After securing points in both the opening two rounds of the season, the Scuderia Toro Rosso team were on course for more in China, but luck was not on their side, with Max Verstappen being forced to retire while running eighth, while Carlos Sainz Jr was down in thirteenth following an early spin.
Verstappen continued to belie his apparent lack of experience with another strong drive in China, although his efforts would ultimate come to nothing when the Renault engine in the back of his car expired with just a handful of laps to go, forcing him to stop on the pit straight while on course for a points finish.
“It’s a disappointing way to end what was being a great race,” said Verstappen. “To be running in the points positions but then have to stop the car so close to the end of the race is very frustrating.
“I’m obviously not happy with the final result but as a team we did the best job possible today. The car was performing well and even though we are lacking some top speed, the braking and the downforce we have on the car is really good and that helped me to complete some good overtakes, which I enjoyed a lot.”
Team-mate Sainz saw his run of points scoring races come to an end after a disappointing afternoon for the Spaniard saw him finish down in thirteenth position having spun early on. He admitted the spin was down to him as he was low on grip while using the Prime tyres. A gremlin within the gearbox also cost him valuable time.
“It was a very difficult race for us today,” insisted Sainz. “We started on Prime tyres, but the track was very green and dirty at the beginning, so we immediately suffered a considerable lack of grip. While I was really pushing hard to be on top of Force India for the first stint, unfortunately I made a mistake. It’s a real shame!
“From then on, as soon as we put the Soft tyres on, the balance came back and I was feeling comfortable with the car. Unfortunately we had an issue with the gearbox, which we still have to investigate, which made us lose more time. Without that problem I think we could’ve been in contention for points.”