Sao Paulo: Carlos Sainz's patience and determination was repaid in more ways than one on Sunday when his first podium finish was confirmed by the race stewards, more than two hours after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The highly-rated young Spaniard came home fourth on the road for McLaren in Sunday's tumultuous race, but was promoted to third when six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was penalised -- and then made to wait while his own race was investigated.
Finally, the stewards said he and McLaren had not contravened any regulations in the use of Drag Reduction System (DRS) under yellow flags during the race -- to the delight of the team's long-suffering fans and Sainz's many admirers and supporters.
The result secured McLaren their first podium since both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were classified in the top three at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, ironically the first race in the current V6 turbo hybrid era.
"Good things come to those who wait... 2,072 days, 118 races, one group of loyal fans," McLaren said on Twitter.
Good things come to those who wait... ⏳— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 17, 2019
1 group of loyal fans
We might have missed out on the podium but... WE’RE BACK IN THE TOP 3! #FansLikeNoOther #FearlesslyForward pic.twitter.com/zXrrMVK2mF
The result secured fourth place in the constructors' championship for McLaren, their best finish since 2012.
It was an extraordinary effort by Sainz who had failed to set a time in qualifying and started from last place on the grid, the team choosing to take a new engine.
He went for a one-stop strategy which worked out in a race of two safety car interventions and many accidents.
"A podium!" said Sainz on Twitter. "A bit weird not being there after the race, but still extremely happy.
"Today's race was just unbelievable -- the one-stop strategy was difficult, but it paid off."
From P20 to P3!!
I have never expected my first @F1 podium to be like this. I am extremely happy! Thank you to the whole @McLarenF1 team & everyone involved!!@EG00 #carlossainz #Smoothoperator pic.twitter.com/WOvF82VLHM
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) November 17, 2019
Rivals Renault commented on Twitter: "Huge, huge congratulations to McLaren and Carlos Sainz. Both extremely dear to our hearts and both hugely deserving."
His compatriot and former McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso said: "Fantastic! Well done team."