Carlos Sainz says the fact that he wasn’t chosen to return to Red Bull for 2019 was simply a case of being out of sight and out of mind.

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After spending his first formative years in F1 with junior bull outfit Toro Rosso, Sainz migrated to Renault before the end of the 2017 season but remained contracted to the energy drink company.

With rumors of Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from Red Bull swirling as early last spring, it was believed that Sainz, a high-profile talent, would be the most likely candidate to replace the Aussie.

In the end however, Helmut Marko and Christian Horner have opted to promote Pierre Gasly to the senior squad where he will be racing alongside Max Verstappen next season.

“I am convinced that in 2016 and 2017 that if there was a gap at Red Bull then l would have got it but Ricciardo and Verstappen were fixed,” Sainz told Sky Sports.

“Then l left for Renault, and had a very good year, but inevitably l lost a bit of touch and Red Bull didn’t have as much information.

“So they went for the safe option with Gasly, which l fully back because he is a great driver and deserves the Red Bull chance.”

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The 24-year-old future McLaren driver is no longer a member of the Red Bull family, but he will always feel grateful for the company’s support and the opportunity he was awarded.

“My first year at Toro Rosso in 2015 was a good year, but in 2016 l scored three times as many points in a car that was actually a bit worse than the 2015 car,” he remembers.

“And then in the third year, 2017, I did an even better year and it gave me the passport to go to Renault.

“Just by having a second year in the same team, in the same car, with the same engine, same mechanics, it allows you to find the little tricks of the car, the differences that mean you are able to extract the final two tenths.

“It allows the whole team to come together. That’s why stability is important. It really helps you perform.”

On the subject of stability, Sainz is delighted to have instilled a bit of steadiness in his career with his two-year McLaren deal.

“The driver needs confidence and if a team gives you two years it means they really trust you and believe in you,” he admitted.

“This is my first time in F1 that I will have a two-year contract. It gives me stability and it gives me confidence.”

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