Sainz credits Renault for helping him 'evolve'

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Carlos Sainz may have already traded in his yellow and black race suit, but he's still grateful for the time that he spent at Enstone and how it has made him a better driver.

Sainz joined Renault last year on loan from Toro Rosso as part of a complicated engine deal for 2018 between the teams, McLaren and Honda. He made his début for his new squad at the 2017 United States Grand Prix alongside Nico Hulkenberg.

By this time the 24-year-old was already a veteran of 56 Grand Prix events, but he says the change of scene was still a major boost to his skills behind the wheel.

"I only knew the Carlos of Toro Rosso, what he liked in a Toro Rosso," the Spaniard told Motorsport Week in an exclusive feature interview.

"Going to another team [was] what I needed as a driver," he continued, adding that he brought across the skills he had learned at Toro Rosso and tried to "apply them in the Renault."

"Keep the good things from Renault and try to nurse them together into the Toro Rosso ones," he elaborated. “There’s a lot of stuff going on that you can do as a driver."

The fact that Renault had made Sainz a key component in the deal made him feel welcomed and accepted at Enstone from the very start.

“As a driver it’s a privilege to see that a team really wants you to feel comfortable here and to bring the best they can to you," he said. "It’s been a whole co-ordinated process that I think we both should be proud of.

“They’ve helped me in that way, every time I was asking for something, they were writing it down and see if they could do something about it,” he said.

“We’ve evolved as a team, they’ve helped me to evolve, and I’ve helped them to evolve.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 passes the team at the end of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sainz believes that this will make him a better driver in 2019 at McLaren, where he will be the de facto team leader for the first time alongside rookie racer Lando Norris.

"The amount of learning that I’ve done this year is something that I’m really taking into McLaren," he noted.

“Moving to Renault has been a great experience for me and going to a team like McLaren with similar resources is going to help me."

Sainz is now a year older and 25 races wiser as he heads to Woking, and feels that this will make a big difference

"I’m interested in seeing how the Carlos of next year [behaves]," he mused. "Having his first two-year contract, being fully part of a team.

“I’m not saying at Renault I didn’t behave like that," he added quickly. "I’m interested to see how the Carlos of next year goes into the first race.”

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