dhabi, Toro Rosso and McLaren both failed to score points, but this year won’t necessarily yield the same poor showing from both teams. This season, there have only been four occasions in which there hasn’t been a McLaren or a Toro Rosso in the points despite both teams having below-expectation season’s in 6th and 7th.

After the Brazilian Grand Prix, Sainz reminded us that the form book is sometimes fit for nothing more than recycling. He said,

“I’m super happy! To finish P6 after qualifying P15 yesterday is just amazing.

I thought it was too risky to put the intermediates on and I asked the team to leave me out on extremes, and it worked! Today was all about a good strategy with no pit-stops for me and a strong pace with no mistakes.

We can also be very proud as a team, as we were matching the pace of the top runners in the wet, which means that our car is actually a very good one and that we’ve done an excellent job all weekend – I’d like to congratulate everyone for this!

To bring back home another 8 points when we were not expecting many more is great news, I’m over the moon – I have to say that this second half of the season is full of surprises for us and I definitely welcome them!”

– Carlos Sainz

One more surprise from Carlos Sainz or Daniil Kvyat could seriously embarrass McLaren-Honda. If the team were to be beaten by a smaller budgeted outfit running last year’s Ferrari power-unit, Honda would deserve a bit of stick. 12-points isn’t an impossible gap. If McLaren have another race without points, a P6 and a P7 from Toro Rosso is enough. A P5 and a P8 would do it, as would a P4 and a P10. Some races have unfolded with unexpected points finishes this season, Sainz’ 6th in Brazil being one of them. There is no reason why the Italian team shouldn’t go into the finale of 2016 with the objective of catching McLaren. The game is by no means over.