Carlos Sainz Jr. has dropped the firmest hint yet that he is set to stay with Toro Rosso for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
With Red Bull requesting a termination of its team’s engine supply agreement with Renault a year early, the F1 futures of Toro Rosso, Red Bull and their drivers were uncertain. However, Toro Rosso is closing on a deal that will see it using 2015-spec Ferrari engines next year while Red Bull looks set to stick with Renault power.
When asked in Brazil ahead of this weekend’s grand prix if he would be with Toro Rosso next season, Sainz said: “It’s not a 100 percent but it should be…I’m not worried, let’s put it like that.”
He added: “This is my main focus, to stay with Toro Rosso. It is what would make me most happy of all because I really believe in this team for next year. Putting [aside] the two issues we have had this year, which is the power and reliability, we can be in a really strong position.
“I’ll have more experience and I hope this extra experience and having one winter to reflect on your first season makes a good step forward for 2016. Now that I know F1 much better, now that I know myself in F1, I can analyze how do I do things, what I need to improve and what do I need to keep. I can put all the pieces together and build up myself to the 2016 season, which will be an important one.
“I have to get the best out of myself and the best out of the car with all the experience I’ve gained. It will be easier to go in with a much clearer approach. I’m doing a fairly good job and I hope to keep doing that next year and score more points and less reliability issues.”
Sainz’s teammate Max Verstappen is understood to have a long-term deal with Red Bull and is also expected to stay at Toro Rosso next season.
“I still have a lot of things to learn and I’m pretty happy where I am right now,” he said. “Hopefully in a couple of years I can fight for victories. I think everybody wants that.”