While the Mercedes team might have been grabbing most of the headlines for a so-far dominant performance over the Australian Grand Prix, one of the weekend’s revelations has been the performance of Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr.
The Spaniard continued his impressive Grand Prix debut with a sparkling performance in qualifying. After performing well in final practice, it looked like the occasion of qualifying might get the better of him when he spun for the second time this weekend at Turn 15, however he quickly regained his composure and finished eighth-fastest overall.
“I’m very happy, it feels great to be starting my first ever Formula 1 race from P8 on the grid tomorrow!” he exclaimed afterwards.
“It was quite a smooth qualifying session apart from Q1, where I made a small mistake, but I didn’t let that affect me and from then onwards everything went really well. I just kept focused and tuned the car to my liking to extract its full potential.
“I feel very comfortable in the car, I’m really enjoying myself a lot. It’s difficult to know what to expect tomorrow, as it will be my first race, but I’m looking forward to it. It will surely be a bit of an adventure but this is what I’ve been preparing myself for the whole winter and I feel ready.”
Fellow rookie and teammate Max Verstappen missed out on joining Sainz Jr in Q3 thanks to a mistake on his final flying lap in Q2; the Dutchman lost the back end of his STR10 at Turn 4 and was lucky to avoid an accident. The slide cost him a few precious tenths of a second and consigned him to a twelfth-placed starting position for Sunday’s 58-lap race.
“Today’s final practice was good for me to get back running again and try some different set-ups, so it was very useful before going into qualifying. I felt good in the car from the start and did a good Q1,” the Dutch teenager said after qualifying.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good lap [in Q2] because the tyres were not ready. During the second push-lap, I made a mistake out of Turn 4, where I went a bit too wide and lost the rear, losing quite a lot of time. It’s a shame but I can’t change any of this now. I look forward to tomorrow, my first ever Formula 1 race. The car is working well and hopefully we will be able to score some points as we have a good race pace.”
Images via Scuderia Toro Rosso