Carlos Sainz managed to score points on his debut for Renault, finishing seventh and challenging Force India driver of Esteban Ocon towards the end of the race.
The Spaniard was parachuted into Renault to replace Jolyon Palmer for the remainder of the season instead of starting next season per-contract, but it was unclear how quick he would be compared to his highly-rated teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
But Sainz was right on the pace from the first few laps of Friday practice, and ultimately translated that to battling the Force Indais in the race and pulling off a stunning overtake on Sergio Perez at turn 19.
After qualifying, Sainz said:
“There’s been a lot to adapt to over this weekend but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve; it’s not a bad effort for our first qualifying together. It wasn’t the easiest session with the changes in temperature and with the wind as I didn’t know how the car would react to this, but we did a good job so I’m very happy.
“Coming to a new team late in the season was always going to be a challenge, but everyone at the team and back in the factory has made things very easy for me. I’m looking for a clean race tomorrow. There’s more speed in the car and in me as I adapt further, so to finish in the top ten higher than where I start is the target.”
Despite making the most of the misfortune of Daniel Ricciardo and Hulkenberg having a difficult weekend with reliability, by finishing seventh is only two points shy of Jolyon Palmer’s total points for Renault for the season.