With team-mate Charles Leclerc starting from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty, Sainz had to fight alone for Ferrari in qualifying on Saturday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Sainz was at the front of the pack throughout qualifying but eventually finished third in Q3, seven tenths of a second behind poleman Max Verstappen after sliding out of the chicane on his final lap.
Sainz was propelled into second place by fellow countryman Fernando Alonso, who gave Alpine a shock front row start with a late charge. This is his best qualifying result since 2012.
As the track started to dry out towards the end of qualifying, Sainz felt Verstappen “started to pull away from us a bit” and wanted to take the risk towards the end of his lap in a final attempt to catch the time.
“I knew in Q3, second moto, I needed a very, very good lap if I wanted to steal pole position from him,” Sainz said. “Sector one was pretty decent, I think I did the purple, but then sector two I knew I hadn’t found the grip I expected to find.
“In the last corner I said OK, I’m probably not in pole position already, so I’ll try to send it.
“Sending it was probably the wrong call, and it probably cost me P2. But yeah, a few tenths we missed out there for pole position. But overall a decent feeling with the car .
Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 Team, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, on the grid after qualifying
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
With Leclerc fighting back from the back of the pack after his penalty, Ferrari will be looking to Sainz to try and end Red Bull’s five-game winning streak that has seen the tide turn in both championships.
The Canadian Grand Prix has not been won from outside the front row of the grid since Daniel Ricciardo won for Red Bull in 2014, but Sainz was hoping for a strong start that would see him battle Verstappen.
“If we get off to a good start and put the pressure on the guys up front then anything can happen,” Sainz said. “I think Max looked very fast on Friday, he was on it all weekend. We chased that last tenth a bit from them.
“But I think tomorrow, with a good start and a good strategy, we can put the pressure on.”