Carlos Sainz has highlighted the complexity of changing teams, saying even the best drivers in the business “need a bit of time to find the secrets” after they have joined a new outfit.
The Spaniard is in his fifth full season in Formula 1, but while he spent his first three years at Toro Rosso, he has found himself chopping and changing the last two campaigns as he switched to McLaren for the 2019 season after only one year with Renault.
He was replaced at Renault by Daniel Ricciardo while the Australian’s move to the French manufacturer saw Pierre Gasly promoted to a Red Bull seat. Meanwhile, one of the other big off-season changes saw Charles Leclerc land a Ferrari.
Although Sainz has done a lot better than expected as he is seventh in the standings with 58 points, the 24-year-old told Autosport.com that it takes a while before you find your way at a new team.
“They are very different,” he said of the three teams he has driven for so far in his career.
“A lot more different than what people imagine. And the cars behave a lot more different than what people think.
“That’s why I think you’re seeing that every driver needs a few races to adapt to a team, to a car.
“We’ve seen it with Ricciardo this year, with Pierre, with every driver that has changed teams… Leclerc at the beginning of the year.
“You need a bit of time to find the secrets.
“And the teams work differently in every way, so it takes time and people underestimate how much performance you can extract from a package when you’ve been there more than one year.
“The performance that I was extracting from a Toro Rosso, that for me was not the midfield leader at any point, and sometimes being good with the Toro Rosso like I was in 2016, 2017, I only achieved it because of knowing my package and knowing how to exploit it.
“You see [Racing Point’s Sergio] Perez, you see [Max] Verstappen now with Red Bull, you see [Lewis] Hamilton with Mercedes.
“It’s a consequence of spending a bit of time with a team and knowing how to exploit that car to the limit.”
After McLaren’s recent struggles, Sainz’s quick adaption to life at his new team have helped the Woking-based squad to a comfortable fourth in the Constructors’ standings.
He picked up back-to-back fifth places in the final two races before the summer break, but is confident he can still take it up a notch.
“I still feel like I have a lot more room for improvement and the car has a lot of more room for improvement, myself setting the car up a bit more to my liking,” he said.
“We are still trying a lot of things every Friday just to see which direction I like and everything. But it’s a slow process.
“What I mean is a matter of years, you know? The more years you are in a team or in something, you always learn more about the car and learn more about the team, about the people, how to extract more from every individual.
“I guess it’s like any other work in the world.”