Carlos Sainz Jr: “I’m really enjoying myself a lot”

It was a promising first qualifying session of the season for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team in Australia, with both Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen showing good turns of speed around the Albert Park circuit. Sainz ended up eighth on the grid and Verstappen twelfth.

Sainz Jr had ended every practice session inside the top ten, and continued this run into qualifying, comfortably making it through into the top ten shoot-out despite an early spin. He is unsure what his debut race in Formula 1 will bring him on Sunday, but feels eager to get started.

“I’m very happy, it feels great to be starting my first ever Formula 1 race from P8 on the grid tomorrow,” insisted Sainz. “It was quite a smooth qualifying session apart from Q1, where I made a small mistake, but I didn’t let that affect me and from then onwards everything went really well.

“I just kept focused and tuned the car to my liking to extract its full potential. I feel very comfortable in the car; I’m really enjoying myself a lot.

“It’s difficult to know what to expect tomorrow, as it will be my first race, but I’m looking forward to it. It will surely be a bit of an adventure but this is what I’ve been preparing myself for the whole winter and I feel ready.”

Team-mate and fellow F1 debutant Verstappen made a small mistake on his final lap in qualifying that cost him the opportunity to join Sainz in Q3, but hopes to be able to turn his twelfth place on the grid into a top ten finish on Sunday.

“Today’s final practice was good for me to get back running again and try some different set-ups, so it was very useful before going into qualifying,” revealed Verstappen.

“I felt good in the car from the start and did a good Q1. The first run in Q2 was reasonable, even though I had something stuck in my back so my shoulder hurt a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good lap because the tyres were not ready.

“During the second push-lap, I made a mistake out of Turn 4, where I went a bit too wide and lost the rear, losing quite a lot of time. It’s a shame but I can’t change any of this now.

“I look forward to tomorrow, my first ever Formula 1 race. The car is working well and hopefully we will be able to score some points as we have a good race pace.”