Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris drove “like future world champions” throughout the 2019 Formula 1 season, according to McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

The pair formed a revised driver line-up for the Woking squad following the departures of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne and helped McLaren clinch fourth spot in the championship.

Sainz enjoyed his strongest season yet as claimed a sixth-place finish in the drivers’ standings, having contributed 96 points towards McLaren’s total and sealed the team’s first podium in five years in Brazil.

Rookie Norris had an equally impressive year in his maiden F1 campaign and narrowly missed out on a top-10 finish in the championship. The Briton managed 49 points and out-qualified Sainz 11-10 throughout 2019.

“We had a lot of changes coming into 2019,” Brown explained.

“First and foremost, two brand new drivers, neither of whom have a world championship on their CV. They’ve just done an outstanding job. They’ve driven like future world champions.

“Carlos has come in, fifth year in the sport, and has really performed. He’s fast; he’s great to work with; he’s a strong racer.

“And then Lando, the youngest-ever British driver - he’s shown tremendous maturity,” he added.

“We knew he was fast but he’s raced like a mature, experienced, Formula 1 driver. And then, of course, when you put the two of them together, they’re quite magic in the garage and on the track.

“They feel all the great support from the fans. We’re looking forward to racing with them for many more years.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl echoed Brown’s praise, adding that the duo were “fundamental” to the team’s impressive progress in 2019.

“It is obvious for everyone inside and outside of the team to see that they work together very well,” Seidl said. “They approach the challenge with a great spirit and openness between each other.

"They both understand that this is absolutely required in order to push the team forward to become better and to give them a quicker car in the future.

“As soon as they are in the car it is tough competition, but at the same time it is clear that it is not about the fight between them, it is the bigger picture that counts.

“The drivers are the heroes of this sport and everyone looks up to them, even inside the team. If the drivers show how much they want to be part of the team and how they believe in the team, then the team will give their all for them every day.

“Carlos and Lando’s performance this year for the team inside and outside of the car is one of the fundamental reasons why we could make the step we did this year.”

 

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