Sainz was resigned to starting from the back of the grid after the Scuderia changed his entire power unit ahead of the weekend, providing the Spaniard with the updated hybrid system given to team-mate Charles Leclerc in Russia.
Sainz was sent out to set competitive laps, however, and qualified through to Q2 at the expense of Ricciardo, with the result dampening McLaren's prospects for the weekend when there is a chance to extend their points difference to Ferrari.
"That was the plan, to try and bump out a car in Q1," explained Sainz. "We actually managed to bump out our direct competitor Daniel there, a McLaren."
With Leclerc struggling to make Q3, Sainz toured Istanbul Park late in the session to provide a slipstream to his team-mate, a helping hand that ultimately paid dividends as the Monégasque will start from third.
"A good Q1 and a good Q2 giving Charles a tow," added Sainz. "I hope it helped and made life a little bit easier."
On his own chances of fighting through the field, Sainz added: "Let's see. It all depends on how the car feels in traffic and how we can go through the field but the pace of the car looks good so I am disappointed not to take part in this quali.
"You see where Charles is now. Not to have two cars up there feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, with Lando eighth and Ricciardo 15th but anyway, we will give it our best shot tomorrow."
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