F1 Testing: Carlos Sainz happy with McLaren progress after setting benchmark
McLaren once again on top and Sainz posts fastest time of testing; Sainz "cautious" but says "everything has improved" since Day One
By Matt Morlidge in Barcelona
Last Updated: 01/04/19 9:28am
Carlos Sainz says he is impressed by McLaren's progress at F1 Testing after the team set an eye-catching pace to once again top the Barcelona timesheets.
Sainz posted the quickest lap of the winter on Wednesday, a 1:17.144, and McLaren have now recorded back-to-back fastest times to kick-off Test Two.
That time, on the second-softest tyres available, is within a second of Lewis Hamilton's Cirtuit de Catalunya lap record, the pole lap from last year's Spanish GP.
A "very cautious" and "very calm" Sainz was quick to play down McLaren's front-running potential, claiming: "A 1:17.1 around Barcelona is fast but I guess teams like Red Bull and Ferrari can be much faster than that."
But the Spaniard, new to the team for F1 2019, is also notably encouraged by the MCL34.
"The important stuff to come out of these days is that every time I've been out on the track the car has been progressing," he told reporters.
"Pretty much everything has been improved.
"The car balance has got better over the last few days and that is allowing us to extract a bit more from it. That means the team is working well, we are understanding the underlying balance issues and we are correcting them little by little."
He added: "But there is still a long season ahead and there are big areas of improvement where we want to keep working.
"We're still not where we want to be, and we need to keep working hard."
Sainz also hinted his blistering time, posted in the morning session, was a "good try" at a qualifying lap, an area where McLaren, and engine suppliers Renault, are looking to improve this year.
Renault have often been criticised for not delivering enough power and engine modes for Saturdays.
But, on the power unit, Sainz added: "It feels like a good step. Until anyone turns up the engines in Australia and we see the top speeds it's going to be very difficult to find out how good the step is or if the others have made a step as big as we've done.
"But my initial thought is we've made a good step, I feel it, I feel a good step on the engine and it's going in the right direction."
McLaren finished sixth in the constructors' standings last season.
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