Sainz salvages a point for Renault as Hulk strategy fails
Carlos Sainz Jr picked up a point for Renault with 10th place at Suzuka, meaning Haas is still eight points behind in the battle for fourth in the constructors’championship. Renault endured an uncompetitive weekend at Suzuka, and Sainz started 13th on the grid and ran 12th early on having been passed by Daniel Ricciardo on lap two following a good start. He ran his set of softs to the end of lap 32, emerging in 13th place. He overcame Marcus Ericsson and gained another place when Charles Leclerc made a second pitstop. Sainz then picked off Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso on his 50th lap to claim the point. Gasly was struggling with grip at that stage as his Toro Rosso was unusually hard on the tyres, having run as high as sixth early on but faded late in both stints. Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg tried an alternative strategy, starting 16th and running long on medium rubber in the hope that a well-timed safety car could elevate him into points contention. It didn’t come and he retired from last place with a‘rear-end issue’ – the issue being that he was at the rear of the field.