As we get ready to complete the final race of the 2016 F1 season in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat are looking forward to wrapping up the year on a high.
Reflecting on what has been a topsy-turvy year for the Faenza based squad, Sainz Jr cannot believe how the time has flown.
“Wow, it’s already the last race of the season, it’s unbelievable how quickly the year has gone by!”
Team-mate Kvyat, who has probably had more downs than ups in 2016, after being dropped by sister team Red Bull Racing in May, is looking forward to putting the season to rest, and starting afresh in 2017.
“Yeah, so much has happened… there were some bad times, but it’s turned out all right in the end. I can’t wait for next season to start, but I’m also quite happy to see the end of this season. You know the feeling when you need a change… and next year there are many changes!”
Sainz is also relishing the chance to have a bit of a break after Sunday’s race, but knows it will not be long before he’s back to work in preparation for next season.
“I’m keen to have some holidays now but I know already that after a couple of weekends without a race I will want to be back on track!! However, it won’t be a boring winter, there will be no time to hang around without doing anything!!”
Whilst a chill-out period is always nice, there is no real rest for a F1 driver, and Kvyat is well aware that there is a lot of work ahead to make sure he is in shape and ready for 2017.
“I had a talk with my trainer the other day …wow, there’s really a lot to do to get ready for next year, but I like it a lot…it’s an additional challenge to face.”
Sainz Jr is very much in the same boat, but both drivers are happy to train hard as they know it will give them the best chance to perform at the highest standard.
“It’s the same for me, but I’m very happy that being in good shape will make a bit more of a difference. I can’t wait…. but now, let’s make the most out of this final race weekend. It’s not over yet!!”
The location in the heart of the United Arab Emirates, is a destination the Spaniard looks forward to visiting, as it gives them the opportunity to feel a bit of heat in the usually cold winter.
“What I like about Abu Dhabi being in November is that it’s like travelling back to the summer for a week – back home it’s cold and nearly Christmas, so I enjoy a week of sun and heat in the middle of winter!”
In terms of the Yas Marina Circuit itself, both drivers agree that it is not the most exciting track to navigate, but it is good for racing, and Kvyat enjoys the views on display too.
“To go back to the track, the one in Abu Dhabi is typically modern…It’s not the most thrilling of tracks, as many of the corners are very similar, but it’s still a pleasant one to drive with a scenic backdrop.
“It’s a circuit that’s good for racing also because it’s got two good DRS zones.”
Sainz Jr also commented on the fact that there are a number of good spots for overtaking, and the weekend itself is also a really enjoyable one for the teams.
“It’s nice for overtaking, yes! And I have to say it’s a cool race weekend in general, it’s one I enjoy!”
One of the best features for Kvyat is the eatery between Turns 17 and 20, which provides a unique place to interact with the crowd.
“Ah! I’ve just remembered! Here [he points at the space in between Turns 17 to 20] there’s a very good restaurant – you could wave to the people while they’re having dinner!”
Racing as the sun goes down is also a favourite part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for both Toro Rosso boys, which Sainz Jr describes as a fantastic experience.
“What I also like is the fact that it’s a twilight race – we start when the sun is still out and then it gets darker and darker while we’re racing, it’s cool!”
Kvyat also loves the atmosphere that setting gives, as well as seeing the pictures captured by the photographers after the race.
“Oh yes, I really like that too! The colour of the sun in the Middle East is really lovely – sort of orange – at that time of day. Our photographer friends can get really nice photos!”
As this weekend’s race signals a close on the 2016 season, both drivers will be ready to give it their all on Sunday, and end the year on a positive note.