Carlos Sainz believes a new-found “comfortable environment” at McLaren helped him turn in the best season of his Formula 1 career in 2019.

The Spaniard finished ‘best of the rest’ behind only drivers from the top three teams as he claimed sixth spot in the championship, marking his best-ever season in F1.

Sainz said 2019 had “definitely” been the strongest of his career and reckons he has finally been able to extract the best out of himself at McLaren, highlighted by some brilliant performances including picking up a maiden podium in Brazil.

“I think you can see that I’m in a much more comfortable environment right now, more comfortable atmosphere,” Sainz explained.

“The certainty of a nice future with McLaren gave me that extra tranquillity just to show my skills a bit better without that extra having to do everything at the moment, thinking more about the mid-term.

“That has helped me to put together some nice races, some nice overtaking moves that before we maybe didn’t see from myself, and that last bit of confidence that I unlocked this year has definitely given me the opportunity.”

Asked what more development he feels there is to find from himself, Sainz replied: “A lot. I think still every area can be improved, but this year I’ve done a very big step, and I’m willing to build from here.

“This year was a big step for me, and I just want to continue that way. I’m finding little things to become a stronger driver.”

Sainz’s final points tally of 96 helped McLaren comfortably beat chief midfield rival and engine suppliers Renault to fourth spot in the constructors’ standings.