Carlos Sainz says he has 17 races to prove to Red Bull he is worthy of following Max Verstappen’s step up to the senior team.
Sainz has a new teammate in Spain this weekend, after Verstappen swapped places with Daniil Kvyat ahead of the Barcelona race. The early promotion tied Verstappen into a long-term deal at Red Bull and means Sainz now has to target the seat of Daniel Ricciardo, who has been linked with a drive at Ferrari next year.
“Well I don’t get to evaluate the performance of each driver, obviously that is done by my bosses at Red Bull,” Sainz said in Barcelona. “But it’s now my time. I appreciate what Red Bull is doing quite a lot which is just to put young talent in to a Formula One team as soon as you do a good job.
“They show you the confidence, they give you the chance and now it is my time to fight more than ever for that. I have 17 races ahead to get the maximum out of myself, to fight for my chance as much as I can and I’m sure that if I show the same speed but just with better results then my chance can come.”
Sainz also refuted rumours of a rift between himself and Verstappen, saying there was always respect on and off the track.
“I think the personal relationship Max and I have is not a big issue, honestly. I think we both always maintained the respect outside of the track and I think we showed it in every moment. I think it’s more a matter of the team perspective, of how the team was working and that’s where Franz Tost and Helmut Marko come to play and take the decision.
“But from Max and myself there was always respect, there was always good vibes with each other. Obviously we were fighting a lot on track, we were always very, very close to each other and there was always some battles going on but they stayed on the track and out there it was just a matter of engineering, maybe just not being a comfortable team and that’s why they decided to take these decisions internally.
“We were just talking before coming in [to the press conference] that we were going to go go-karting in one week together. So that shows that it really stays on track.”