Sainz had 'good fun' in Japan after well-executed race by Renault

© XPB 

Carlos Sainz rounded off the top-ten in Suzuka on Sunday, collecting a championship point after what he described as a fun and well-executed afternoon of racing by the Renault squad.

The Spaniard had lined up 13th on the Japanese Grand Prix grid, but an extended first stint brought him all the way up to sixth before his swap for fresh tyres.

Sainz rejoined in the position where he had started but some incisive driving and well-timed overtaking put him back into the points.

"It was good fun out there today and a very positive race from the team," said the future McLaren driver.

"We made a decent start to be on the brink of the points and then we had to do some overtaking at the end.

"For us, a point here is the best we could achieve starting from P13, so that’s a very strong result for us. The team executed everything very well; the strategy, the pit-stop, it all worked.

"We knew we were up against it this weekend, so it’s great value to score and now we need to build on this in the final four races."

Despite a DNF for Nico Hulkenberg in Japan, Renault held on to its P4 position in the Constructors' standings against midfield rival Haas.

But Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul knows more speed will need to be extracted from the R.S.18 in the final races of the season for the French outfit to hold its own.

"Carlos drove strongly throughout and never relented for that final point, whilst Nico unfortunately had to retire," said Abiteboul.

"It’s clear what needs to be fixed and that’s improving our qualifying pace. We’ve seen that small differences can play a huge role in starting between seventh or fourteenth.

"We absolutely need to get on top of this and get the car back where it belongs at circuits which should be better for us."

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