Sainz: “Unlikely” I’ll be at Toro Rosso in 2018

2018 F1 season

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Carlos Sainz Jnr says it is unlikely he will return to Toro Rosso for a fourth season with the team next year.

No driver has ever spent four consecutive seasons at Toro Rosso, which serves as a junior team for Red Bull. GP2 champion Pierre Gasly, who is currently racing in Super Formula, has been widely tipped to join them for the 2018 F1 season.

“As you all know my target number one is to be with Red Bull next year and start fighting for podiums, wins, whatever they are fighting for next year. I’m going to keep pushing for this.”

“If that doesn’t happen obviously a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely and I’m not going to close the door to any opportunity.”

“It’s still very early,” Sainz added. I don’t really know what is going to happen next year.

“There’s obviously rumours going around now the paddock I heard, obviously silly season as you name it. And it’s good fun but for me the good fun is actually on track, to keep performing as I have been performing up until now.”

“It’s been a really good season, and we will see, I leave that to other people in my team to judge and to see. For me I have a job that is to drive the car and do it as fast as possible.”

Sainz is currently ninth in the championship on 29 points, 25 ahead of team mate Daniil Kvyat.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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50 comments on “Sainz: “Unlikely” I’ll be at Toro Rosso in 2018”

  1. I’m skeptical as to whether any other teams above Toro Rosso would really want him and those Red Bull seats seem secure for at least 3 years. He is too much of a risk, sure he is quick but he does make some ridiculous errors such as at Canada or Bahrain this year. Would I take him at Williams if Massa retires at the end of the year? I cannot decide.

    1. @kaikarden, I agree I think his value has dropped a little because of his crashes, which both were quite clumpsy and potentially dangerous. Were could he go next year? Maybe Renault, but they would surely have to pay a considerable amount to buy him from Red Bull. With Kubica coming into the picture, I expect Sainz to do another year at Toro Rosso.

      1. @me4me Would it really be buying though? I don’t think VER (JEV) was really bought from Red Bull instead of simply released

        1. Doesn’t “out of contract” mean no one has to pay to employ Sainz? In the case of Verstappen being released to drive at Red Bull Racing, there was a transfer of drivers, so it shouldn’t have cost RBR anything, they might have even charged STR for their “better” driver.
          Sainz scored more points that Kvyat did last year, and had less retirements (and is currently in the same situation), so if STR were going to retain one of their current drivers it is more likely to be Sainz than Kvyat.

      2. @me4me It’s not football, drivers cannot be bought the way football players can. Sure, people like Sainz and everyone on the top teams get a yearly salary of at least €1m with additional performance bonuses, but it’s not that Renault or any other can now say to Red Bull (STR) “list, we want to buy Carlos and we’ll pay you X amount”.

        Drivers either have a contract or they don’t and only in extraordinary situations (such as a performance clause) a driver is allowed to terminate his contract.

        1. @addvariety, Because Sainz came through the RB junior driver programme, RB can take up an option on him year on year until 2019. Both Sainz and Marko have said so. He is performing well so there is no reason not to. The ony clause out for Sainz is if a better team than Toro Rosso wanted to sign him, then RB cannot hold him (again, according to Marko). Renault isn’t there yet, so they cannot simply snatch him. They’ll probably have to pay.

          1. @me4me That’s exactly what I said:

            Drivers either have a contract or they don’t

            An option is not a contract itself and whether a team is better or not is debatable. Is Renault currently better than Toro Rosso? No. Will they be next year? Probably. So will Renault be a “better team” for Sainz? Who knows.

            So no, that’s not the only way out for Sainz. For example: Verstappen had a clause in his Red Bull contract (which is until 2019 just like Sainz) that he would be promoted to Red Bull Racing by the latest in 2017, otherwise he would be free to go wherever he wanted to go. The option for Sainz goes both ways, I’m sure nowhere in Sainz’s contract it’s stated that he’ll be obligated to race 5 years for Toro Rosso.

            The option goes both ways, Sainz should expect a promotion, unfortunately there are two Red Bull Racing drivers with contracts as well. So in any way, Toro Rosso was never made to become a top team, but Williams, McLaren and Renault are so even if the results are not there, those are better options for him for the future.

    2. @kaikarden I think many team bosses wouldn’t mind to sign him. If we don’t consider sponsor money, I think teams like Williams, Haas, Renault, or Force Whatever-it-will-be will happily trade one of their driver for him.

      And I think it’s obvious Sainz already lost faith in RB junior programme as he has been skipped twice to RBR seat. First with someone who slower than him and next with someone that has so much hype but unproven at that time. Luckily (or not for him), Verstappen performance does not disappoint.

      1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
        6th July 2017, 17:34

        @sonicslv Agree with you about Williams (possibly Massa retires for sure) and Haas (Magnussen has improved but doesn’t seem to be a real deal anymore). But Renault seem more interested in making Kubica return, and even Alonso could go there (if I were Alonso I would accept to race for Renault even for free). About Force India, who would you replace? Ocon seems to be strong (yes, I know he crashed with Perez, but it’s more a track flaw of being ridiculously narrow, than Ocon’s fault) and Perez is still at the top of his game.
        I think the music chairs depend a lot on Raikonnen (if he decides to stay) and definitely Massa. I don’t really see any other driver leaving F1 soon. Maybe Palmer is sidelined, but he has lots of money, so he can buy a spot at Haas and make Magnussen leave. so 2 or 3 seats available next season? Who knows…

        1. I really dont see Mag. leaving or being kicked out of Haas. He has put his head down as of late and put in some decent runs compared to Gro., whom seems to really be struggling with the cars brakes.

        2. @omarr-pepper While Ocon is improving, Sainz is still better driver than him. Aside from any contract or money problem, why wouldn’t a team boss pick Sainz over Ocon? Perez is definitely a keeper though. For Haas I think replacing either KMag or Grosjean is a possibility. Sainz is better than KMag and Grosjean is good but his problem with brakes is confusing and I’m not sure if it’s physical or psychological problem now, considering KMag doesn’t seem have that much problem and certainly other drivers who used the same brand can make it work too.

          For Renault, if they can get Kubica then yes, but otherwise why not Sainz? Even if Kubica return doesn’t guarantee he will at least match his last F1 form. Even Schumacher form are deemed disappointing in Mercedes.

          But then again this is only from driver skill standpoint. As we know its call silly season because so many silly reasoning on why someone goes where…

      2. @sonicslv

        Agree. I think Williams will have one eye on Sainz and so will Haas. I think if the Kubica move to Renault doesn’t work out, then he’s got a good shot there as well.

        Regarding the Red Bull seat, I agree it must have been difficult for him to see Verstappen get that drive, as they were pretty close up until that point in time. But I don’t know the second driver you are talking about…

        1. @Todfod.

          Sainz and Verstappen where close in quali, but on sunday Verstappen was doing a so much better job.
          Sainz tried to make it look like reliability is what got him behind Verstappen, but in reality Verstappen had similair issues in quali, falling back on the grid, yet he got in front of Sainz most of the times.

          Sainz has overtaken Max just once, in Spain 2015 due tobetter strategy, usually it was Verstappen was much faster on a sunday.

    3. It’s not just that he crashes a lot, but he seem really poisonous in a team. He is always in a row with his team mates and makes their life hard for no reason too.

      Like in Baku where he was complaining about Kvyat coming back on track like a “madman”. As if Kvyat had any place else to go to but back on track exactly at that spot. Sainz was just trying to block Kvyat and instead he got spooked and lost his own car.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th July 2017, 18:21

        @patrickl I’m not sure that’s true. Kvyat did join like a madman and with zero regard towards Sainz imho. I think Sainz avoided a collision at the expense of his own race.

        I know others don’t see it that way but this one was all Kvyat. Sainz was guilty for the Grosjean incident but not for this one.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          6th July 2017, 20:32


          I guess we are free to have our own opinions, but the commentates on Channel 4 and most other people thought that was a massive overreaction from Sainz. Kvyat didn’t suddenly rejoin the track, he left it until as late as possible without having to wait for everybody to pass. There was nothing wrong with what he did. Kvyat was pulling back onto the track as close to the barrier as possible and there was a leased half a cars width between the 2 and Sainz then just overreacted and unnecessarily lost control. He didn’t even need to turn to the left at all as Kvyat stayed as close to the wall. If Sainz felt he was going to hit him, which was incredibly unlikely, he did have the option to steer left a little. It was his own fault he went to far and lost control.

          I have to agree with what @patrickl said.

        2. Kvyat took a blended line back unto the straight. Sainz just over reacted and had his spin before Kvyat crossed the white line.

    4. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
      6th July 2017, 18:58

      @kaikarden Dont count Williams on Sainz possible seats for 2018.Martini needs one driver 25+,Sainz is born in 1994,so a bit difficult(as they already have Stroll,on a long term project)Massa will propably stay & for 2018 as he wants so & Lowe is satisfied with Felipe,so no room for Sainz in Williams.He has good options though,from Ferrari to Renault

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        6th July 2017, 21:07

        It does surprise me the amount of people that don’t know about the Williams sponsors requiring one driver to be over 25. I think Massa is doing a very decent job this year. He’s just had rotten luck like Verstappen and Kvyat. He’s potentially lost a potential 40+ points overall. Massa didn’t look good last year, but I think he is doing fine now. I don’t think it is Stroll that is making him look better. He is hardly making any mistakes and several of his races have looked very strong. He just need more luck to make some people realise he’s still a decent driver. I think it will benefit Williams having a driver like him as he’s the most experienced on the grid. I’m hoping the will keep him next year too.

        1. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
          6th July 2017, 21:13

          @thegianthogweed Totally agreed!Hopefully the beard that Massa left can bring him some good luck :p Seriously now,this year Felipe has been really good.Not that much in his qualy,where he has been stable but not exceptional,but his starts,his clean drive,his general pace has been there.With the big upgrade package that Willimas has brought for Austria,we might see Massa a bit closer to Rbr,especially in the upcoming power circuits.

    5. @kaikarden Let’s not judge Carlos by two errors this year, shall we? He’s a great driver, a very solid top performer who would (at the moment) outperform Kimi at Ferrari. He’s had two fantastic years at Toro Rosso and even though he indeed made some errors this year, he’s also outperformed himself with regards to the amount of points so far compared to last year-to-date.

      In perspective, I don’t think he has that edge that drivers such as Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen have, but other than Alonso and maybe Ricciardo and/or The Hulk nobody on the current grid has. And apart from Alonso all these guys are fixed for at least until the next season. Sainz would fit perfectly in the following group: Button, Massa, Bottas, Barrichello, Coulthard. All extremely capable and reliable, just not the absolute top. But not everyone has to be.

  2. Too much testosterone in one small package.

    1. Plus delusions of grandeur (ie ego)

  3. McLaren bound possibly, especially if Alonso leaves.

  4. Every driver that made their debut with Toro Rosso has either moved to Red Bull or left the sport entirely. So Sainz would be the first to stay in F1 in another team if he lands a seat somewhere…

  5. Good young driver who deserves a better team

  6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    6th July 2017, 16:53

    I think Sainz should just drive impeccably the rest of the season and then leave.

    A 4th season in Formula 1 at Toro Rosso will not do anything for his career, unless Toro Rosso has a winning car. In fact, it will compound the problem he’s facing.

    In fact, he probably should have left last year. If there’s another teammate, then he’s simply asking for trouble. Even if you are the best, you can’t beat everyone in F1.

    He has nothing to gain from staying in F1 other than the joy of driving and more experience – both are nice to have but they are more likely to cost him a drive than get him one…

    1. @freelittlebirds) Being the best means beating everyone.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th July 2017, 17:53

        @ivan-vinitskyy well, apparently that’s a tall order for Vettel, Alonso, Hulkenberg, and even Hamilton.

        1. It’s not just about points.

          I agree that Ricciardo showed himself to be the faster and better driver than Vettel. Vettel never could put up any challenge. Even the few occasions that he was in front of Ricciardo he was holding Ricciardo up and that was more often than not caused by a strategic fail from Red Bull or a technical/pit stop issue for Ricciardo.

          Then Kvyat had one season when he score more points than Ricciardo, but that doesn’t show that Kvyat was better/faster than Ricciardo. Ricciardo was clearly the fastest of the two, but he was also the least lucky and perhaps a bit too eager in a car that couldn’t really deliver. Faster and ahead in just about every race, but both Ricciardo sometimes tried to hard and then lost out. Like when Ricciardo was trying to win in Hungary and got rammed off by Rosberg. He could have won that race and went for it, but Kvyat just did his laps and in the end got more points.

          Hamilton had the same type of season with Button in 2011 although matters were even worse for Hamilton with the South American contingent keen on ramming him rather than being overtaken. In fact even Button put Hamilton in the wall in Canada when Hamilton was breezing past and Button went on to win that race.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            6th July 2017, 18:25

            @patrickl “the south American contingent” ramming him rather than being overtaken – awesome!

            Yes, Canada 2011 helped Button to the tune of 28-36 points assuming Hamilton was able to finish and do well in the race.

          2. Agree, except that Ham kept running into Massa, not the other way round. It was like they had magnets that year!

  7. To my mind he hasn’t changed much from what I saw of him in junior formula. Immensely fast when he’s out by himself, pumping in laptimes, really quite clumsy in wheel to wheel, not a great overtaker imo. He reminds me of a description I heard of the late Bianchi, massively talented with great car control, but doesn’t look in his mirrors enough.

    1. Bianchi, rest in peace, was the most over-hyped driver in Formula 1 in a long time. For someone that never won any important racing trophy, he sure got a lot of attention.

      Sainz on the other hand is the real deal. People have short memories and just because he’s had a couple of bad races, now they forget the previous two years of outstanding performances matching and occasionally beating Verstappen.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        6th July 2017, 20:59

        But it isn’t just a couple of races that he’s made obvious mistakes in. I remember quite a few others so it isn’t our bad memories that mean we haven’t been seeing things. He had a clumsy moment in Mexico 2016 and Alonso complained a huge amount about how dangerous that could have been. He pushed Alonso onto the grass at speed in pretty much the identical way to what he did with Grosjean in Canada, only this was at higher speed. Then this year, he has had the opportunity to finish in all 8 races, (assuming he had good reliability in Bahrain and Canada) but he lost his chance with 2 very clumsy and potentially dangerous crashes. Both each resulted in 2 penalty points, 2 3 place grid penalties and he also was responsible for himself retiring in them of them as well as 2 other drivers. And If Grosjean hadn’t reacted, He’d have probably retired as well. 4 penalty points in 4 races really does make you question how good he is as a top teams driver. He’s had outstanding races this year, but just as many races have either not been that impressive, or not that good at all. He’s also collected a reprimand in practice at Canada. The quantity of penalties he has collected this year just makes me wonder if a better team would want him. He only has has 2 less penalty points than Vettel and 2 more than anyone else. If you include all the races this year and consider Kvyat’s bad luck, Sainz hasn’t been much better. Even though the points hardly show that. It is even 4 – 4 in qualifying and when you average out their times, Sainz’s average qualifying time overall is only 5 thousandths of a second quicker. Vettel’s penalty points may look like a lot and as he is a top driver, you really shouldn’t expect that, but they were not collected so close together in comparison so Sainz’s if I am correct.

        I do believe Sainz is better than Kvyat as he has had more occasions where he has been better, especially last year. But quite a few occasions where he has been a fair bit worse because of his mistakes. If he gets things together again, I believe he will become stronger again. I still think Toro Rosso is a good choice as he is used to the team and if it was Kvyat and him will make a very experienced driver line up for the team.

        1. Hamilton just said that Sainz has surprised him more than any young driver!!! I will trust him more than you, Ben Rowe, sorry!!!!

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            6th July 2017, 22:22

            I will believe and trust him to be reliable if he starts to be consistent again. Overall last year and the year before, he was very good. But you really do have to question his overall performance this year.

  8. He deserves a shot at a better car. The way he has easily outclassed Kvyat shows this guy has some speed, and there isn’t much to show in that slow STR.

    I’d pick Sainz over Palmer, Magnussen and even Grosjean any day of the week. He’s also a better bet than both Sauber drivers.

    1. I would go as far as saying that he is up there with Verstappen in talent. He just hasn’t had the chance to show it in the Toro Rosso.

      1. He had that chance and lost.. not by a great margin but still….

      2. Sainz is an overrated driver, who thinks he’s god’s gift to F1.
        He will never be up there with the big guys, like Vettel and Hamilton.
        For the next generation, I would go with guys like Ocon, Verstappen or Hulkenberg instead.
        Sainz will be in teams like Sauber or Haas and will leave F1 eventually.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      6th July 2017, 20:00

      I actually feel the same. I think Grosjean is a great driver but the whole brake thing will end up breaking him… Those brakes are costing Haas a lot of points…

  9. I think he’ll go to Haas, and Grosjean will go back to Renault.

  10. Sainz may get his move to the Red Bull senior team….I am not sure Max will stay for another year certainly his body language recently has shown he is not happy with various problems……and yes his dad said otherwise…but he would say that anyway…..but in the end it is Max who would decide.
    I would not even speculate on which team he could go to, but when Christian Horner says they have him on a watertight contract……there is no contract that money can not renegotiate

    1. That’s entirely possible if Max leaves RBR to go to Ferrari or Mercedes.

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    6th July 2017, 20:16

    I’m very disappointed – nearly frustrated – with the whole driver team situation. Raikonnen is never going to leave Ferrari following Massa’s tenure at Ferrari.

    Stroll has “stolen” a position at one of the top 5 teams and now Massa has come back to be the father figure so he’s effectively stolen (or bought) 2 spots – the entire garage of Team Stroll.

    McLaren has gone from a top team to a bottom team but that could possibly change over the next 3 years :-)

    We have all these drivers who are hoping to get a chance at a top team – some of them are nearing their 30s or 4-5 seasons and there is simply nowhere to go.

    Yet we see Stroll joining Williams, Massa coming back, Kevin Magnussen joining McLaren, Kvyat bumped to Red Bull and bumped down, Perez bumped to McLaren and bumped down to Force India.

    How can a driver like Alonso not be able to find a good car in F1? How can a driver like Hulk not have a chance in his career to win a race?

    1. I hear you. Hulk has always been in the wings for a lot of teams. But personally i think if he was that good, he would find his way to a top team. It is a shame seeing Alonso also plod around the back of the field, but then His moves have always been his decision and he is the one that has to live with that so its hard to find too much sympathy for him

  12. If Kubica doesn’t come back I say he’ll go to Renault.

  13. Sainz hasn’t had a great season, he’s not nearly beating Kvyat as convincingly as he needs to to stake a claim for a top seat. Add to the fact that he seems to lack self-awareness, has a tendency to lay blame outside himself and picks fights with teammates when he feels like he’s losing, and I’m not sure bigger teams will necessarily take the chance. We’ll see.

    1. This. Red Bull have shown that they, quite ruthlessly, will simply promote the best drivers. So if Sainz wants to go up, he has to do better than either Ver or Ric, and right now he is struggling with Kvyat.
      Another team is not on the cards, because contracts apply to him just the same as everybody else.

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