The Ferrari driver starts from the front row of the grid alongside Lando Norris after enjoying a switch to slick tires during the final stages of Q3 on Saturday.
And while there is no doubt that the Mercedes and Red Bulls starting behind are clearly ahead in terms of overall race pace, the nature of the Sochi circuit could make it difficult for them to exploit their speed if they get stuck. behind other cars.
It gave Sainz some hope that if he and Norris can break free up front, maybe they can do something to last until the end.
“It’s a strange circuit this one – because obviously the race pace is important and we have to see how easy it is to overtake,” said the Spaniard. “Normally in the past it was pretty tricky.
“Obviously we have the two Mercs [Bottas has now taken a grid penalty] and Red Bull which will push us a lot.
“They are clearly here half a second to a second faster than us – so at some point they will put the pressure on us and we’ll have to see if we can stay one step ahead.
“Obviously the goal is to finish ahead of them, to try to get Lando at the start – although I start on the dirty side, he starts on the clean side at least – and see from there if we can run hard. and having fun up front. “
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, in the post-qualifying press conference
Photo by: FIA Pool
While second place on the grid has often been the best place to start the Russian Grand Prix, due to the wake advantage until turn 2, Sainz believes that a good getaway for him won’t be so easy. .
Aside from the inconvenience of starting on the dirty side of the track, Sainz is well aware that Ferrari doesn’t have the best straight-line speed compared to the McLaren and Williams cars around it.
Speaking of the chances of getting ahead of Norris after the start, Sainz said: “I think there are two options.
“Either I’m having a good getaway and it’s a straight race in turn 2, or if not, I’m obviously going to have to try to find a wake, because we know we’re not the fastest in a straight line and we have to Find towing, a little draft, otherwise it’s going to be a long descent from turn 1.
“But it’s exciting. I shared arguments with this guy [Norris] pretty much the last two years in Formula 1, so we know each other very well.
“Hopefully we can both get off to a good start and keep moving away because there will be guys behind coming up, and that’s when the fun begins.”