McLaren needs to be careful when making predictions for 2019 but will eventually return to the front of the grid, according to Carlos Sainz.
Sainz has joined a team that finished sixth in the constructors’ championship last season but underperformed compared to expectations after a switch to Renault power units. At the launch of the MCL34 on Thursday, there was a distinct lack of grand statements about the results the team is targeting, and Sainz says that is an approach the team must take at this stage of its rebuilding process.
“I think the team’s philosophy this year is going to be to take it easy with predictions, with where we want to be,” Sainz said. “I think until we see what the others are going to be doing, it’s impossible to know where we are.
“We are optimistic about the directions that we have taken with the concept of the car, the directions that we’ve taken in restructuring the whole team — not only getting new people but the good people that we have already in McLaren, to get them into areas where we can exploit their talent better.
“I think we have a great talent in McLaren; there’s always new people with great ideas. It’s going to be a matter of when, I think.
“It’s now going to be a bit of a mid-term project. I have a two-year deal to work on that and I’m confident. I like what I see, I like the way the restructuring has been, and now we’re ready to go racing and see where the car is and from there start the development and the recovery.”
Sainz will step into Fernando Alonso’s shoes as the more experienced driver at McLaren this year, but he says his own career trajectory means he has less pressure than the double world champion on his shoulders.
“(There’s) no pressure really. This year we’re not fighting for any world titles. It’s not the same situation as Fernando maybe back in the day, or anything like this. I’m impatient to win, but I don’t need to win now or never. I’m still 24 — I can take it a bit easily.
“Maybe a big amount of pressure in the team, because I want to be part of this recovery plan, I want to be part of this restructuring stuff. I think what Fernando did, the results he did, I respect it a lot. But don’t feel the pressure of stepping into his shoes. Fernando is Fernando, and Carlos Sainz is Carlos Sainz.”