McLaren recovery gathering speed at the Bahrain GP
Sainz qualifies seventh with Norris 10th; Race underway at 4.10pm on Sunday, exclusively live on Sky Sports F1
By Pete Gill and James Galloway in Bahrain
Last Updated: 31/03/19 4:08pm
McLaren are not back yet but their recovery appears to be gathering speed with both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris reaching the top 10 in qualifying for the Bahrain GP.
The former world champions' top-10 double represented their best result in qualifying since Malaysia 2017.
"It's definitely good news," said Sainz. "We should be very proud."
"If you see where the team were in Abu Dhabi [at the end of last season], how far away we were and today we were together with Haas, the leaders of the midfield, it's a very good step forward and a sign of progress."
When's the Bahrain GP on Sky F1?
Sunday's race underway at 4.10pm, Qualifying at 3pm - exclusively live on Sky Sports
The Spaniard will line up seventh, two positions ahead of Norris - with the British rookie qualifying in the top 10 for both of his first two races in F1.
Sainz continued: "It was a really good qualifying. The hard work is paying off - 'good job' to all the factory. Congratulations to everyone at Woking."
But it is not just the final placings which will encourage the team with the relatively slender margin to the pole-sitting Ferrari of Charles Leclerc also highlighting the depth of McLaren's 2019 renaissance.
"Beating one Red Bull and nearly beating another, and being within a second of Ferrari is a good step from last year," said Sainz.
For the second successive race, McLaren also outqualified engine suppliers Renault - this time with both cars. "It definitely feels good," said Sainz, who drove for Renault last year. "Especially because we knew compared to last year how strong Renault were as a midfield team and in qualifying trim."
In a revealing insight, Sainz also indicated that McLaren's recovery was founded on a strategic decision to effectively write off the second half of 2018.
"We deserve to be here after a tough winter," he added. "McLaren sacrificed the end of last season to try to understand the problems of last year. We started late with our car so it was a very difficult winter. And we can build from here."
Norris qualified in tenth but was subsequently bumped to ninth due to a three-place penalty against Haas' Romain Grosjean for blocking the McLaren driver during Q1.
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Sky Sports F1's Bahrain GP schedule
Sunday, March 31
12.10pm: Formula 2 Race Two LIVE!
2pm: The F1 Show Repeat (Simulcast on Sky One)
2.30pm: Bahrain GP Pit Lane LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
3.30pm: Bahrain GP On The Grid LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
4.10pm: THE BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
6pm: Bahrain GP Paddock LIVE! (Simulcast on Sky One)
7pm: Bahrain GP Race Replay (Simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
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