After starting third on the grid, Carlos Sainz fought hard to get into the lead of the F1 Sprint in Austria right from the get-go, attempting to pass not only his Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc, but also pole-sitter and eventual winner Max Verstappen.
Unable to get past the Red Bull on the first lap, Sainz slotted into second, where he continued to battle with Leclerc, before dropping back into third place.
Speaking after the event, which was shortened by one lap due to Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo coming to halt at the end of the first formation lap, Sainz explained that he backed off from Leclerc to preserve his Medium compound tyres.
But he thoroughly enjoyed the brief battle with his teammate, describing it as racing "like it should be".
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Sainz reflects on battle with Leclerc
Reflecting on his Sprint showing, Sainz said: "I had a good start with a couple of fights at the beginning, first with Max into Turn 3, then with Charles into Turn 3 again a bit later in the race.
"It was good fun, like it should be – good racing. But then I overheated the tyres a bit running behind Charles, so I had to back off to recover them and finish the race."
Sainz and Leclerc will have another opportunity to hunt down Verstappen in Sunday's main event, but the Spaniard believes they need to find a little more pace between now and then.
"I think first of all, we will need to improve the pace a little bit, because he [Verstappen] looked to be very, very strong at the beginning of the race, then little by little, it looked like we were starting to match him," added Sainz.
"Tomorrow is a longer race and we will go through different compounds. I think anything can happen. The important thing is that we are both in the fight and we will try our best to beat Max.”
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