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Sainz and Kvyat can be future racewinners - Franz Tost Q&A

10 Jun 2016

Competition for seats at Red Bull has perhaps never been tougher - so while Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz find themselves driving for Toro Rosso, team principal Franz Tost is adamant both have bright futures ahead. In an exclusive interview, Tost discusses rebuilding Kvyat's confidence, why Sainz can emulate Max Verstappen - and why a move back to Renault engines could be a significant boost for the team from 2017 onward...

Q: Franz, for the first time in your team's history a driver has been returned to sender – that you've got a driver back. How has that been?

Franz Tost: Ha, that's funny! But to be honest I regard Daniil Kvyat very highly. He did a great job when he was driving for us. So in one respect we've lost a super talented driver in Max (Verstappen), but we got back another driver who is able to perform for us. He will score a lot of points for us.

Q: What was Daniil's emotional state like when he returned? It must have been quite a shocking turn of events for him...

FT: Of course it was a shock for him as Red Bull Racing are one of the leading teams in the pit lane – and coming back to Toro Rosso, who are clearly a midfield team, was not easy to digest. At the beginning he was not in the best condition as you can imagine, but we had meetings together, had dinner a couple of times, and I think he has his mental strength back. In one or two races he has overcome all that, and is focused on his new job – just at his old team. Obstacles are there to overcome and he will do that. I believe that the period to bring him up again to where he was is quite short.

Q: Helmut Marko said that with Daniil's return to Toro Rosso he has the possibility to refocus again. What does that mean – and what are you supposed to do in that process?

FT: To prepare an environment around him, so he can show that he can drive a Formula One car at the limit without crashing. I am convinced that he can do that and now I think it is more in the hand of the team to provide him with a well-prepared car so that he can bring the results we expect from him – and that he expects from himself!

Q: The cockpit swap was not only significant for Max and Daniil, but also for Carlos Sainz. The dream to fight for a Red Bull seat has potential been burst for him. How do you mend that?

FT: Carlos is professional enough to know that he is capable of doing a really good job and that he has similar – if not the same - speed as Max. If he gets everything together he can be very competitive and will score for us. He is also a very high skilled driver and I have to say that Red Bull are lucky to have four highly-skilled drivers in the cockpits. I would go so far as to predict that all four are capable next year of winning races. Why do I say next year: because I think one or the other still needs to learn a bit. I am talking in particular about Daniil and Carlos – by then they will have all the experience they need...

Q: But where can they show that experience? Toro Rosso traditionally keeps drivers for two years – and then it is either a step up to Red Bull, or the exit...

FT: First of all, to change a driver there must be another driver who can take his place. And this is a decision that will be made by Red Bull at the end of the season. Secondly: it isn't written anywhere that Toro Rosso always has to follow that two year principle – that neither Carlos nor Daniil will be driving for us next season.

Q: So if you look at the crystal ball, who will be driving for you next year?

FT: It is too early to say – but I would not mind keeping what we have. But should one of the two prefer to leave there is only one other option - Pierre Gasly. All the other drivers are too young and inexperienced.

Q: With two young drivers like Carlos and Daniil, who takes care of the mental health of both?

FT: That is part of my job – or to be more precise, it is the job of this team to work with youngsters. If we as a team manage to give both Carlos and Daniil a good car, both can do a fantastic job – and this is what will get them out of any possible career dent. In the end nobody knows what is going to happen in 2017 with all the changes coming. We want to improve our performance, and that is also why we went back to the Renault engine to create more synergies with Red Bull. Then there is no need for drivers to look anywhere else because with a good car we hope to close the gap to the top teams. That's the target.

Q: You say that you want to create synergies. Has the Haas model given you any ideas?

FT: Our move has nothing to do with the Haas model. This is what Dietrich Mateschitz wanted 11 years ago when he bought Minardi. At that time he already had Red Bull Racing and he acquired Minardi - firstly because he wanted to give the young Red Bull drivers the possibility to come into F1 and get educated to be promoted to Red Bull Racing when they showed good performance, and secondly because he wanted to create synergies between the teams – and therefore Red Bull technologies was created to support both teams with drawings and parts. This is how it worked until 2009 when the regulations were changed. Now things have changed again. Of course we will design listed parts by ourselves – but for the rest we can use a lot of synergies. That was also the reason why we changed back to Renault. With the same power unit we can nearly take over the complete rear section – so there would be no need for Toro Rosso to design parts it could instead buy from Red Bull Technology.

Q: Do you estimate that these synergies will propel Toro Rosso's position in the pecking order significantly from 2017 onwards?

FT: Let's wait and see. It's a new car so we have to see how it works in general in 2017. But once we have a good basis, 2018 onwards should be much easier to really see the synergies deliver results. Personally I am sure that Toro Rosso will make a step forward in the future.

Q: Coming back to 2016: when do you expect your engine performance to drop? Upgrades are arriving now, but you will be stuck with the 2015 Ferrari power unit...

FT: I hope we will not drop back at all! We have a very competitive chassis. I expected that we would be further behind already now – but our car can compensate for that, as can our good set-up and teamwork. And the drivers. So my hope is that we will frequently finish in the top ten also in the second part of the season.

Q: So what are the goals for the summer break? And is fifth in the constructors' standings at the end of the year really feasible?

FT: P5 is feasible. From the speed of both car and drivers it is feasible! Unfortunately in the last couple of occasions the team has made some mistakes. It is simply not acceptable for me what has happened in Monaco: that one car suffers from a software mistake. That can happen at the first test, but not at the sixth race! Then the pit stop was another story where Carlos lost so much time that Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg passed him. Carlos would have been in front of them. But that is F1. Now we have to work harder to prevent these stupid mistakes. These Monaco issues are the reason why we are not holding P5 right now. We want to make Monaco forgotten here in Montreal on Sunday!