Carlos Sainz Jr. says that whilst he’s driven the new Renault R.S. 18, he hasn’t “really started testing the car“, and that there is still “big margins of improvement” ahead of the team.
Last week was the first time teams and drivers were able to run their 2018 season cars, with testing running Monday to Friday, though Wednesday testing became a write off after snow storms.
Though he was still able to complete 151 laps last week – the equivalent of almost two and a half races at the track – Sainz says he still doesn’t feel fully comfortable in the car.
“I haven’t tested yet. I have run but I haven’t really started testing the car, setting it up for my liking, going in one direction, the other.
“I haven’t felt fully at home yet in the car but that’s why I think we have still very big potential ahead of us.
“If we start doing things properly and we start testing and we start going in the right direction, I have still big margins of improvement to be more comfortable in the car.”
“To get the medium to work is a positive sign, there’s not many teams out there who are really running the medium, and today we managed to switch on the medium and do a good long run on it.
“Balance-wise, still not there, still we have huge margins of improvement, so I’m going to be patient, wait for next week.”
Sainz Jr. says that his focus on testing has come from his father, Carlos Sainz Sr. – himself a multiple championship-winning rally driver – and that races are won and lost before the season has started.
“The last four races last year helped to get to know everyone and to give my feedback regarding last year’s car.
“And now I just need testing, because racing is not the same as testing. Actually, my father always told me that where you win the races is in testing.
“And I hadn’t had the chance yet to really test the car, follow different directions.
“Normally Melbourne has been a good race for me. I think [it’s] because I’ve come up from the last day of testing with a good baseline on the car that gives me confidence and I managed to attack the streets of Melbourne how I like.
“It’s not an easy track to go there for the first time in a year, you need really big confidence with the car.”
The second, and final, week of testing began today, this second bout of testing lasting just four days. Asked whether this was enough time to get the car into a place he was happy with for Melbourne, Sainz said it was – so long as there were no issues.
“I think I have time, personally. I don’t know the others, but I think if we have a clean week, I have time to do some maybe shorter runs and go through more tyres and just go in different directions.
“I think I have time, but then we will need a clean week.”
Sainz finished in eighth place in today’s testing with a fastest time of 1:21.455 on the Soft tyres, some 1.1 seconds behind fastest Hamilton, who set a 1:20.396 on the medium tyres.