Carlos Sainz Jr says having a longer contract with McLaren gave him the chance to show what he is really capable of during the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Sainz joined McLaren from Renault after just one full season, admitting the final races with the French manufacturer were "weird" ahead of his exit.
The Spaniard has a two-year contract with McLaren and 2019 is the first time he has gone into the off-season with his F1 future secured.
Sainz reckons that has allowed him to show a "new Carlos" that people had not previously seen.
"This stability has given me a chance to show a bit of a new Carlos, that maybe the paddock in general or many people hadn't seen," said Sainz.
"I knew that was inside, I just needed the right environment, I guess, and the right mindset."
Sainz, who has raced in F1 since 2015, secured sixth place in the 2019 drivers' standings with 10th place in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
He explained how having contract stability has changed the type of pressure he feels when racing. "I never had that [security]," he said.
"So even if you don't feel it, and you don't want [to think about it], there's that pressure to bring results.
"There's been a few changes that I've made from 2018 to '19, that for sure have helped, but mainly having that stability, having that extra confidence to go for moves - [such as] the move on Max [Verstappen] in Bahrain - that maybe before I would have thought twice about it."
Continuing with that specific example (above), Sainz explained that previously he would be thinking he needed "to bank in P5 or P6 that I am at the moment - it is a very good result for me - let's not attack Max so much, because he's going to beat me at the end of the race anyway".
He added: "[But I had] this kind of mentality of 'no, I'm just going to push, I'm just going to try and do the best I can', because I have finally a bit of stability and a bit of a place where I can be myself more often."
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