It's not often that a driver is happy to see a rival team getting stronger over the course of a season. But Carlos Sainz is feeling particularly positive about Renault's improving performance this season - and what it might mean for him in 2018.
The current Toro Rosso driver is due to move to Renault next year. While the French team has struggled at times this season, he believes its rate of development will place him in a strong position once he makes the switch.
"I’ve seen that a lot of time Renault has been the fourth-fastest team this year," Sainz told GP Gazette. "What I’ve also seen is the development they’ve had during the season, which also puts a smile on my face.
"I know how much they’ve developed and how much effort they are putting into everything," he continued. "It’s a manufacturer that wants to become world champions.
"They want to do it in the medium- to short-term. And they’ve trusted me to help them to do that.
"I want to help them to take the next step," he stated. "If it’s to consolidate as the fourth team or be the third team, I don’t know. We haven’t talked about this yet."
Sainz has been at Toro Rosso since his Formula 1 début in Australia in 2015. After three seasons at the same team, a switch to Renault marks a major point in his F1 career.
“I think when a driver becomes a manufacturer driver it’s a step in a career," he agreed. "It means you are now part of a massive organisation. Not only in motorsport, but a car company."
It's well known that Renault has been after Sainz for some time. The new loan arrangement was finally agreed as part of a complicated deal on engine supply involving Red Bull, McLaren and Honda as well as Renault and Toro Rosso.
Sainz said that it was nice to feel so wanted - by both Toro Rosso who were so reluctant to give him up, and Renault who were so keen to hold of him.
"I’m stepping into a team that is a childhood dream," he said. "A team that is on its way up, motivated to go forward. A team that has been looking for me since midway of 2016.
“I became a fan of F1 because of watching Fernando win races with Renault," he explained. "To finally join this team when it’s on its way up, like it was in 2003 and 2004, is a great honour.
"I’m always going to be thankful to them," Sainz added. "For pushing for me for as long as they’ve been pushing. And we finally made it happen."