McLaren’s Zak Brown has heaped praise on his driver Carlos Sainz while criticising the Spaniard’s former team Red Bull for their treatment of young drivers.

Speaking last week at the Autosport International motor show, CEO Brown said the 25-year-old had been “outstanding” since joining his team at the start of the 2019 season, but hinted things would be different were he still under the infamous stewardship of Helmut Marko, as “he’d been living under one-year contracts in the whole Red Bull-Toro Rosso environment.”

Still maintaining Red Bull are a “fantastic team,” Brown suggested their approach does not work with every talent that comes through their doors.

“They can be a bit rough on their drivers” Brown said, “and I think Carlos is a driver that needs to know he’s got a team behind him and the next race might not be his last race, which is a little bit of the environment that is created over there sometimes.”

Turning his attention to his other driver, Lando Norris, Brown was similarly complimentary.

“I think there was some risk with it, Lando being the youngest British driver. He’s had such a stellar career every step of the way. It really clinched it for us when he did his Free Practice 1s — he was extremely impressive. Also when he did the 24 Hours of Daytona with Fernando [Alonso] as his team mate we were able to see how that went and he didn’t leave anything behind. There was debate as to actually who was quicker!

“He stepped up to the plate. The one for me when I went ‘Yep, he’s ready’, was when he did his first Free Practice 1 in Formula 1 [at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix]. He was as relaxed as when I’d seen him on the grid of a Formula Renault race.

“He wasn’t kind of having this moment of ‘I’m in Fernando Alonso’s car, here I am’. I think the first session maybe had even been wet and, you know, he was cool. And he had the speed right away.”

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