Carlos Sainz insists he is not feeling the pressure of replacing two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
Sainz has been drafted in from Renault to take the place of the double world champion, after Alonso opted to call time on his F1 career in order to seek new challenges in other categories, including his quest to become just the second driver in history to win the ‘triple crown’ of motorsport.
The former Toro Rosso driver is tasked with leading an inexperienced and new line-up at McLaren in partnering highly-rated rookie Lando Norris, with the Woking squad looking to build on its sixth place finish from 2018 as it continues its F1 recovery bid.
Asked if he was feeling the pressure of replacing Alonso, Sainz said: “No pressure really.
“This year we’re not fighting for any world titles. It’s not the same situation as Fernando maybe back in the day, or anything like this. I’m impatient to win, but I don’t need to win now or never. I’m still 24, I can take it a bit easily.
"Maybe a big amount of pressure in the team because I want to be part of this recovery plan, I want to be part of his restructuring stuff.
“I think what Fernando did, the results he did, and I respect it a lot. But don’t feel the pressure of stepping into his shoes. Fernando is Fernando, and Carlos Sainz is Carlos Sainz.”
Sainz revealed he sought advice from Alonso at the end of last season ahead of his switch to McLaren and believes it is “important” that McLaren continues to receive guidance from his fellow countryman throughout the upcoming 2019 season.
“I spoke to him after the Abu Dhabi test, just to have a few chats about the car, what did I think about comparing it to the Renault,” Sainz added.
“And then to be honest he’s a friend of mine, so we keep in touch about going rallying sometimes, about going karting, we definitely have a good relationship about this project.
“Until I try the car it will be difficult to share any kind of thoughts. So let’s wait. I cannot wait to drive it to be honest on Monday, and have my first impression.”