Tuesday 26 February at 08:39 :
Feb.26 (GMM) Carlos Sainz says a garage fire was a minor blip in an otherwise positive start to McLaren's 2019 season.
During a filming day on Friday, a few team mechanics had to be treated for burns.
"It was very small," driver Sainz told Movistar.
"There were little burns on the arms of some mechanics but the car was damaged at all," he added. "No one was happy but it was minimal."
Apart from that, Sainz said he is happy with how McLaren's testing is going so far.
"I would say we are behind Ferrari," he laughed. "Seriously, we don't know where we are."
What he does know is that McLaren embarked on a course to correct its competitive decline that led to Fernando Alonso's decision to quit the sport.
"It was difficult but it had to be done," said Sainz. "There had to be a change of mentality, philosophy, a reset, a self-criticism.
"I don't know how long it will take us to get where we want but at least we have started."
Sainz said the 2019 car is a "new concept" with "many changes".
"It seems to have very little to do with last year in a visual and conceptual sense," he said. "We have a lot to learn from this car."
And so he says even failing to score a single point in Australia will not be regarded as a "failure or a disappointment".
"It would be a starting point," Sainz added.
He says even the Renault engine has taken "a step forward" for 2019, but Sainz admitted that the power unit is still "a little behind Ferrari and Mercedes".
Finally, Sainz was asked about the man he replaces at McLaren: his countryman and mentor Fernando Alonso.
"I've been in contact with Fernando but not about what he is going to do with the team. Zak Brown will know more about his agenda.
"But while Carlos Sainz will always miss Fernando, I hope the team will not miss him as much, because they have me," Sainz smiled.