Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. was ecstatic to equal his best ever result at the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, Bringing the STR11 home in sixth place after completing a strong race.
The Spaniard struggled to hide his emotions as he described his joy at achieving what he considers to be a brilliant result, off the back of a torrid last few months that have seen the Faenza based squad score just two points since round eleven in Hungary.
“Today’s result is a very special one for myself and the team, it’s a top, top, TOP result!!
“What a boost and what a way to motivate the team and keep our heads up until the end of the season! I don’t know what this track has, but I just get such a good feeling every time I race here! It’s a weekend I will always remember!”
The 24-year-old rates yesterday’s result as his finest so far, as the team never really believed it was possible to finish in the points this weekend, due to a power deficit that is said by be losing them around seven tenths per lap.
“To equal my best result in Formula 1 makes me very happy, but this P6 is a bit more special than the one in Barcelona because here we didn’t think we really had the car to do so – our simulations before the race said we would only finish in P11 or P12 and here we were, fighting for a P5!”
As well as a strongly performing car this weekend, they were also able to do a good job of managing the tyres initially, and prospered from the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) which allowed them to jump ahead of the Williams Martini Racing machine of Felipe Massa.
Though it was tight towards the end of the race when Sainz Jnr was in a close battle with McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso and Massa, the Spaniard was able to keep hold of sixth place at the end, despite having severely worn down tyres.
“We were able to make the tyres last during the first stint, staying close to the Williams and then managed to create a good gap to Fernando on the Softs. We also got a bit lucky with the VSC period, which was great news for us, as we were suddenly in front of the Williams.
“We knew it was going to be very difficult to get to the end on the Soft tyre, but we committed to that and went to the end on that set – during the last two laps I had no tyre left and just had to hold on to it as best I could!”
Having led boyhood hero Alonso in fifth place for some time, Sainz Jnr was unable to keep his fellow countryman at bay all race, but made sure he did not make it too easy for the Spaniard, holding him up for a fair few laps before he was able to make his escape. It was a tussle Sainz Jnr thoroughly enjoyed.
“The battle with Fernando was so much fun! I knew that he would end up getting past me but I said to myself, ‘let’s make it a bit complicated for him!’ I perfectly know how he attacks and how to defend against him, as I’ve been watching him race for the past 12 years… And I think that to be able to keep him behind for all those laps until he just opened the DRS and said ‘ciao, ciao’ was pretty decent!”
Sunday’s race result was a fantastic one for the whole Toro Rosso team, who will now be full of confidence ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, and will maybe start to regain the belief that their season is not over just yet!
Sainz Jnr meanwhile sounds like he is going to celebrate his sixth place as if it was a victory…and after such a strong race, who could blame him!
“I’m so pleased, so happy, you just can’t imagine what’s going on inside me now, even if I’m not showing it on the outside, I’m delighted! I will definitely celebrate with champagne tonight, for me this feels like a win!”