Carlos Sainz Jr: “From the first lap I felt comfortable”

Infiniti Red Bull Racing gave Carlos Sainz Jr the opening day of the Abu Dhabi post-season at the Yas Marina Circuit, as a reward for his Formula Renault 3.5 Series winning season.

The Spaniard, who has been heavily linked to Jean-Eric Vergne’s Scuderia Toro Rosso drive for 2015, ran 100 laps on Tuesday, setting the fifth fastest time, and felt it was an incredible day in the desert.

“For me it was an incredible day, a day that I’ve been thinking about since I started the Formula Renault 3.5 season, knowing that this was the prize,” said Sainz Jr. “So it was always in my mind and to finally make it happen was an incredible feeling.

“It felt really good to be honest. Obviously I had a reference from the test at Silverstone last year in the RB9 and I could build up little by little, as it was a long day and I think I did 100 laps. From the first lap I felt comfortable and felt at home, so I was able to push.

“There were no problems at all even though it was an extensive programme. The morning was all about data gathering but in the afternoon I was able to push a bit more, so it was fun.”

Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum praised Sainz for his running, and felt the feedback he received from the Spaniard was excellent. He was also pleased how he adapted to the car having only tested it in a virtual way in the teams’ simulator in Milton Keynes.

“Carlos got through 100 laps, which is great for a rookie,” said Damerum. “He tested for us at Silverstone last year and since then he’s been in our simulator. His feedback is excellent and I think he has improved again over the past year.

“He’s obviously familiar with our car in the virtual world but it’s always a very different prospect on track and today he handled that really well.”