Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz said he is very happy with his team’s qualifying result for the Singapore Grand Prix. The Spaniard qualified sixth-fastest, just ahead of his teammate Daniil Kvyat in seventh, with only the top three teams qualifying ahead.
“It was a good day for everyone, the whole team and for myself with that last lap in Q3. A top day for everyone in Toro Rosso,” Sainz said afterwards.
The team are running 2015-spec Ferrari engines, which have not been upgraded since last year. With the rest of the field all running 2016-specification power units, the Italian team came into Singapore on the back of two difficult races at the power-hungry Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. With the Marina Bay circuit being far less horsepower critical, the team predicted a good result while rumoured to have one of the best chassis’ on the grid.
“We are three or four tenths ahead of Force India, which was pretty much unthinkable two races ago. We are much closer to the top teams [too]. Okay they are in a different league – but it is one and a half seconds, which is more or less the same as it was in Australia, amazing,” Sainz added.
“It is just pure downforce and not worrying too much about the drag and the top speed. I am the slowest in every speed trap. I am the slowest everywhere except for in the corners, so it shows in the corners the car is performing really well. So we can be really pleased with that.”
The Spaniard has been consistently quicker than Kvyat since the Russian joined the squad after being demoted by Red Bull Racing, and continued that form this weekend. He does not believe it is down to the cars being substantially different in set-up.
“If there is a difference [between us] it is really, really small. Today I was quite a lot slower than Daniil on the straights. So probably there is something to be analysed there because it was quite a big chunk. Maybe that was something that was not helping at Spa and places like that.”
The Spaniard says he is very optimistic that he will be once again able to show his early-season form, which deteriorated as his rivals received engine upgrades.
“I am starting in a similar position to Barcelona, where I could overtake the Ferraris at the start. It is very encouraging,” he continued.
“I managed to send a little message overtaking both Ferraris at the start in Spain and fighting for a podium in Monaco. Tomorrow could be a bit the same.”
Having qualified P6, Sainz has only the Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari in front of him. He is, however, remaining realistic that his race will be with cars coming from behind as it will be important for the Italian squad to maximise their points haul this weekend with the coming races also expected to be difficult.
“If the next seven tracks will be like Singapore then I would be very, very happy, but unfortunately it is not like that and we will go a bit backwards at the next races. But at least we know that is just because of the engine thing and not because we just haven’t developed or are going backwards.
“We cannot forget our battle … is with Force India and particularly McLaren. McLaren is the main team we want to keep beat and that will be, not our full focus, but one of our main [objectives].”
Image via Scuderia Toro Rosso