Renault’s Carlos Sainz may not be setting targets for the season just yet, but he will be ready to grab a surprise result should the forecasted rain arrive for this Sunday’s Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.
Sainz finished Friday’s two practice sessions at Albert Park in ninth and 11th place respectively, his teammate Nico Hülkenberg 13th in both, but the Spaniard is still guarded on the team’s ultimate pace.
"I don't have any objectives. I want to see how the car goes first of all. And then more or less we'll know what Renault can do," he said.
Sunday’s weather forecast, though, is unlikely to make F1’s true pecking order any clearer, with the likelihood of showers increasing throughout the race – up to 70 per cent chance during the evening.
And Sainz knows well how rain can mix things up – having secured fourth place, his best-ever result in F1, at last year’s 10th edition of the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Spaniard, then with Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso, making the most of the fan-favourite event’s first-ever wet start.
“When I saw the rain starting to fall during the [Singapore] national anthem I said to myself ‘extra focus, today many things can happen’,” he said.
“Singapore is a very special event and one of the trickiest and most demanding tracks of the year. If you add the rain factor you get one of the most spectacular races of the calendar without a doubt!
“I kept my head down and my concentration levels at my maximum during the whole race. When I finally saw the chequered flag, I was so excited I wanted to open the radio to congratulate my whole team.”
The race was also famous for its multi-million dollar startline crash involving both the Ferraris, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso – later voted the season’s most dramatic moment. And Sainz was glad that he avoided the carnage.
“The track is already one of the most demanding of the whole calendar. The rain made things even more interesting!” Sainz said.
“The slightest mistake in Singapore puts you into the wall on dry conditions; so having to drive on a wet track really put all drivers to the test. I really enjoyed myself that Sunday.”
Sainz, though, is ready for this Sunday’s race in Melbourne whatever happens –come rain, hail, shine or startline crash.
"We've done our homework over pre-season testing and we are ready for the fight,” he said.
“The team has performed well over the winter and we have done our homework and are confident we can have a very solid race. It's just a matter of knowing where we are going to be."