Carlos Sainz says his wheel-to-wheel on-track battles with Fernando Alonso have enabled him to learn and improve his race-craft in Formula One.
The Spanish duo have found themselves squabbling over the same piece of tarmac on several occasions, with their most recent scrap coming at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Following an epic, race-long duel, Alonso ultimately came out on top to finish ahead of Sainz in sixth, claiming McLaren's best result of the season in the process. The pair also traded positions earlier this year in China, with Sainz taking honours on that day, while Alonso later retired.
"It's definitely a great learning situation for me for the upcoming years," Sainz explained. "It's like battling for a win, because normally Fernando should be battling for wins. We are battling for the win of the midfield with a double world champion and probably the best driver of the grid. I did learn a lot of stuff [in Hungary] -- it's my third year and you never stop learning."
Sainz enjoyed a thrilling fight with his F1 idol towards the climax of last year's U.S. Grand Prix, a week before Alonso claimed the Toro Rosso driver had compromised his race with a "strange" move on the opening lap in Mexico.
When asked if his battles with Alonso are the most intense he has experienced, Sainz replied: "I think the mentally of the people when they look at it, yes because they are both Spanish, one is the mentor and the other is the kid learning from him, they want to spice it up. But I battle with him like I battle with any other driver on the grid. Yes, he might be a bit better than others."