Back-to-back retirements may seem like a nightmare way to start a Formula 1 season, but Carlos Sainz Jr. is running high on confidence after McLaren’s competitive showings in both Australia and Bahrain.

Sainz managed just nine laps in Australia before a power unit issue forced him out of the race, and saw his hopes of a top-five finish in Bahrain end early when contact with Max Verstappen dropped him to the back of the order. McLaren parked the car with four laps to go.

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While Sainz is yet to record a classified finish this year, teammate Lando Norris was able to charge to sixth place in Bahrain as McLaren proved its strength in the close midfield fight - acting as a major confidence boost for Sainz.

“I am very encouraged about the pace of the car, about my feeling with my car,” Sainz said.

“I think you could see in those first three or four laps [in Bahrain] how easily I could keep up with the Mercedes and the Red Bull, how easily I was attempting a move on Max at the earliest opportunity.

“So there are a lot of positives to take. I still have a smile on my face because of that and I'm not going to let an accident like this one ruin my confidence, because my confidence is really high at the moment.”

Sainz and teammate Norris both managed to reach Q3 in Bahrain, marking McLaren’s best combined qualifying result since the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.

However, the Spaniard remained cautious about the chances of the team making double Q3 appearances a regular occurrence in 2019.

“We will see. We need to go to front limited circuits, because at the moment our car feels front limited, and a track like Bahrain which is rear limited played to our strengths,” Sainz said.

“We need to be careful. We need to make sure we keep changing the balance of the car, and when we get to a front limited track like China, we are on top of it, and keep being strong on different types of tracks.

“China is a completely different one to Bahrain, and we need to keep pushing."

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