Scuderia Toro Rosso left the Australian Grand Prix with two points through a ninth place finish for Carlos Sainz Jr, but Max Verstappen was forced to retire when he was on course for a top ten finish with a problem with his Renault power unit.
Sainz finished ninth, losing eighth late in the race when Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, on fresher tyres, passed him, but was on course for an even better result before a slow pit stop cost him a lot of time. He admitted responsibility for clipping the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Scuderia Ferrari heading into the opening corner, but overall was happy with his debut Grand Prix even if he thought he could have finished higher.
“I’m very pleased to have scored my first ever Formula 1 points in my debut race here in Melbourne,” reflected Sainz. “Obviously, we know there was much more potential than a P9 today but, all in all, if we take into account everything that happened, we need to stay positive, keep improving and believing in ourselves because we know we can do better.
“I really enjoyed today’s race, I did a great start and I liked the battles into turn 1, even though I was maybe a bit too optimistic there but I learned my lesson. The slow pit-stop was a tough moment for the whole team, as we were in a very good position and lost quite a lot of time.
“From then onwards the race changed and it was just a matter of bringing it home without problems. I’m happy with my first race weekend, I feel that I’ve achieved all my objectives and I look forward to the next race in Malaysia in two week’s time.”
Fellow rookie Verstappen was on course to score points before a problem with one of the components of the power unit forced him to retire just after his pit stop, but the seventeen-year-old Dutchman had shown maturity that belied his age throughout the race up to that point.
“A disappointing way to end my first ever Formula 1 race, but there have also been many positives along the way this weekend,” revealed Verstappen.
“In today’s race I had a good first run on the mediums; a lot of people around me were on softs and I was still able to stay quite close to them. But as soon as I re-joined the race after my pit stop I saw smoke, so I reported that to the pit-wall and they asked me to stop the car.
“It’s a real shame, because I was feeling good, the car was working well and if I had been able to stay on track I think we would’ve finished in the points.
“We’ve been a bit unlucky, but we need to focus on the positives and get ready for the next race in Malaysia, where I will put everything we’ve learned here in Melbourne into practice and I hope for a much better result.”