Looking to improve in “every area”, Carlos Sainz says McLaren aren’t comparing themselves to their midfield rivals but rather the cars that are “a second quicker”.
After an underwhelming first season with Renault power, McLaren arrived on the 2019 grid hoping for better.
The team, though, managed just one top-ten result in the opening three races before finally bagging their first double points-haul at Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Sainz brought his MCL34 home in seventh place while his rookie team-mate Lando Norris was P8.
It was a solid showing from the Woking but Sainz concedes there is still a great deal to do as, while McLaren may now be holding down ‘best of the rest’ in the standings, they are still a long way off the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Pretty much every area I think we still need to improve,” he told Motorsport.com.
“Because we look at Mercedes, we see where they are, we look at Ferrari, and then you look at the data and you see that every area of the car needs to be improved.
“If we compare ourselves against the midfield, then we only need to improve in little areas to come on top.
“But we are not comparing ourselves against that.
“We are comparing ourselves to a car that is a second quicker at the moment than us.
“And that’s the target, to improve in every area.”
Sainz’s seventh place on Sunday was his first top-ten result as a McLaren driver.
Blighted by reliability issues and crashes in the first three races, the Spaniard was happy to finally bag his first points of the year.
“On a personal level, this one is a bit of a relief after three races where I just had exactly the [same] pace,” he said.
“I had it [the speed] in the first three races but just for a reason that I still don’t understand, three consecutive runs of bad luck happened to us.
“We finally didn’t have any issues and we just demonstrated what we are capable of doing.”