After a top five finish in the most recent race, Renault’s Carlos Sainz is hoping that his home field advantage will propel him even higher in Barcelona.

“It’s the most special Grand Prix of the year for me,” Sainz said. “It feels so different to any other race.

“I’ve raced in three Spanish Grands Prix so far. Each of them have been very special and I’ve managed to get some good results here.

“I think that shows all the support I receive works,” he added. “It’s like having an extra boost. With all the fans giving support, we become very strong!

“I hope I’m able to keep it this way this season and continue the good trend of results at my home race.

“It’s a track I know very well since I was young,” he added, although he quickly conceded that most Formula 1 drivers were equally familiar with the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

“We get to do the tests here, both in winter and after the race, so every Formula 1 driver is very familiar with the track layout,” he acknowledged.

Sainz certainly finds himself much in demand at his home event.

“It’s a busier weekend than normal, but I enjoy that, and I realise I’m very fortunate,” he said. “Wherever I go throughout the weekend, there’s always people cheering. It’s a real privilege to experience.”

There’s even a grandstand with his name on it at the circuit. Literally!

  • Hard work still ahead for Renault despite good result – Sainz

“It’s awesome to have my own grandstand,” he smiled. “We started back in 2016 and ever since, fans have been so grateful and supportive so it’s totally worth it.

“We have nearly 4,000 fans this year, near turn five, and it’s going to be very special to drive past them on every lap. I can’t wait for it again this year and hopefully I can put on a show for them.”

Arguably, Sainz is even more in the spotlight than ever this year. Viewed as Daniel Ricciardo’s heir apparent if the Australian decides to leave Red Bull, Sainz strengthened his case with fifth place in Baku – his best finish since being placed on loan at Renault by Toro Rosso.

“It is a really strong result for the team and myself, which we had to battle for,” he said.

“Now it’s time to look forward and put all of our efforts into backing it up with another positive result in Spain.”

Sainz conceded that the Spanish race presents a very different challenge from the one in Baku.

“It’s three quite different sectors, each with some fast and flowing corners. The tarmac is new this year all around the track and this makes it even more interesting.

“We need good traction throughout [the last section] as it’s very tight with no room for mistake. It’s about hogging the inside kerbs as much as possible to find the shortest route.

“Finally, we have to negotiate the chicane, where we want to maximise the kerbs, before accelerating flat-out from the corner to finish the lap.”

For Sainz, it represents a chance to take another important step forward to becoming regular podium contenders.

“I’m working really hard with the team to extract the maximum of the Renault R.S.18,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll get there step by step.”

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