McLaren should be proud of the strong start it made to pre-season testing for the 2019 Formula 1 season, according to Carlos Sainz.
On the opening day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Sainz set the second-fastest time some 0.397s slower than Sebastian Vettel. Although the Spaniard used a softer tire compound to post the time, it came on a day when he also managed 119 laps and Sainz says the pace and reliability — despite having not completed a shakedown — is an encouraging sign.
“Definitely a good day,” Sainz said. “I think everyone in the team has to be proud and has to be happy. The hard work over the winter, the plan we put together to have the car ready nice and early for the presentation to be out on track at 9 a.m. and, as the morning was going by, not having any issue with the car at all to complete almost 120 laps, is definitely a good place to start the year.
“The factory, the 600 or 700 people back at Woking that I’ve been together with this winter, I am sure they will be happy to see today that the car has been running reliably.”
While Sainz was keen to highlight the role of those back at the factory, he says he also enjoyed the atmosphere within the garage after the week got off to a smooth start.
“It is positive. You could see some smiling faces, especially this morning when we left and started to put laps and laps on without any issue or long car stops. And this afternoon we completed some long runs and we finished the day under red flags at six o’clock, so it was a good way to start.
“People are happy here at the track but we must not forget all the people in Woking who are the main ones who put together this car.”
Praising the reliability from power unit partner Renault, Sainz says McLaren’s ability to produce a car fighting at the front should not be overlooked, but says it has a big task ahead to get to that level.
“I realized the quality there is in McLaren since the day I arrived. That has never been in question. Even before arriving I had a lot of trust in this team. We cannot forget this is the last team to win a race which isn’t Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. It was McLaren in 2012 when they had the fastest car.
“In six years you cannot forget how to do fast cars. We are still very far away from where we want to be but I like when I see the car, the attention to detail — even in the steering, how the seat is done. There are professional people, tidy people, a clean atmosphere and I definitely like that. In terms of performance, we are still not where we want to be so there is still a long way to go.”