McLaren’s technical head Key is in a unique position in that he has had the opportunity to work with Sainz both now in the British team and at the very beginning of the Spaniard’s F1 career at Toro Rosso (Alpha Tauri from 2020 onward).
This gives room for Key to compare and measure Sainz's growth. And, when doing just that, the British engineer said that Sainz has become more confident, aggressive, and generally mature since he was at the Red Bull junior team.
“I’m seeing a Carlos who is just as quick, and good to work with, but one who knows his job far better having done it now for so long,” said Key when asked by FormulaRapida.net. “I think what’s really benefited him is this is the third team he’s experienced.
“You kind of learn different aspects of how to approach this stuff, if you’ve done the rounds sort of, and he’s done that now, so I’m seeing a guy who has really matured and settled into being an F1 driver. He was super keen as a rookie.
“He was up against Max Verstappen, it was a great pairing to have. He’s refined his racecraft, he is a lot more self-confident, he is much more aggressive than he was ’cause he’s got that confidence in him to of it, and he’s just come out as a very competent driver.
“But he’s still the same guy he was all those years ago as well.” Having raced for Toro Rosso for multiple seasons, Sainz moved to Renault mid-way in 2017 and did a full year in 2018, before signing with McLaren for 2019 and now has 2020 to look forward too.
Looking at his numbers, Sainz certainly has achieved much success, particularly considering the car he drove. At McLaren, he is the unofficial leader with rookie Lando Norris at his side. In fact, Key spoke well for both the drivers for their feedback.
When asked by FormulaRapida.net regarding the pair’s behind the scenes success, Key took the chance to commend the fantastic their work in F1 2019, which propelled the team to fourth in the constructor’s championship, with a podium to their name as well.
“I don’t think we can underestimate their impact on the year as well for the team,” said Key. “They’ve been in really good form every race, they are very relaxed and comfortable at where they are, they get on very well, which is great which is an important aspect.
“It’s been a very harmonious situation with both the drivers within this year. Carlos is coming of age, he has been very consistent and we haven’t seen much of this on TV but what he did in Brazil and Austria, etc, really has been really outstanding for me.
“At the same time, Lando doesn’t feel like a rookie at all. I think they have been a big part of success and the feedback has been very accurate. It has definitely contributed in helping in pin down where we need to be and some of our weaknesses.
“In every race weekend, there is some issue or another, but both of them have been able to is, do their job and filter us the messages regarding the fundamental issues and more often the data backs it very well too.”
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida, and edited by Darshan Chokhani]