His rapid lap on the second day of Test 2 in Barcelona may have snatched the headlines – but McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was working hard to manage expectations after setting the fastest time of 2019 pre-season testing so far in his new MCL34.
Sainz set his 1m 17.144s lap on the second-fastest C4 Pirelli compound. And even though, with the softest C5 compound set to be around 0.6s per lap faster, Sainz’s tyre-adjusted lap would have given him a theoretical time of 1m 16.544s – quicker than Charles Leclerc’s own theoretical fastest time for Ferrari last week – the Spaniard was keen to discourage anyone from betting the farm on a McLaren win in Melbourne.
“It's always nice to be first,” said Sainz, “but we’re not going to be on pole in Australia, if that’s the question. We’re not going to win in Australia at all – everyone calm down a bit, this is just testing! We’re doing some more qualifying-based runs where you can see a bit more the performance of the car so I guess we need to wait to see the others, what they can do on those sort of runs.”
So, he may not be gunning for the title in 2019 – but Sainz at least confirmed that he was happy with both his and new team McLaren’s work so far during pre-season testing.
“I feel good,” he said at the end of Wednesday’s running. “Now we need to look back on those six days, try and understand the car, what I like, what I didn't like and try and put together for the last day the best compromise on the car.
“I think we've learned a lot. I think every time I've been in the car, it’s performed a bit better and I've been a bit more comfortable. It has been faster every time I've been in the car and that is helping us to move forward.”