New McLaren F1 Team signing Carlos Sainz Jr. says that he cannot say where his new team fits into the order heading into this week’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Sainz Jr. has assumed his compatriot and idol Fernando Alonso‘s place at McLaren, after losing his seat with the Renault F1 Team to ex-Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo at the end of 2018.
The two official winter tests at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last month showed encouraging primary signs for McLaren, with Sainz Jr. and rookie team-mate Lando Norris heading the timing screens on the first two days of the second test.
Spaniard Sainz Jr. highlighted the importance of the test, saying that it allowed him to further integrate himself into the team.
“Following a productive two weeks at pre-season testing, I’m excited to truly get the 2019 season underway,” said Sainz Jr.
“Melbourne is the perfect scenario for the kick-off, I will always remember my debut in Formula 1 here [in 2015] and my first points ever in the Championship.
“Today, I’m looking forward to racing in my first grand prix weekend with McLaren.
“Pre-season testing was key to completing my integration within the team.”
The 24-year-old holds confidence in McLaren’s ability to bounce back from a difficult end to 2018 after a promising start.
Despite a run of good results at the start of the year, McLaren struggled to keep pace with the close midfield battle and slumped to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, 60 points behind fourth-placed Renault.
However Sainz Jr. remained quiet on predicting where McLaren fits into the overall championship picture, saying that Melbourne will be the first indicator of performance.
“I’m very confident in the work I’ve put together with my engineers and I feel fit and ready to get on track,” he added.
“Now it’s finally time to go racing and see where we are compared to our competitors.
“I’ve missed F1 over the break way too much.”