Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr is more than ready to get the 2017 Formula 1 season underway, after a long break from the action training hard and preparing for the battle ahead.
“I’m ready! I’d say that if there’s a race where you are always ready, that’s Australia, because you’ve been thinking and preparing for it for months! So it’s definitely a race where I feel as ready as ever!”
Having finished down the lower end of the top ten, in ninth, on the two previous occasions he has taken part in the Australian Grand Prix, the Spaniard is hoping to improve on that result this time around, and he is confident that will be achievable.
“I’ve finished ninth both times I’ve ever raced in Australia, but I want more than that and I think it’s possible to achieve – the previous two years we finished P9 but we could’ve finished much higher.
“I remember racing in P5 at some point in both 2015 and 2016 but in the end we just didn’t make the most out of those situations…so we definitely want more this year!”
One of the quirkier reasons for Sainz Jr’s love of visiting Australia is meerkats! Having been given a toy version after a trip to Melbourne Zoo in 2015, ever since then the meerkat has been a lucky charm for the Spaniard, and he is never without one!
“I remember visiting the Melbourne Zoo in 2015 and seeing some of them [meerkats]. They were so much fun to watch!
“My PR girl bought me a toy meerkat from the souvenir shop and since then it’s become a bit of a lucky charm. I have to say that now I have toy meerkat from all around the world because fans are constantly giving me this as presents, which is funny!”
With the race in Australia being somewhat of a jet lag nightmare for many, most drivers rock up to the paddock at least a week in advance to acclimatise themselves to the time zone, and Sainz Jr is no exception.
“Because of the fact that the Australian GP is the first race and the one that’s most far away, it’s the race where we arrive the earliest.
“I get in Melbourne on Sunday night, a week before the race, so we have some free time there – I use it to adapt myself to the time change and I therefore have some time for myself, so you get to know the city better and visit some cool places.”
The Spaniard is a big fan of the Australian way of life and culture as well as the race itself, but his most overriding memory and favourite thing to do whilst out there, is to train with one of his all-time heroes…Arnold Schwarzenegger!
“In the gym, every morning during the race week, I always train with Arnold Schwarzenegger because he stays in the same hotel as me! At least this has been the case during the last two years, let’s see if he’s there again this year; I find it pretty cool!
Winter testing got off to a slow start for the Scuderia Toro Rosso boys, after a number of technical issues halted their progress, but by the end of the eight days of running, they were able to start posting some fast lap times.
That has given the team confidence ahead of the first race in Melbourne, and although they know they are unlikely to be one of the top runners out there, they are hoping to enjoy a strong weekend.