The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was a race that had the potential to deliver much more than the two championship points achieved by the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, and the outfit is hopeful of a better showing at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Both rookie drivers, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, looked on haul to claim a brace of points for the Italian outfit, but walked away with just a ninth-placed finish for Sainz, whose run to a potential top-six result was scuppered by a sticking left-rear wheel during his pit stop. Having lost almost a minute in the pits, the team elected to switch him to a one-stop strategy, and he fell to ninth place late in the race when his well-worn tyres went off.
Teammate Max Verstappen had a tougher run, succumbing to a Renault engine problem late in the race. His father, former F1 racer Jos Verstappen, was so angry with the DNF for his son that he broke one of the doors in the team’s hospitality unit in the Albert Park paddock!
The Dutch teenager was more circumspect afterwards, and hopes to turn his fortunes around in his first ever race at the Sepang International Circuit, undoubtedly one of the toughest on the calendar because of Malaysia’s energy-sapping heat and humidity.
“I’ve watched a lot of videos of [my father] racing at Sepang and the track looks really cool. I know it’s going to be a hot and sweaty weekend, but I’ve done some heat training which went very well and I believe that will pay off when I actually go there,” he said ahead of this weekend’s race.
Teammate Carlos Sainz Jr at least has some on-track experience of the circuit, earning a podium finish in his first ever open-wheel race in the Formula BMW Pacific series in 2010. Racing as a guest driver and ineligible to score championship points, he still finished in second place in his first ever car race, and backed that up with a fourth-placed finish and a win in the weekend’s final race.
That proved enough to earn him a permanent call-up to the Red Bull Junior Team in the European Formula BMW series, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I have memories of a really nice weekend [there],” Sainz recalled. “I went back a couple more times for races there, and I remember that it’s very warm and humid at the time of year we will be there, which makes it tough for the drivers. I will be looking to this weekend as a really good test of my physical condition for the rest of the season. It’s going to be an interesting weekend.”
Image via Scuderia Toro Rosso