From several standout performances to furore over his future and a very public clash with his team mate, Carlos Sainz has been in the thick of the action this year. And through it all, his star has continued to rise. As we reach F1's traditional summer break, we sat down with the 22-year-old Spaniard for an exclusive version of how 2017 has played out so far...
Q: Carlos, you've prompted a few headlines this season after some public comments on your situation at Toro Rosso - Helmut Marko even replied, and that is always dangerous. Has that been a calculated risk from your side?
Carlos Sainz: Ha, was it calculated risk from my side! I have my opinion and I said it in that very moment. Maybe I could have used a different wording to put it. It is not something that I enjoyed, seeing Helmut Marko and Christian Horner going against me, but it sometimes happens in a Formula One career. But it should be over – so turn the page!
Q: Is it over?
CS: Well, I think so.
Q: You must have a plan B – or more than a plan B: you must have your own plan A. Can you share that with us?
CS: Yes, I do have a plan A. To arrive at a race and do the best job possible. That is always my plan A.
Q: Everybody who observed your Helmut Marko situation thought: gee, he must have guts - or a smart idea of where else to go…
CS: Well, I can understand that point, yes. But from my side there is nothing else than sheer ambition. And sometimes in the heat of ambition you say things. But that is me! I do have targets and objectives.
Q: You are the one bringing the points to the team. Do you think it is time to get a real reward – one that translates into a competitive cockpit?
CS: Well, it is my one and only target to be a Red Bull driver in the future. That is what I want – and that is what I have said a hundred times before. And if one answer said in the heat of the moment is spinning out of control – that is just 'modern times'!
Q: Fans love team mate rivalries – and right now you and Daniil Kvyat give a good show. But the team very likely sees it differently - what is the state of affairs there behind closed doors?
CS: The team is doing its job by telling the two of us that they are not happy about it - and trying to make sure that it does not happen again. It is a situation that can happen once in a lifetime. It happened in Silverstone – and I hope that was my 'one time'.
Q: How do you look back on Silverstone then? Being out on lap one after contact with your team mate is not exactly a highlight...
CS: It started already with issues in qualifying so I wanted to put everything into the race. So retiring on lap one from something out of your control is sure not how you want to end a race weekend!
Q: How much of a relationship killer was that moment for you and Dany?
CS: In that very moment it sure was a 'killer'. But time smooths things - the classic saying that time is a great healer (laughs). After one or two weeks you are able to turn the page and stop thinking about it... at least it should work that way! We are both mature enough to be able to turn the page. We know each other very well and for many years – we had similar situations in lower categories. We move on to new shores!
Q: Finally, one of the biggest topics in the Budapest paddock was the halo. Can you give your view of the issue?
CS: I am sure every driver has his own opinion. Mine is: I don't like that halo - but I think it is necessary! We have to get used to it – or the FIA together with the teams have to keep developing to make it look better. I have tried it last year in Spa and had no problems with the view but it was an issue for me of how comfortable it is to get in and out of the car. I reported that to the FIA to see if they could do something about it. The FIA has asked all drivers about their experience and opinion and I think all of us handed in a small report.