Carlos Sainz: Upgrades needed to correct McLaren balance issues

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz may have set the fastest time of testing overall by going P1 on Wednesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, but says that there are ‘underlying balance issues’ on the MCL34.

Carlos Sainz zipped around the Catalan circuit in 1:17.144 on Wednesday morning, a time set on the C4 tyre that would remain unbeaten throughout the rest of the day. This time kept him P1 for the day, but also was the fastest time of pre-season testing so far as McLaren ended their second consecutive day at the top of the timesheets.

However, Sainz still wasn’t particularly over the moon afterwards when he spoke to the media in the Barcelona paddock. He explained that, while the MCL34 has steadily improved since testing started last week, there’s still lots of work to do to get to the bottom of a balance issue both he and Lando Norris have been encountering: “There are still big areas of improvement needed, definitely. The important stuff to come out of testing is that every time I go out on track, I think the car has been progressing. The car balance has gotten better over the last few days and that’s allowing us to extract a bit more from it.”

“So we’re working well and understanding the underlying balance issues and correcting them little by little. But, still, there’s a long season ahead and plenty of areas where we need to keep working. We’re still not where we want to be. We need to keep working hard. Like, I mean, a 17.1 around Barcelona is fast but teams like Red Bull & Ferrari can go much faster than that.”

“Pretty much everything has been improved [over testing]. Like I said, [there are[ still underlying balance issues that we’re working on that we can’t get rid of until we bring an upgrade to the car, but that’s what Formula 1 is about. We try to improve and in the next races, bring upgrades to try making it better.”

Asked whether the quick time in the morning had been McLaren running a qualifying simulation, he all but confirmed it was by saying: “It’s not for me to comment on that but, if you are clever enough to see our kind of running, it was a good try.”

The pragmatic Spaniard highlighted that there wasn’t any need for doom and gloom at McLaren, saying that he felt the checklist of items that the team went into testing with was being ticked off one by one: “Every day, you could say we’d like to do a few more runs but that is what testing is for. If you don’t find the reliability issues in testing like we’ve been finding, it means that you’re not covering enough work. We are finding issues but we’re fixing them. Today, we got back out on track and did over 100 laps with a couple of issues. That’s good news, and good progress.”

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website.

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