Carlos Sainz Jr: “It will all be about the qualifying session”

The Scuderia Toro Rosso team showed good speed during the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago, at least during qualifying, but were only rewarded with a ninth place finish for Carlos Sainz Jr having started fifth, while Max Verstappen faded to eleventh having started sixth.

They now head to a much different circuit in Monaco, aiming to score more points for the team as they look to challenge for the fifth place in the championship they were aiming for pre-season.

Sainz was quick at this circuit a year ago whilst driving in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, ultimately finishing fourth, but expects the feeling of driving a Formula 1 car around Monaco will be a much different experience. He understands the importance of Saturday qualifying, knowing that a good session can give a driver a great chance of points on Sunday.

“Monaco is definitely one of the highlights of the racing year for any driver,” said Sainz. “It’s a special sort of track where you always want to show that you are fast, because it’s a very challenging circuit where the driver can make the difference.

“I’ve had some very positive results there in the past in the World Series and it’s a track I like a lot. However, this will be my first time driving there in a Formula 1 car and I imagine it will feel very different to what I’ve experienced there before.

“It will all be about the qualifying session, which in some ways is the most important moment of the race weekend. So you really need to find the right balance with the car during free practice and then put together a good lap.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday very much therefore, because I can imagine that getting a good lap in qualifying must feel like something really special.”

Verstappen will be making his first appearance at the legendary track, but had previous street racing experience in European Formula 3 in 2014, racing around the legendary Pau and Macau circuits. He feels that patience is a virtue this weekend, and will work towards finding the speed as he learns the circuit, but feels the driver can make the difference at Monaco.

“A street circuit is always special,” said Verstappen. “I’ve never driven at this track before but I have driven at Macau, which I reckon is a very challenging street circuit. I enjoyed the experience there and so I’m looking forward to Monaco.

“It will need a different approach and you can’t just attack it in the first free practice session, you need to build up to it gradually. The important thing is to do as many laps as possible. I’ve driven it on the simulator and what strikes you is that it is quite slow.

“Even if engine power will be less important here, you do need the best possible driveability to come from the engine. I expect the lap times between the teams to be much closer than in some other races.

“In the end, set-up changes won’t make the biggest difference. It’s more a case of what you as a driver can get out of yourself. In Monaco, I think it will be more likely to get an extra 2 tenths out of yourself than from something you do to the car.”