McLaren CEO Zak Brown has revealed that Carlos Sainz was on the top of the McLaren list for drivers they were looking at for 2019. The Spaniard is set to join the team from Renault and will partner McLaren junior driver Lando Norris at a brand new line-up at the team.
The announcement that Sainz would be joining the team came last month and he would be filling the shoes of compatriot and idol Fernando Alonso at the British team.
"When we knew we were looking for drivers, he was right at the top of a very short list," Brown told the Formula One website.
“Carlos and I hit it off right away. He’s funny, he’s smart. He asks the right questions.
"You can tell there is an intensity to him, which I think star drivers need to have. There needs to be an edge to the intensity and he’s got that.
“So much of what we’re trying to get right here is the dynamics of the racing team."
McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran also praised Sainz's approach to racing, complimenting his intelligence and commitment to the sport.
“We did a fair amount of analysis, and he showed well against the different teammates he’s had in the past,” de Ferran said. "When the opportunity came up to sign him, we jumped at it.
"He’s intelligent and dedicated. He’s got a great deal of potential.”
Sainz may be the more experienced of the two drivers at McLaren for next year but the Spaniard says he was not expecting to be handed the number one driver role over Norris.
"I’m probably in the first half of the year maybe leading the team towards one direction or the other. But in the end, I’m a strong believer that in F1, number one and number two doesn’t exist.
“I believe the team will treat us both as number ones, because that’s exactly what the team needs at the moment - both pushing each other flat out to help the team move forward.
"It will be more than an honour for me to take a bit of a lead, but I’m sure Lando has things to say!"