Sainz's day rescued by virtual safety car after MGU-K failure

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An MGU-K failure almost wreaked havoc on Carlos Sainz's well-deserved points finish in Sunday's French Grand Prix, but a late and salutary virtual safety car came to the Spaniard's rescue.

The Renault driver luckily side-stepped the opening lap chaos to find himself in third position behind leader Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, although he logically conceded a few spots thereafter to his faster top-team rivals.

A steady race looked to deliver to Sainz a sixth-place finish, but with a handful of laps to go he reported a sudden loss of power that relegated him to P8.

Fortunately, a virtual safety car triggered by Lance Stroll's Williams brought everyone down to minimum speed, enabling Sainz to secure his position to the checkered flag, but only just.

"It hurts a little bit to end the race like that," he admitted.

"We were having such a good weekend from start to finish. We had a strong qualifying, made a clean start running in the top three early on, and then controlling sixth.

"The second-half of the race was fast-paced and we were managing it well until the sudden problem, which cost us two or three seconds a lap.

"It’s a shame and I feel sorry for the whole team, as I think we deserved to be best of the rest today.

"These things happen in racing, and it’s my first reliability issue of the year, so let’s move on and start preparing Austria."

Renault immediately traced Sainz's issue to an MGU-K failure that cost the Spaniard an estimated 160 bhp in the closing stages of the race!

Fortunately, the component was on its last race and destined to be replaced for next weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.

Relieved by the lucky turn of events, Sainz also admitted his early laps hot on the heels of the leaders was enjoyable for the short time it lasted.

"It happened last time in Barcelona 2016 that I got a really good start and got into the podium places," he said.

"It was a while since I was last in those places. I enjoyed it. It didn't last very long, but I tried my best."

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