On Saturday, Carlos Sainz Jr became the tenth Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion after his only remaining rival to the title Roberto Merhi crashed out at the first corner.
The Red Bull Racing-backed Spaniard admitted his delight at taking the title after taking a series best seven wins in the season, but woke up on Saturday morning believing it was his time.
“This weekend I woke up on Saturday morning knowing that it just had to be my day,” described Sainz Jr. “It was the 24th anniversary of my fathers first World Rally Championship and that was just a perfect match because he has been such an important part of my success, that made it very special.”
He looks back fondly at his season, and he picks out some memorable moments he achieved during the year, and was delighted on how he and his team picked themselves up after moments of obscurity.
“For sure there are many great things to remember from this season,” said Sainz Jr. “It has been an absolutely incredible year. If you push me to pick out two highlights I would have to think back to the first weekend in Monza when we bounced back to win Race 2 after failing at the start in Race 1.
“Then we bounced back from a tough weekend at the Hungaroring to score two wins at Paul Ricard. I think that a few people were starting to think we had lost the edge but the two races in France showed again what we could do and set the record number of victories for the season so that was something to remember.”
Sainz thanked his DAMS team for giving him the car to take the wins and the championship during 2014, and dedicated the title to them.
“I have to thank the entire team for giving me such incredible support all season, we have had some difficulties but you certainly don’t win that many races on your own, it is totally a team thing and they have been fantastic,” insisted Sainz Jr. “When I joined the team I thought I was a good worker but I soon understood that I was way off the mark!
“They’ve helped me to improve and to understand that speed isn’t enough; you also have to do a lot of work and be 100% per cent involved. It’s thanks to that and thanks to them that I’ve succeeded, and I’m delighted that the team’s been rewarded too.”
Sainz won the championship on what was by far his worst weekend of the season at Jerez. He did not qualify inside the top ten for either race, and although he finished ninth on Saturday, he was penalised post-race for a collision with Oscar Tunjo that relegated him to fifteenth.
“Fortunately we had done all the hard work before we got here and as soon as Roberto (Merhi) went out of Race 1 we had the championship,” said a relieved Sainz Jr. “We arrived believing that we would be competitive but it just never happened, it was all about tyre temperature and we never got the new tyres switched on.
“No matter what we did we didn’t have grip and the class is so competitive that if you are a few tenths off you are in trouble and I have to say this weekend we were no where.”