Carlos Sainz admits that driving for McLaren has offered stability in his Formula 1 career for the first time.
A former member of the Red Bull driver programme, the Spaniard signed a two-year deal with McLaren to create an all-new driver line-up for 2019 alongside Lando Norris.
The pair have gone from strength-to-strength, taking the team to P4 in the Constructors’ Championship and have already been confirmed for 2020.
Sainz’s career before McLaren had been reliant on Red Bull’s rolling one-year contracts, and he admits the security and stability he has now found helps his performances.
“What I can tell you is working with a team you know you’re going to spend more than a year with, definitely the team’s approach towards you – knowing that you’re going to be driving that car next year – developing the car, asking things to develop as a driver, 1-1 with the car, it’s definitely a difference,” he told Motorsport Week.
“You can see on a medium- or long-term deal how the whole team and driver works a bit more together.
“I think you’ve seen it this year with a few drivers that it does take a bit of time to adapt to a new car nowadays in Formula 1, or to extract the last two tenths of a car.
“Sometimes in a new team it’s not always easy to find the limit of a car and exploit it consistently.
“Having that extra year gives me that extra calmness and confidence to know I’m going to spend a few years here and the engineers are going to also respond to it.”
While he also feels under pressure at McLaren, he insists it is a different and healthier pressure than that experienced at Red Bull.
“Under the Red Bull programme you always feel pressure, in the same way in McLaren you feel pressure to deliver because it’s McLaren,” he said.
“At Red Bull I was on a contract that renewed every year. I think sometimes it is underestimated how much it’s a boost for a driver to know you’re going to be there for a couple of years so you can settle in, find your way with a car, with a team.
“I think there’s always examples out there to look at. I think it’s the best way to perform as an athlete is with a bit of stability.”