Carlos Sainz Jr denies his Formula 1 partnership with Max Verstappen was causing problems within Toro Rosso, but admits the team has been refreshed by Red Bull’s driver swap.
Sainz and Verstappen entered F1 as rookies together with Toro Rosso last year, and their second season as teammates started with an unhappy Verstappen on the radio during the Australian Grand Prix. Verstappen has joined Red Bull from this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, with Daniil Kvyat moving the other way, returning to Toro Rosso to partner Sainz.
“The personal relationship Max and I have is not a big issue,” Sainz said. “We have always maintained the respect we have had on track. It’s more of a matter of a team perspective, of how the team is working. That’s why Franz Tost and Helmut Marko come to take the decision. From Max and myself, there was always respect, always good vibes.
“We were fighting a lot on track. We were always close to each other, some battles going on. They stay on the track. Out there, it was a matter of engineering – not being a comfortable team – which is why they decided to take these decisions internally. It’s not my job to change engineers or drivers. I just fully trust what Red Bull and Toro Rosso have decided to do and it is what is best for the team, best for the personnel.
“You can see already some refreshment in their faces. I’m convinced it will just go on better.”
Kvyat and Sainz were teammates in Formula BMW in 2010, their first seasons in car racing, then again in ’11 in Formula Renault 2.0 and in GP3 in ’13, when the Russian won that title.
While Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo appear to form Red Bull’s F1 lineup for the short-to-medium term, Sainz said he still hoped further opportunities were ahead with the company.
“I don’t get to evaluate the performance by each driver, that is done by my bosses,” Sainz said. “I appreciate what Red Bull is doing, to put young talent into F1 teams. As soon as you do good job, they show you confidence and give you the chance. Now it’s my chance to fight more than ever for that. I have 17 races to get the maximum out of myself, to fight for my chances as much as I can.
“I’m sure if I show the same speed with better results, my chance can come.”