Silverstone, July 2: Carlos Sainz expressed his surprise after he secured the first pole position of his Formula One career for Sunday's British Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver pipped championship leader Max Verstappen and team-mate Charles Leclerc to first on the grid, putting him at the front for what will be the 150th start of his career.
A wet session at Silverstone left everything to play for heading into the final minute of qualifying, but none were able to better Sainz's time of 1:40.983, finishing less than a hundredth of a second ahead of Red Bull's Verstappen.
While it was enough to secure a landmark result for the Spaniard, he did not believe his lap would be top of the pile.
"It was a good lap, I was struggling a lot with the standing water with the intermediates. It was very easy to get snaps and lose the lap, also very easy to lose the tyres," he said.
"In the end, I put in a lap that I thought was nothing special, I just put it on the board and see how it is and it was pole position, which cannot be a bad surprise."
Sainz will now be seeking the maiden win of his career and, having shown improvements in Canada with a second-placed finish behind Verstappen, believes he has the potential to do exactly that.
"The base has been there all weekend. We had some issues that we think we have corrected. If I base myself on my FP2 pace, I think we will be in a good position. I'm sure Max and Charles will put on a lot of pressure but I will try my best of course."
Verstappen had consistently set the fastest laps in qualifying, but with the weather playing a part, he ultimately could not do enough to get the job done.
Nevertheless, he feels he is in a good position as he looks for a third consecutive win.
"It was quite a tricky qualifying with the rain, you have to be on the track at the right time, but overall the car was working really well. In Q3, it's a bit of a lottery sometimes when you have to put in the best lap," he said.
"To be on the front row, it's very good for us and we have a good race car I think both in the dry and in the wet."
Leclerc, on the back of some difficult race weekends, starts on the second row after spinning on his final flying lap – though he still believes he is in a position to mount a challenge.
"I spun on the last lap, I knew it was the lap where I had to put everything together, but I didn't as the driver, so I didn't deserve to be on pole," he said.
"It's a good position to start in for tomorrow's race and hopefully we can put everything together and come back.
"I think the pace is there, if we have a clean race and everything goes well, a good start and tyre management, the strategy will be a bit mixed between one or two stops so it will be interesting to see. Hopefully we make the right choice and come back to where we want to be."
1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:40.983 2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.072 3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.315 4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.633 5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +1.012 6. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.101 7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.133 8. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.178 9. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) +1.736 10. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) +22.112