Scuderia Toro Rosso will field a highly talented rookie line-up in next year’s Formula 1 World Championship, announcing that Carlos Sainz Jr – the son of rallying legend Carlos Sainz – will partner Max Verstappen.
The 20-year-old Spaniard won this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship crown, winning seven of the season’s seventeen races to beat fellow Red Bull-backed Pierre Gasly to the title.
Sainz Jr has enjoyed the backing of the Red Bull drinks group for a number of years, and first tested a Formula 1 car at last year’s ‘Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone, piloting a Toro Rosso STR8.
That test ultimately served as an audition for the 2014 season, with GP3 title-winner Daniil Kvyat earning a surprise promotion to Toro Rosso’s line-up ahead of Sainz Jr and the equally highly-rated António Félix da Costa.
Sainz Jr was overlooked again when Red Bull opted to promote Formula 3 title contender Verstappen into the seat as the replacement for the Red Bull-bound Kvyat – who will replace Sebastian Vettel after the German’s move to Ferrari – and it was a decision which Sainz was openly critical of.
Nonetheless, his Formula Renault 3.5 Series title earned him another F1 test outing, this time with Red Bull Racing at last week’s season-ending test at Abu Dhabi, where he performed impressively to earn the second Toro Rosso seat and replace Jean-Éric Vergne.
“With Carlos Sainz joining Max Verstappen in our driver line-up next year, we continue the Toro Rosso tradition of providing youngsters from the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme with their first steps in Formula 1,” Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said.
“I have watched Carlos progress through the junior categories, always improving as he moved higher up the ladder, culminating in a well-deserved win in this year’s World Series. However, I also remember the day’s testing he did with us at Silverstone in 2013 in the STR8. He really surprised me and his engineers that day, with his mature approach and his speed.”
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