Sainz ‘still playing catch-up’ to Hulkenberg at Renault

Carlos Sainz says that he’s still having to work hard to catch up with his Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg.

Sainz joined the team last autumn in time for the United States Grand Prix. He’s completed a total of seven races for Renault since being dispatched on a one-year loan by Toro Rosso.

Hulkenberg made his switch to Enstone at the start of the 2017 season. That gives him over half a season of extra experience behind the wheel of the Renault.

“When I arrived in the team last year, he has these little tricks, little things that make him go very, very fast in qualifying,” said Sainz. “Which I’m still discovering and adapting.

“For sure, Nico is very strong in qualifying,” Sainz continued. “I think he has always been. Probably with this car even more. He understands it very well.

“He also has a year of experience with the car,” the Spanish racer pointed out. “That is helping him.

“[He also has experience of] the race of last year to know how the car reacted to changes, to driving style, etc.

“He is a bloody fast guy,’ Sainz admitted. “On top of that he is very experienced. You can see it, all the time he is on track, he is on it.”

Consistent finishes in the top ten have put Hulkenberg into seventh place in the drivers championship on 22 points. By comparison, Sainz is in 12th place with just three points after top ten finishes in Melbourne and Shanghai.

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But Sainz isn’t downhearted by the situation. Rather, he sees it as extra-motivation to get his head down and put in even more work to get back on an equal footing with his team mate.

“I’m still in my fourth year,” he said. “Still learning a lot of stuff from the car at the same time. And I’m catching up little by little.

“It’s a 21-race year. We have done three. In one of them I have been the faster car.

“In Melbourne I was half a second clear of him in qualifying in Q2,” he said. “I think in Australia I was the faster car.

“The other two races, I was bit behind,” he acknowledged. “Bahrain I was quite slow to be honest. And we are still trying to understand it.

“[In China] I was just a couple of tenths away in quali. In the race that multiplied itself by track position.

“So I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” he insisted. “In qualifying especially, I feel we are very good.”

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