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Will McLaren find a new leader in Carlos Sainz?

Carlos Sainz is going to undertake a prominent role at McLaren, as Fernando Alonso literally passed him the baton within the Woking-based outfit. Are the odds against him or did the Renault term actually stand for a solid test bench to his skills?

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Will McLaren find a new leader in Carlos Sainz?
Fuente imagen: McLaren

Will McLaren find a new leader in Carlos Sainz in the years to come? That is a bit of a rash assumption, considering the new foundation and the tools McLaren is yet to build and sharpen, but the Spaniard is set to undertake a lead role from 2019 onwards next to rookie driver Lando Norris and it is going to be his first ever experience as a number-one driver.

The Madrid-born racer has gone down a rather turbulent path in his F1 career so far, ultimately with the odd football-style loan prompted by Milton Keynes. The move implied conveying his full commitment to a different project, while his future was clouded with uncertainty and subject to his performance. The amount of pressure he had to endure was insanely high: not only was he aware of his 'underdog status' within the team, but also he was required to try and beat Nico Hulkenberg on equal machinery, despite the German's advantage of being settled at Renault. It was definitely a long shot, but Sainz was able to grow and become more and more consistent as the season progressed.

The Spaniard regards the 2018 season as a useful and instrumental term to learn and gain more experience, which has been key to make him supposedly McLaren-ready. Having spent four F1 seasons between Milton Keynes, Faenza and Enstone, Sainz feels prepared to be tasked with a prominent role at McLaren, embracing the chance of a fresh start and with a completely different identity and role inside an F1 outfit. Furthermore, he might be feeling confident at Woking owing to his closeness with Fernando Alonso, who is still going to be involved in the project and did not hide his desire to jump in an F1 car again in the near future, as Sainz knows he could rely on his mentor and good friend's guidance at any time. McLaren has undoubtedly created a comfortable and safe environment for its 'unexperienced leader-to-be', which is potentially good, considering his background in F1.

This will be his opportunity to express himself and employ the knowledge he has acquired in the sport so far, as he has spent the last year developing the car and experimenting with set-ups, upgrades and driving technicques, constantly exiting his comfort zone and honing his skills.
Therefore, it is safe to say that the Spaniard has stepped it up, despite his unsolved qualifying headaches at Renault and he definitely possesses the tools to bring his A-game at McLaren, in order for both parties to mutually benefit from it.

Not to mention that his closeness to Renault as a manufacturer could help McLaren enormously, as the partnership between the French manufacturer and the British team is still green and young although very close and synergic.

With McLaren falling towards the back due to its poor performance and the need to reset and relaunch its future campaigns with a different attitude and ethic, the team leader role could suit Sainz well here, as the whole context in which he will operate will not feature as much pressure as his previous teams used to. Hence, he will be able to perform without rushing, grow wiser and more mature.

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