Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2020

McLaren gained confidence in past two years, says Sainz before farewell race

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says he is leaving behind a McLaren team which has grown in confidence as he prepares for his final race for them.

Ahead of his move to Ferrari for the 2021 F1 season, Sainz said he feels “excited but also a bit emotional” to leave McLaren.

Speaking in the FIA press conference before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sainz said he will leave “a lot of good friends” behind at the team.

“It’s my last race with McLaren, last race sharing a garage with this guy here [team mate Lando Norris] and a lot of other people that I have a very good relationship with and built an incredible bond with over these last couple of years.

“So I’m excited, determined to finish on a high, excited and emotional.”

Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Interlagos, 2019
Sainz put McLaren back on the podium last year
“If there’s one thing I’m taking from McLaren it’s a lot of good friends,” he added, “people that I’ve managed to enjoy going racing with more than ever. I will not name them all, they all know who they are but a lot of good friends, for sure.”

Sainz joined McLaren with Norris at the end of the 2018 season replacing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne after several difficult years for the team.

Last year Sainz delivered McLaren’s first podium for five years in the Brazilian Grand Prix. The team moved up to fourth place in the constructors championship and goes into the final race of 2020 with a chance of taking third.

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He chased winner Gasly home at Monza
His time at the team has coincided with major organisational changes, including the appointments of Andreas Seidl as team principal and James Key as technical director.

“The team has developed, obviously has matured a lot, but the motivation and the good spirits was there since day one at the end of 2018,” Sainz reflected. “That’s the thing that I admire the most about McLaren, the fact that even after a tough season in 2018, everyone was in good spirits, everyone was motivated and that gave me immediately a very good feeling.

“The team is exactly in that same position now of good spirits, a lot of motivation but I think everyone has a lot more confidence now. These last two years have given the team a lot of confidence, knowing that the team is progressing in the right direction. From my side. I’m proud to have been a part of that. And I wish this team the best for the future because I think it’s what they deserve.”

Sainz said he will also remember having “a lot of laughs” with Norris and their McLaren colleagues during his time at the team.

“Obviously, I have a lot of good racing memories from the two podiums to good recovery drives, good qualifying, good moments in general. A lot of good racing moments, but also a lot of moments that you guys don’t see outside of the cameras.

“A lot of laughs, a lot of good dinners back in the hotels, in the restaurant, a lot of good, fun events with Lando [when] we managed to to make fun out of a pretty boring situation. Events sometimes can be a bit boring, but we made them a bit more fun. A lot of good moments outside the cameras [which] unfortunately you guys don’t get to see. There’s been a lot of those.”

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2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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4 comments on “McLaren gained confidence in past two years, says Sainz before farewell race”

  1. I am a McLaren fan since 1997 and gotta say this team evolved like no other. From the clinical, no-fun Dennis team to the lovely, friendly environment of the Brown team. I love both aspects but these last years they built a team with a capital T.

  2. McLaren will win championships again because they have a much better team now. This transition from Dennis to Brown is a million times better.

  3. As a McLaren fan its sad to see such a fine gentleman like Carlos leave, and its great that he is leaving in such a friendly manner. All the best for him, an opportunity to drive for Ferrari is not one to be missed (regardless of the team’s current performance). Carlos is still relatively young, maybe one day he ll be back !

    I m sure Danny Ric will continue to build on the good that Carlos is leaving behind.

  4. Great to hear about the new atmosphere in the team. Maybe this is Brown’s real talent.

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