By Alan Baldwin
WOKING, England (Reuters) - Carlos Sainz wants to stay at McLaren and is talking already to the former Formula One champions about a contract extension beyond 2020.
Speaking to reporters at the launch of the team's new MCL35 car, the 25-year-old Spaniard made clear he had no desire to go elsewhere having joined from Renault at the end of 2018 on a multi-year deal.
McLaren are his third team after making a debut with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso in 2015 alongside Dutch driver Max Verstappen.
"Obviously, it's not a secret that I'm very happy here in McLaren," he said.
"There's obviously been some things going on in the background, we've started to talk already but at the same time we are going to take it easy because we are in February so there's no rush at all.
"But I am not going to hide that I'm very, very happy in McLaren and I have a lot of faith in this project."
Sainz took a breakthrough third place in Brazil last season after starting last.
It was McLaren's first podium appearance since 2014, albeit after Mercedes' six-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was demoted.
The points helped McLaren finish the year fourth overall, their highest placing since 2012 when Hamilton and 2009 champion Jenson Button were the lineup. They fell to as low as ninth during their ill-fated partnership with Honda from 2015-17.
Sainz, whose father and namesake won the Dakar Rally this year for the third time, said feeling wanted at McLaren had played a big part in his best season yet and he felt more complete as a driver.
He revealed also that he had switched his winter training routine to sports that combined intense cardio workouts with thinking under pressure.
That meant more squash and boxing, a sport he was already keen on and that he said had much in common with Formula One.
"I found the sport very demanding and very similar to Formula One in terms of having to perform under very big pressure and at the same time having to think so much while being so tired and having to remember things," Sainz said.
"I really, truly enjoy it. And squash is basically a similar thing to that. I go up to 200 (heart) beats per minute every time I box or play squash and there's not many sports I enjoy that get me to those beats per minute."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)