Carlos Sainz believes Racing Point and AlphaTauri could be the “most dangerous” teams for McLaren to beat during the 2020 Formula 1 season.

Both Racing Point and AlphaTauri enjoyed strong pre-season tests at Barcelona, with Racing Point’s Mercedes-inspired RP20 causing a particular stir among the midfield teams as Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll set some eye-catching laptimes.

McLaren is looking to build upon its fourth place finish in the 2019 constructors’ championship and Sainz has pinpointed Racing Point and AlphaTauri as the two teams that he feels could emerge as the Woking outfit’s biggest threat this year.

“Everyone is looking strong,” Sainz said when assessing the performance of the midfield pack.

“Every single team you look at, at some point in the test, they have done a very strong lap time, so it’s difficult to know who is at the front of the midfield or behind.

“The Racing Point or even AlphaTauri, I would put as the most dangerous guys to beat.

“I think we will all be in the mix, What I hope is all of us are closer to the top than we were last year. That would be my biggest wish, independent of the position.

“I wish the midfield this year could be close enough to the leaders to make sure if the leaders have an accident in lap one, that they don’t move through the field, that would be my biggest thing, to close up the gap, which at the moment is difficult to know.”

Asked if McLaren has a clear picture of where it stands compared to its rivals, Sainz replied: “No, the team doesn’t have a clear picture of how far we are from the top three, but we will see in FP1, FP2, when we are on same fuel loads more or less, we will see how it is.

“The midfield, the Racing Point have been very quick, the whole two weeks. They hit the track and they did a 73, and since then, they haven’t improved much.

“But 73 on the first day impressed all of us, and they are going to be quick, very quick. 10kg is three or four tenths quicker, you say it’s tight with Racing Point or AlphaTauri, if they are 10kg heavier or lighter, three or four tenths they are sandbagging.

“So it’s impossible to take a conclusion,” he added. “Who has the last three tenths in their pocket or who has used it, that’s why it is impossible to know.

“I think there are still differences in how teams are running in fuel loads and engine modes and we need to take that into account.

“We cannot make too many conclusions, we need to keep analysing ourselves, we’re doing a pretty good job in dissecting our performance levels in different sectors and trying things to make it better.”