Having lost out to Force India for fifth place in the constructors’ championship and left to fight Lotus for sixth, Carlos Sainz Jr. wants Toro Rosso to be on the heels of the front-runners this weekend at the Yas Marina circuit.

Sainz failed to start the Brazilian Grand Prix a fortnight ago due to an electrical problem, so he is keen to make up for lost points.

“I think the realistic expectation is to be the fifth car. The other cars obviously they have had a massive step forward during the season and they look to be one step ahead of us now. But to be in the top 10/top 9 would be the objective,” Sainz said.

“Last year the car here was quite strong, looking at the results and the pace of [Daniil] Kvyat, they were quite strong, even though this year the power deficit is bigger and the straights are quite long. I think we can challenge in the first and last sector to get back the time we lose in the second sector,” he added.

Although this is Sainz’s first full season in Formula 1, the Yas Marina circuit isn’t an unfamiliar track for the Spaniard, as he tested here 12 months ago for Red Bull Racing which propelled his career forward into F1.

“The year has gone by really, really quick. It’s incredible that we’re in Abu Dhabi now, its eight months since the first race and it’s exactly 12 months since my test with Red Bull that changed my life. So it’s incredible to be here with a smile on my face after a very decent year, I’m a very happy guy to complete my first year in Formula 1.”

Sainz, along with his team-mate Max Verstappen, have been outstanding additions to the Formula 1 roster in their rookie seasons. Never mind the amount of points finishes both have scored and pure pace they have displayed over the weekends, but both have proven themselves worthy racers with their impressive overtakes over the season.

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Sainz isn’t fazed by the task over making his way through the field if he fails to reach Q3 on Saturday.

“Looking at last year, the guys who didn’t start in the top ten had a massive advantage by not starting on the super softs and by having an alternative strategy, a bit like what could have happened in Brazil when there’s such a big difference, but when the option tyre doesn’t work so well it gives you a big advantage.

“You can start on a new tyre, even if you are 11th or 12th, so if you are following other cars you have the opportunity to change the strategy. Personally, it’s always nicer to go into Q3, the feeling of that, even if you start 10th or 9th instead of 11th, to go into Q3 is always better.”

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Josh Kruse

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