Carlos Sainz Jr. says he feels no extra pressure stepping into the shoes of two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2019, when he will become the only Spanish driver on the grid.

Sainz’s desire to race in F1 was fuelled by Alonso, Spain’s first and only world champion, and the ex-Renault and Toro Rosso driver will step into his hero’s seat at McLaren next year.

Fernando Alonso - An F1 Career In Pictures

Sainz will be the only Spaniard racing in F1 through 2019 as Alonso explores pursuits outside of F1, including returns to the Indianapolis 500 and Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Asked by if he felt any extra pressure stepping into Alonso’s shoes at McLaren, Sainz said he saw only positives in doing so.

“There is no extra pressure in that way, mainly because as a driver, you never feel the crowd or the expectations of your home country as pressure. You find it positive,” Sainz said.

“For me, the fact that everyone is going to watch Formula 1 next year in Spain to see me racing is actually a great thing. It’s something that I look forward to.

“And when you jump in the car, you don’t think about it. You just want to win. I want to win one day in Formula 1, and as I want to win, everything jumps on board, but don’t apply me pressure because the first one that wants to win is myself.

“I think we’re going to miss Fernando. I wish him the best in every category that he goes to, and I’m sure wherever he goes, he will perform like he is one of the best drivers in the world.”

Sainz said he was yet to speak with Alonso about what to expect at McLaren, but would look to spend some time with this compatriot over the winter.

“I haven’t got the chance. He’s probably the busiest man on earth!” Sainz said.

“But I really hope one day I get to sit down with him, have a bit of a briefing about McLaren also, start asking him a bit of questions, and also talk a bit more as friends and see what his plans are.

“I will obviously not tell it to you guys, but I will know it for myself."