Scuderia Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has revealed that the performances shown by rookie drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr during 2015 were ‘surprisingly good’ and believed with a more reliable car they both could have finished higher in the championship.
Tost believes that Verstappen and Sainz were the ‘strongest part’ of the Toro Rosso team in 2015, and believes both are similar in terms of raw speed on track.
“The performance from both drivers was surprisingly good,” said Tost to Autosport. “Both drivers have done a really good job because they are new in Formula 1.
“With a more reliable car I think both would have surprised a bit more and have scored more points. I must say that the drivers have been the strongest part of the team this year. From pure speed, both drivers are quite similar.”
Tost heaped praise on teenage sensation Verstappen, especially when it came to his overtaking prowess, something the Dutchman became renowned for during his rookie season, with the team boss being impressed with the control he showed on track.
“Knowing how far behind from the power-side we were this season, his overtaking moves that he showed, especially in Austin and Sao Paulo, were really impressive,” insisted Tost.
“What impressed me most was that there was no action where you thought he did not have it under control. There was no locking fronts, no touching wheels with others in an unfair way.
“What also was impressive is he pulled back when he saw it didn’t work. This control and the possibility to estimate whether you can start the pass or not is really good.”
Tost bemoaned the reliability issues that blighted Sainz during his own rookie season, with the Spaniard being forced to retire seven times compared to Verstappen’s four, a number of those while running inside the top ten. Despite this, Tost praised Sainz for his set-up abilities and his mentality to deal with the unreliability issues.
“His understanding of how to set up the car is impressive,” reflected Tost. “Unfortunately, all the time he had technical failure.
“It was very important that he is mentally strong and that he can forget this, take it on the side and say ‘OK, the race was bad because of the reliability issue so let’s concentrate on the next race’.
“I’m convinced he will have a lot of highlights next year because sooner or later he will get back what he deserves.”