Carlos Sainz Jnr says he is leaving behind a McLaren team which has grown in confidence as he prepares for his final race for them.2021 F1 season, Sainz said he feels “excited but also a bit emotional” to leave McLaren.
Speaking in the FIA press conference before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sainz said he will leave “a lot of good friends” behind at the team.
“It’s my last race with McLaren, last race sharing a garage with this guy here [team mate Lando Norris] and a lot of other people that I have a very good relationship with and built an incredible bond with over these last couple of years.
“So I’m excited, determined to finish on a high, excited and emotional.”
“If there’s one thing I’m taking from McLaren it’s a lot of good friends,” he added, “people that I’ve managed to enjoy going racing with more than ever. I will not name them all, they all know who they are but a lot of good friends, for sure.”
Sainz joined McLaren with Norris at the end of the 2018 season replacing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne after several difficult years for the team.
Last year Sainz delivered McLaren’s first podium for five years in the Brazilian Grand Prix. The team moved up to fourth place in the constructors championship and goes into the final race of 2020 with a chance of taking third.
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His time at the team has coincided with major organisational changes, including the appointments of Andreas Seidl as team principal and James Key as technical director.
“The team has developed, obviously has matured a lot, but the motivation and the good spirits was there since day one at the end of 2018,” Sainz reflected. “That’s the thing that I admire the most about McLaren, the fact that even after a tough season in 2018, everyone was in good spirits, everyone was motivated and that gave me immediately a very good feeling.
“The team is exactly in that same position now of good spirits, a lot of motivation but I think everyone has a lot more confidence now. These last two years have given the team a lot of confidence, knowing that the team is progressing in the right direction. From my side. I’m proud to have been a part of that. And I wish this team the best for the future because I think it’s what they deserve.”
“Obviously, I have a lot of good racing memories from the two podiums to good recovery drives, good qualifying, good moments in general. A lot of good racing moments, but also a lot of moments that you guys don’t see outside of the cameras.
“A lot of laughs, a lot of good dinners back in the hotels, in the restaurant, a lot of good, fun events with Lando [when] we managed to to make fun out of a pretty boring situation. Events sometimes can be a bit boring, but we made them a bit more fun. A lot of good moments outside the cameras [which] unfortunately you guys don’t get to see. There’s been a lot of those.”
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