Nico Hulkenberg is "convinced" he was giving his all despite regularly holding a substantial speed advantage over Jolyon Palmer last year at Renault.
Arriving as the new lead driver at the beginning of 2017, it would be a role he did excellently scoring strong qualifying performances, often a second or more faster than his British teammate, but would struggle to maintain those positions in the race.
At the time, that was put down to weaknesses with the car both aerodynamically and in the engine department and Hulkenberg was adamant he couldn't have done much more with a more competitive driver across the garage.
"It would be unprofessional if I would have had some slack at the beginning of the season because I was just safe," he told Autosport.
"I don't think if I take the first half of the season and any of my qualifying laps that I would have found significantly more time if I would have had another teammate closer to me. I just don't believe it, I am convinced it is not like that."
Ultimately, Palmer's lack of results saw him replaced after the Japanese Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz making the switch from Toro Rosso on loan from the Red Bull stable as part of the engine deal which saw McLaren swap Honda for Renault from 2018.
Immediately, the Spaniard impressed, finishing sixth in Austin, and Hulkenberg is sure the pair will continue to drive the Enstone outfit forward this season.
"He [Sainz] is pushing and I am still pushing, we are pushing each other to the benefit of the team," he said.
"He is giving good feedback to the team as well. Two guys, instead of one, pushing everything forward is really important for a team."
The 23-year-old is also keen to continue testing himself against a driver with the reputation of Hulkenberg.
"I want to be up against a guy that has seven or eight years in F1 that's really settled nicely into a team like Nico has over the last year," Carlos commented.
"There is only things to learn and things to look out for so I'm going to just get into the atmosphere. Already on the simulation, we have a lot of similarities and that's going to help going forward."
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