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Sainz: It's nice to be first - but don’t expect a McLaren pole in Australia!

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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.

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“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.”

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