Carlos Sainz Jr. has warned McLaren against getting “overexcited” with its aims for the short-term future, believing the team will have to work “little by little” to return to the front of the Formula 1 field.

Sainz left Renault to join McLaren for 2019 at a time when the team is looking to aim a podium drought lasting almost five years, while its most recent victory came at the end of 2012. McLaren finished sixth in last year’s constructors’ championship.

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The Spaniard agreed on the move after being impressed by McLaren’s future plans, but is aware it will take time for the team to rise back up the pecking order.

“McLaren has a very clear plan which is hopefully in the near future is to go back to what McLaren has always been, which is a winning team. But it is a long term plan - we cannot get overexcited,” Sainz said while speaking at Autosport International last week.

“We know we need to work hard, and we know that the team last year was really far away from that. But we have sat down, we have seen together what we need to do to become bigger and stronger.”

McLaren recently boosted its F1 management team by signing former Porsche LMP1 chief Andreas Seidl, while former Toro Rosso technical chief James Key is also set to complete a move to Woking this year.

“There are lot of key people being signed. Some very important people like James Key, like Andreas - so you can see the team is doing an effort,” Sainz said.

“I got to know the engineers in the team and they are very capable. I think we have a very good plan for the next two years, and hopefully that will bring us little by little back to the top."

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