'A good day at the office' for improved McLaren

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL34. 30.03.2019.
© XPB 

It's been a torrid few seasons recently for the once-mighty McLaren team which has been bumping along near the bottom of F1 for much too long now, leading many fans to wonder if the squad would ever succeed in turning around its fortunes.

But a strong showing in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday seemed to confirm that a McLaren renaissance might be tantalisingly close.

Both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris made it all the way through to the final round, with Sainz ultimately securing seventh place on the grid for the start of tomorrow's race after being narrowly pipped by Haas' Kevin Magnussen.

"That was a good qualie," the Spanish driver said afterwards. "I’m happy with how the session went and it’s a pity we missed out on P6 at the end.

"Nonetheless, I think we extracted everything from the car and P7 is a good starting position for the race.

"I really want to congratulate the whole team, here and back at the factory," he continued. "Getting both cars in to Q3 shows their hard work over the winter is paying off. Everyone should be proud.

"The job is not finished though," he cautioned. "I want my first points of the season, so now it’s time to focus on the race. I think from P7 we have a good chance, so let's go for it.”

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) McLaren MCL34.

His rookie team mate Lando Norris had already raised the teams spirits two weeks ago by making it through to Q3 in Melbourne. He repeated the feat again this time, but was slightly disappointed with only clinching tenth place on the grid.

"Overall I thought it was pretty good," he replied when asked how qualifying had gone. "My runs were okay in general although I made a couple of mistakes and don’t feel I did as good a job as in Australia.

"I know the track here more and it’s not as technical, but it’s easier to make smaller mistakes," he explained. "I had a little under-rotation into turn 10, not even a lock-up, but lost a little time.

"It would have been nice to be alongside Carlos and it was close. I think he was only just over a tenth ahead, so I’m reasonably happy.

"It’s obviously going to be difficult from P10. I don’t think these tyres are too bad, but the guys behind have more choice to start on so we’ll just have to see how it goes!"

The efforts of both Sainz and Norris, as well as the entire pit crew and back room staff back at WokCarlos Sainz Jr (ESP), McLaren F1 Team ing, were applauded by McLaren's sporting director Gil de Ferran.

“This classifies as a good day at the office," said the former driver. "We have brought several upgrades this weekend which have delivered that little bit extra performance that we needed and getting both cars into Q3 was a good reward.

"Obviously Carlos and Lando performed impeccably today and gave our team the best qualifying result that we have achieved for quite some time," he added. "Our engine partner Renault also deserves credit for putting us in this position."

"I want to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank our engineers and all of the team back at the factory in Woking for the tremendous effort that went behind today’s performance.

"However this is still just qualifying," he warned. "We must keep our heads down and execute a good race tomorrow. A lot of work ahead, but a good first step.”

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