James Key sat down with the media earlier today in Abu Dhabi to recount his journey throughout the 2019 season, in which he joined McLaren as technical director in March. The Briton praised both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris' contribution to the development on the MCL34.
McLaren started a long-term restructuring process at the end of 2018, undertaking a different approach and having new people joining the team, starting from an-all new line-up including a rookie. The idea of embracing a fresh start was entirely reflected by the new faces representing the outfit, which first appeared as a gamble.
However, the young pairing of Sainz and Norris turned out to be a winning choice as for results, internal relationships and harmony. Key hailed the precious feedback both drivers have provided the technical department with throughout the season.
"I don’t think we can underestimate their impact on the year as well for the team. They’ve been in really good form every race, they get on very well, which is great. It’s been a very harmonious situation with the drivers within this year."
"Carlos has been very consistent and we haven’t seen much of this on TV and it’s been really outstanding for me and Lando doesn’t feel like a rookie at all. The feeedback has been very accurate."
Key stressed that Sainz's growth as a professional driver was shaped by his experience in three different teams. Having worked with him back in Toro Rosso, the British engineer was able to draw a comparison between the Sainz who was battling it out with a rambunctious Verstappen and the smooth operator we are currently witnessing.
“I’m seeing a guy who has really matured and settled into being an F1 driver, he was super keen as a rookie, he was up against Max Verstappen, it was a great pairing to have. He’s refined his racecraft, he is a lot more self-confident, much more aggressive than he was”.
The reason why new generations of drivers appear to be more competent and “technically aware” is certainly the advanced technologies youngsters grow up with.
“I think the new generations have so many more tools at their disposal to practice. It’s a generation that has been growing up at the simulator, so they’re better equipped, teams are better equipped to advise teams well”.