“I think we’ve taken the biggest hit from the engine side,” said Sainz when asked about the team’s difficult second half of the year.
“We thought by Canada when we were clearly leading the midfield that the B-spec [power unit] had been successful, which it was at the time.
“Up until Hockenheim we were, let’s say, happy enough with what we had. We thought we were going to make it to the end of the year being a Q3 team, scoring points.
“But then those upgrades Mercedes and Ferrari brought to Austria, to Hockenheim, to Hungary, we started to feel them a lot in places like Spa, Monza and consequently in places like Suzuka.
“To compensate that big engine deficit we should have brought a lot more aero than what we brought but I think it’s mainly dominated by engine.”
After Honda introduced its C-spec engine Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost claimed the Japanese manufacturer had overtaken Renault. Sainz isn’t convinced but admitted Honda’s gains in qualifying are “worrying” for Renault.
“I think in qualifying it’s difficult to say. In the race definitely not, I don’t think we’re behind on race pace, I managed to overtake both Honda cars in the race at Suzuka with better race pace than them which was a good boost, I think for us.
“But I do think in qualifying they put a step that for us starts to be worrying. They took a step in qualifying that we didn’t have and that put them in Q3.”
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