Sainz happy with McLaren start but fears teams 'getting a lot of help'

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Carlos Sainz was thrilled after a productive first day of testing in the McLaren.

The Spaniard completed the second-highest number of laps for a single driver with 161, seven behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen, and posted the sixth-best time, a 1m17.842s.

And as the sun shone down on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, F1's only Spanish driver enjoyed his day on the track.

“I think it has been a very positive day. First day in the car and we did not have one single problem in the car so we could do 160 laps," he said.

“That’s the most ever I’ve done on the first day in a new car.

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“We completed the whole programme so the last lap. We managed to complete a race run, we managed to do a lot of pit stops towards the end of the day, a lot of starts.

“Basically what you want on the first day is to accumulate mileage and that’s exactly what we did.

“Let’s talk about performance in a month.”

While Sainz may not want to make any rash assessments of McLaren's chances of repeating their 'best of the rest' status from last year, he did admit concern that it could be threatened by rivals like Haas, AlphaTauri and now Racing Point seemingly cosying up to the top teams.

“You can see some of the smaller teams getting a lot of help from the bigger teams," said Sainz.

"So if they come here with a car that is very similar to last year’s Red Bull or to last year’s Mercedes, it is going to be very difficult for McLaren to do that step.

“So we don’t depend on what the others are doing, we depend on what we can do, and at the moment we can only focus on ourselves, keep doing the steps that we’re doing.

"Like the ’35 [MCL35] car hitting the track and doing a lot of laps and feeling the car already a step better than last year on the first day, and opening windows of development.

“That’s the only thing we can do at the moment and we cannot think about what the others are doing.”