Carlos Sainz Jr says leading McLaren’s Formula 1 recovery project provides him with “huge motivation”.

The Spaniard joined McLaren over the winter to replace the departing Fernando Alonso as McLaren bids to continue its progress up F1’s pecking order following a number of frustrating years dogged by poor performance and reliability.

McLaren has made a promising start to the 2019 season and is just four points behind engine suppliers Renault in the constructors’ championship amid a tight midfield battle.

In a new column for the official F1 website, Sainz said: “It had been a dream to join McLaren, a team that has so much history in Formula 1.

“The team has had a challenging few years but we share the same values of never giving up and fighting to be the best. It’s in our DNA and to lead this project is a huge motivation.

“We’ve had a difficult first three races of 2019, but we can take so much encouragement from our raw performance. We’re turning things around already this year, we’re right in the midfield fight and have shown consistently that we have a car that is capable of scoring points. It’s why I can’t wait to get to Baku.”

Sainz has endured a frustrating opening three races and is yet to get off the mark for McLaren after back-to-back retirements in Australia and Bahrain, before seeing his Chinese Grand Prix hampered by contact with Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat on the opening lap in Shanghai.

“The Shanghai race weekend didn’t quite work out as we hoped,” Sainz explained.

“We knew we could struggle because our car in long corners isn’t as strong as in braking and traction. Friday was encouraging but in qualifying, we missed out on Q3 by a few tenths.

“In the race, you all know what happened. I tried to avoid an accident but there was nothing I could do. Daniil Kvyat just lost his car, pushed me off and he then made contact with Lando.

“It hasn’t been a great first three races, and it’s definitely frustrating when you know you are comfortable with the car. But the pace of the car is strong and it’s just a matter of time before we start getting points.”

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