Carlos Sainz Jr. believes his good performances during the 2016 Formula 1 season was nothing to do with Max Verstappen being promoted to Red Bull Racing.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver debuted in 2015 alongside Verstappen, and for 2016 they continued as team-mates, until the Russian Grand Prix where Verstappen was promoted to the sister team. Following the poor display from Daniil Kvyat, where he crashed twice into Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, the decision was made to demote him.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, Sainz secured his career-best finish of sixth. From this moment, the Spaniard went on to out-qualify and outscore his new team-mate over the rest of the season. His strong performance meant he scored more than 70% of the team’s Constructors’ Championship points.
When asked if his performance was impacted by this movement between teams, Sainz said, “It’s a question I’ve been asked the whole year. I know there’s a coincidence that Max left and suddenly I started to show, but I still think nothing would have changed.
“I still think P6 and P7 if Max had finished in front in Spain. I still think I would’ve fought for a podium in Monaco, and a P8 in Canada. I don’t think a piece of Kvyat’s front wing wouldn’t have come into my radiator like it did in Russia.
“China, a pit stop with [Sebastian] Vettel slowing me down in the pit entry while I was in P6 didn’t happen in Spain. Small details stopped happening to me after Spain that had nothing to do with Max.”