Carlos Sainz admits that he is feeling powerful heading into his maiden season with McLaren. The Spaniard will be the senior driver at the team, as he will partner Lando Norris who will make his debut in 2019.
The upcoming season will be Sainz's fifth in F1, having made his debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso. After almost three seasons with the Red Bull junior team, he joined Renault towards the end of 2017, before competing the full 2018 campaign with the Enstone squad.
Following Fernando Alonso's announcement that he would be walking away from the sport after 2018, McLaren soon moved to confirm Sainz. Despite being just 24 years of age, Sainz will be the more experienced racer at the Woking outfit, meaning his feedback will be very valuable to the team next year.
“It feels good, it feels in a way powerful,” Sainz told Autosport. “I’m going to arrive at McLaren in my fifth year in Formula 1. I’ve gone through two teams, and I still have that World Series [Formula Renault 3.5] championship fresh in my mind. So I’m going in with that confidence and a lot of knowledge.
"When you work for two different teams, with very different characteristics of car balance, of set-up, like it was at Toro Rosso and Renault, I think I’ve been at the two extremes of car balance. Because of that I’m going to McLaren with a lot of knowledge and wanting to also lead, and follow a direction with them that is hopefully a good one.”
Sainz struggled throughout the 2018 season to find a balance between good qualifying and race pace at Renault. But he says that the experience has taught him "a lot" for future experiences.
"I’ve learned a lot,” Sainz continued. “I’ve gone very different routes on set-ups to try and optimise this  car. Also this year, I’ve been caught out in races while trying to experiment to try and find something extra on the car.
“So it has been a big learning year for me in that way, because I’ve been really focused in trying to improve the car I have. I think I’ve done a lot of progress in that sense also. It’s going be a good experience for me and for McLaren in the future."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing