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Carlos Sainz Q&A: Toro Rosso have underperformed in 2016

28 Apr 2016

Before the season started Red Bull team boss Christian Horner predicted that Toro Rosso, having switched from Renault to Ferrari power, might have an early advantage over their sister squad, but after three races the Italian team have mustered 30 fewer points than their bigger budget rivals. In an exclusive interview, Carlos Sainz explains why the squad has failed to convert promise into points – and why he hopes the trend will change this weekend in Sochi…

Q: Carlos, the Toro Rosso package - despite not using the latest-spec Ferrari power unit - seems really competitive, though you might say you’ve not got the maximum out of it yet. Can you talk us through your first three races?

Carlos Sainz: If I recap the first three races I clearly can say we could have done more. But that is easy talk. In my opinion our pace was good in Australia - the car was very competitive. It must have been the good vibes our car has with that track! Not having been able to capitalise on that pace was very much down to us not being able to understand the tyre management, as we had very little running over the winter in such conditions.

In Bahrain we had super pace as well – not so much in qualifying, but in the race – but I could not make anything of it, as I got touched by [Sergio] Perez. And China was a bit in between: not very good and not very bad. So it is up to us this weekend to turn the tide. What is on our mind is points, and points and some more points!

Q: At the moment you have four points whilst Max Verstappen has 13. Team mate rivalry is often based on different egos clashing. How would you analyse that situation at Toro Rosso?

CS: Egos in Formula One is a constant. But believe me: that doesn’t only go for drivers. Engineers, mechanics - you name it - they all play the ego card. Without a good ego you are not competitive. Yes, there is always a bit of clash - why not? Onlookers like to watch it. But we can handle it. We have learned that over many years.

Q: So no fights in the driver quarters?

CS: Ha, no, I don’t have any punch marks in the face - no black eyes. Not yet! (laughs)

Q: You have been nurtured to be a racing driver from a very young age. What was the biggest hurdle on the way into F1?

CS: Well, to make it to here was a long road through many categories and beating many good drivers. I have always been a rookie, as I have never repeated one category. That meant I always had to adapt quickly and that is sometimes not easy - especially if all around you expect you to win. And the Red Bull young driver philosophy is winning from the beginning!

That was sometimes very tough. But thanks to [Red Bull motorsport consultant] Helmut Marko I got a thorough education in that. That helped me a lot when arriving in F1.

Q: Your team principal Franz Tost said of his relationship to his drivers, 'Whoever has the best relationship with the accelerator is my friend'. Based on that, how would you describe that ‘friendship’?

CS: I think we have an experienced and successful ‘friendship’!

Q: Last year you had a DNF here in Sochi. Will luck be on your side this time?

CS: I always said that there is only one result from last year that I would be dying to change - the Sochi 2015 result. In the race I was running in P5 before I had a brake failure. It was probably the best race of my career before the brakes called it quits. This weekend I want compensation for that missed result.