Carlos Sainz Jr believed there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders when the decision was made to switch Max Verstappen to Red Bull Racing in place of Daniil Kvyat, who returned to Scuderia Toro Rosso.
A lot of attention was given to Kvyat due to his demotion to the junior outfit alongside Sainz, but seeing Verstappen switch to Red Bull instead of the Spaniard added some extra pressure on his shoulders, and he admitted that he used that to motivate himself throughout the rest of the season.
Sainz hit back immediately in the Spanish Grand Prix to take a career best finish of sixth, a position he matched in both the United States Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“I tried to show a lot of strength but it was a difficult moment, obviously, because you don’t like being overlooked by someone,” said Sainz to Autosport. “People talked about how difficult it was for Kvyat but people thought it was easy for me also.
“They didn’t take into account that it was also a difficult moment for me, that I had to react and I had to suddenly take the attention of Red Bull. I said to myself, ‘I will prove you wrong’ and then my best three races in Formula 1 came directly after that and a contract arrived in Baku and I signed it immediately.
“So it was a big turning point and a good reaction to a very tricky situation. It would have been quite tricky for me suddenly to do not such a good job against Kvyat. It could have put my F1 career in a tricky situation so I was under a lot of pressure and I performed at my best level.”