Carlos Sainz will line up for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix from third place on the grid, slotting in behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Alpine's Fernando Alonso.
With Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc out of the way for the start after their Saturday troubles, Sainz is likely to be Verstappen's main rival for the win as Alpine's race pace isn't as strong as that of Ferrari and Red Bull.
The Spaniard is chasing his first win in Formula 1, as Ferrari's F1-75 has proven to be one of the leading machines on the grid this season, but Sainz reckons victory will be decided depending on how well he gets away from the grid to clear Alonso and challenge Verstappen.
"I think it will all depend a bit on the start," he told media, including RacingNews365.com, after qualifying.
"If we can get a good start and get straight behind Max, then we can just try and follow and put some pressure.
"If you lose a bit of time in the first five to 10 laps, maybe Fernando does a good start, then the gap could be big enough that you're just a bit too far behind for the rest of the race.
"But the target is to get a clean start, a good one, and then race from there.
"Will we have the pace to fight Max? According to Friday, it should be close – then obviously we know in the race, they’re always very strong on tyre management. But I think we can still be there."
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Sainz: Verstappen's pace improved as the track dried
With qualifying seeing track conditions steadily improve throughout the three segments, Sainz said he felt his best chance of pole position would have been if the track had remained wet as Verstappen's relative pace improved as it dried.
"Obviously, I would like to be in the first row at least," he said when asked for his thoughts on the session.
"But, in general, I felt like… in the wet, I've been feeling quite good all weekend. Or FP3 and Q1.
"Then, when the track started to dry up, I felt like Max started to get a bit away from us. Especially there towards Q3, already in the first set he looked particularly competitive, and I knew that going into Q3, run two, I needed a very, very good lap if I wanted to steal pole position from him.
"I think Sector 1 was quite okay, I think I did purple, but then Sector 2, I knew I didn't just find the grip that I was expecting to find.
"And then into the last corner, I said, 'Okay, I'm probably not in pole position already. So I'm going to try and send it'.
"Sending it was probably not the right call and it cost me probably P2. But yeah, a couple of tenths we missed there, I think, for pole position – but overall, a decent feeling with the car."
Sainz aiming to emulate Ricciardo
With the last driver to win the Canadian GP from outside a front row start being Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull in 2014, Sainz said he's hopeful of being able to overcome the two drivers at the front to clinch his first win.
"I think anything can happen in Formula 1 racing," he explained.
"It doesn't really matter – the positions today, it's all about the race tomorrow.
"I think [if] we get a good start and we put pressure on the guys in front, then anything can happen. I think Max seemed very quick on Friday, he's been on it all weekend.
"We've been chasing a bit that last tenth, compared to them – but I think tomorrow, with a good start and a good strategy, we can put some pressure."
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