Carlos Sainz says he is confident that McLaren is on the road to recovery after hitting the bottom in 2018.
"I think they are doing their homework now," Sainz told Cadena Ser radio this week. "They hit the bottom this year so they can only get better.
"They're starting from scratch and that gives me confidence," he added. "They've seen the problems and they want to stop them.
Both McLarens finished out of the points again in Suzuka on Sunday, but Sainz says that there was little to be drawn from the team's current performance.
"It's an odd thing to see Alonso nearly last, but this half of the grid is so tight that three or four tenths is a lot.
"I think McLaren this year, the car and the team, were not fighting for more this year," he suggested. "I hope they're betting on next year and that this was the learning year.
"Next season there is a change of regulations and it's an opportunity to start from scratch and reach the required level."
This year Sainz is driving for the Renault works team. He'll have the same power unit when he moves to McLaren in 2019.
"My car now is not bad and the McLaren is three or tenths worse. But the gap to the rest of the grid is a world and that makes them look even worse."
He admitted that the French manufacturer hadn't been able to keep up with its rivals in terms of engine development this season.
“We didn’t expect Ferrari and Mercedes to do such a big step through the year," he told Motorsport.com. "We need more power, which we don’t have, and we don’t get it for whatever reason."