Carlos Sainz says the Renault Formula 1 car's rate of development is putting "a smile on his face" ahead of his 2018 move to the team.
The Spaniard, who has driven for Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso since his grand prix debut in 2015, will join Renault on loan from the Austrian drinks manufacturer next year.
And while Renault currently sits 10 points behind Toro Rosso in the teams' standings, Sainz says he is encouraged by the steady improvement shown by the French manufacturer in the second season since its F1 return.
"I’ve seen that a lot of time Renault has been the fourth-fastest team this year," Sainz said in an interview with GP Gazette.
"And what I’ve also seen is the development they’ve had during the season, which also creates a smile on my face, because I know how much they’ve developed and how much effort they are putting into everything.
"I follow them very closely because they also have the same power unit as us [at Toro Rosso]. I know the progress they’ve made.”
The Spaniard feels his impending move to Renault will be a major step for his career, due to the team's status as a factory outfit.
“I think when a driver becomes a manufacturer driver it’s a step in a career, and it means you are now part of a massive organisation, not only in motorsport, but a car company," he said.
"Apart from that it’s a manufacturer that wants to become world champions. They want to do it in the medium- to short-term, and they’ve trusted me to help them to do that.
"The next step is the difficult one, and that’s why in 2018 I want to help them to take the next step. If it’s to consolidate as the fourth team or be the third team, I don’t know, this we haven’t talked about yet.
"I want to help them to score as many points as possible, and together with Nico [Hulkenberg] to take them to the next level.”
Renault seat a "childhood dream"
Sainz says that landing a Renault F1 seat for 2018 is a dream come true, not least because his childhood hero Fernando Alonso made his name while driving for the Enstone team.
In October 2006, Sainz had a chance to sit in Alonso’s car in Barcelona on a day when father Carlos Sr. did some demo laps.
“That’s what makes me the most happy,” Sainz said. "First of all, because I’m stepping into a team that is a childhood dream, a team that is on its way up, motivated to go forward, a team that has been looking for me since midway of 2016.
“I became a fan of F1 because of watching Fernando win races with Renault, and to finally join this team when it’s on its way up, like it was in 2003 and 2004, is a great honour for me.
"I’m always going to be thankful to them for trusting me for so long now, for pushing for me for so long as they’ve been pushing, and we finally made it happen.”