McLaren ‘family atmosphere’ boosted Sainz confidence – Brown
McLaren boss Zak Brown says the papaya squad’s “family atmosphere” provided Carlos Sainz with the right environment in which the Spaniard could grow his confidence.
Sainz joined McLaren in 2019 after leaving the Red Bull family and spells at Toro Roso, where he began his career in F1 in 2015, and Renault, having been lent to the French outfit for a year.
As a young talent who had yet to fully develop, Sainz needed to strengthen his confidence, according to Brown who believes that McLaren’s approach of adapting to its driver – rather than the other way around – was exactly what Sainz required to boost his “psych”.
“I think he’s an extremely determined individual, but I remember when he had his issue in Australia in the very first race [in 2019], and I went to him after qualifying,” remembered Brown.
“I said ‘I know you were on a mega lap, you just got caught out’, I think it was Kubica’s tyre that had gone down or something.
“I immediately went in and said, ‘man, you’re awesome, we all know what happened there’. He said to me at that time ‘I really appreciate that, no-one actually usually comes in and tells me that’.
“He was an extremely determined individual, but I think athletes, you need to understand their psyche and what makes them work.
“We’re all different, so I think you have to adapt to each individual. How you work with Lando [Norris] is different to how you work with Carlos, which is how you are different to how you work with Fernando Alonso.
“And I think some teams, not all teams, say ‘here is how we work, you adapt to us’, and that works for some. But I think at McLaren, it’s a family atmosphere we’ve created, and so we adapt to each other.”
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Sainz scored his first podium finish with McLaren at the 2019 Brazilian GP but scored more points in this year’s campaign than last season despite a reduced number of races. And the Spaniard also came close to winning the Italian GP at Monza, crossing the checkered flag P2 just behind race winner Pierre Gasly.
At the time of his signing with McLaren, Sainz’s two-year contract was a departure from the single season deals that had linked him to his previous teams. Brown reckons the improved security also contributed to the 26-year-old’s assurance.
“I think we’ve helped raise Carlos’s confidence that he had there,” said Brown.
“But I think when you drive on a series of one-year agreements, you kind of feel like your next race might be your last race, and that’s certainly not a good way to get any employee motivated, if you’re kind of living under this constant, unreasonable pressure.
“I think that worked really well for us, and we both maximised each other’s results.”
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