Carlos Sainz Jr says it was important for him to finish the 2018 season strongly with Renault, once it was confirmed that he would be moving to McLaren next season.
The Spaniard found out over the summer that he was being replaced by Daniel Ricciardo for 2019, but wasted little time in sorting out a deal to replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
Although being out of his current outfit could have prompted Sainz to ease off, he says the situation actually helped inspire him to push harder and deliver four points finishes since the summer break.
“For me it would have been very easy after the summer just to say ‘well, let’s finish the year and think about next year’,” he told Autosport.
“But I really felt I had something left in Renault, not to prove, but I just wanted to finish the year strongly. I found a lot of motivation after the summer break, after Spa, to say ‘I want to finish the year strongly with them’.
“I have a very good relationship with the mechanics, with the engineers, and with the management here, and because of that I’ve been pushing flat out since then as an eight race sprint until the finish line, to finish well with Renault.
“And this is exactly what is happening right now.
“The car is not where it was at the beginning of the year in terms of performance, but the points are still coming, so I am proud of that.”
Having originally been on loan from Red Bull this season, the Spaniard’s hopes of staying at Renault were dented because he was not released from his contract early enough.
And with Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul making it clear that his Red Bull ties, rather than any lack of talent, meant he was not an option for 2019, Sainz says his current form is no surprise to him.
“The race in Suzuka, in Monza, in Singapore I think the performance is there,” he said.
“I am delivering both in qualifying and in the race lately.
“It was just a matter of time of getting a bit the car more to my liking, getting the setup right more often and strange things stop happening on race day. Then suddenly Carlos Sainz and Renault look a lot better than I think some at races in the beginning of the year.”
Sainz also says that he will leave Renault without any bad feelings that it went for Daniel Ricciardo rather than wait for him.
“You’ve never heard anything bad from me towards Renault or the Ricciardo signing. For me with Renault, the only regret I have is not having a bit more time with them to get together some better results, you know.
“But the situation, life was taking us to this point. I think they are still happy that I am going to McLaren with a Renault power. And I am sure we’re going to have a successful time.”