Even though McLaren are quickly establishing themselves as the fourth-best team in Formula 1 with their performances in 2019, Carlos Sainz doesn’t think they can break away from the midfield pack to join the elite trio of Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull.
Sainz and team-mate Lando Norris have struck up quite the partnership this season and have regularly made it into the top six in races. It presents a major step forward for the team, who disappointed last year under Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Despite the clear progression, the Spaniard doubts they can break into the top three in the championship this season.
“I don’t think we are going to be able to break out of the midfield in the second half of the season,” he told Motorsport.com.
“We might bring a few tenths to the car which will be great, but everyone else is going to bring them, so we need to be careful.
“What we need to make sure is that we learn the right steps to do on the car this year and learn them for next year. That is the main target for the second half of this season: learn about this car to make sure that we put all the things in the right place for next year’s car.”
Sainz is taking from heart from the fact that, at certain points during the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend, McLaren were outpacing Ferrari, however.
“I was told on the radio that on the last five laps [of the first stint] we were faster than the Ferraris, so everybody was getting pumped up,” he added.
“We are starting to see some progress on the car with the tyre management, so that last part of that first stint has given us hopes and ambition to know that we can keep closing on the top guys.”