Carlos Sainz Jnr, McLaren, Albert Park, 2019

McLaren are “back in the mix”, says Sainz

2019 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says his team mate’s top 10 qualifying effort at the Australian Grand Prix shows what the team is capable of when it gets everything right with its new car.

Lando Norris reached Q3 in Melbourne but Sainz was eliminated after suffering a power unit problem and being held up by Robert Kubica during Q1. However Sainz said he is encouraged the team has made progress following its poor end to last season.

“I think the team ended last year far from the midfield, like three or four tenths I would say. And it looks like we’ve put ourselves back in the mix after the winter which shows an incredible job that the factory and the team has done over winter testing.

“After Barcelona [testing] we were not so sure that Q3 was possible but I think [Australia] has proved since the first laps in Q1. For me particularly in Q1 I felt maybe we had a chance, maybe it’s happening, maybe we can get McLaren back to Q3. I think it’s since Monaco last year that it didn’t happen. So it just shows the progress that the team is doing.”

However Sainz acknowledged that the midfield fight is so close McLaren must perfect its preparations to stand a chance of reaching the top 10 in qualifying.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to be in Q3 in Bahrain and China. But it means that we have put ourselves back in the mix and it’s now a matter of nailing laps, nailing procedures, nailing the set-up for each track because the midfield is as tight as always.”

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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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “McLaren are “back in the mix”, says Sainz”

  1. Sainz is correct! Will be very close battle but McLaren is better than last year. Unacceptable Renault engine failure in the first race after another fantastic first lap from Carlos! Big push now in Bahrein!!!

  2. Yes, it feels that ‘now they can fight’. But they still have to prove that it is not the proverbial ‘one bird’.

    And furthermore it would only be step one of their long distance race.
    McLaren should not be content mixing with the midfield; they should be fighting for wins and titles.

    1. @coldly I came here to make the “Now they can fight” remark. But in a far more sarcastic manner. I’m glad you beat me to it.

    2. georgeboole (@)
      25th March 2019, 8:38

      Same here. Maybe Sainz has been hanging out with Alonso too much.
      Wish I m wrong

  3. Sainz is correct! McLaren is better than last year. Unacceptable engine failure from Renault after another fantastic first lap from Carlos. Time to push in Bahrein!!

  4. Carlos Sainz Jnr says his team mate’s top 10 qualifying effort at the Australian Grand Prix shows what the team is capable of when it gets everything right with its new car.

    So a top 10 qualifying is possible when the team ‘gets everything right with its new car’? How is that an improvement over what Alonso achieved last year?

    1. I imagine he means both regularly and that both cars would now expect to be there…

      It is not a huge jump in performance but it if that happens it would be a solid improvement that can be built on. The car actually looks quite good. It looks stable and it looks quite quick. Last years car was badly broken…

      1. I agree, it was an easy shot by me.

  5. When where you not in the midfield mix? Just because McLaren only had a one driver that was capable of doing so, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t been there more often.

    At least they have on thing in common with the ones that are upfront. They are the Mercedes of the midfield, very poor in their own assessment.

  6. Happy to see McLaren making some improvements.

    DR forced Carlos to McLaren. If that didn’t happen I think Alonso would still be there today. IMO he would never partner Carlos out of fear for damaging his countryman’s reputation. Carlos is good however I think Alonso would do the business against him.

  7. Although McLaren has improved, so have the others (except Williams).
    The fact is Renault, though no fault of their own, will not be able to provide an engine in the future that is competitive with Merc and Red and now Honda.
    Renault have far less resources. For instance, Renault employs 700 for their F1 program while Merc has 1200 and Red and Honda are certainly close to them.
    I believe Johannsen is correct when he says independent teams are merely clowns in the circus. Actually, so are the B teams.
    I expect Renault will withdraw from F1 in 3 years. Zak Brown mentioned McLaren will quit if things don’t change soon.
    Gene Haas said the same thing 2 years ago and Ferrari heard loud and clear which is why Haas is in better shape now.
    Since no parties are willing to shovel out hundreds of millions to manufacture F1 engines it looks like the field will get smaller in the future.
    If Renault and McLaren do choose to walk and who can blame them, no one will notice.
    But nonetheless, it will not be good for F1.

  8. The death of F1 is near. There are 4 engine manufacturers in order of speed…
    Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda, Renault. Unless the engines will be simplified non gimmick non turbo non hybrid no engine builder is going to come in…

  9. If go back to last year, Mclaren, well Alonso started pretty well, the results were good. Then they just sort of decided to not develop the car anymore. I think Stoff was quoted saying in Mexico or COTA that the car was essentially the same as from Spain…”what a yoke”?

    I would bet a Mclaren resurgence just yet. The midfield is ultra competitive, and the like of Sauber, Racing Point and Torro Rosso, are better TEAMs compared to Mclaren. This is a team that is just coming out of what can only described as utter disarray. They’re still in transition, the new hires will need to time to disseminate their philosophy.

    1. I don’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading somewhere that McLaren’s big upgrade package for Spain actually was causing them problems rather than improving their pace, and that they spent most of the season trying to make it work. Hence the sudden nosedive in performance and Eric Boullier’s “resignation” midseason.

      It’s pretty ironic that Alonso said that Australia would be their worst race last year…

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