Sainz hopes Toro Rosso can target fifth place in 2017

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Carlos Sainz hopes Toro Rosso can finish fifth in the 2017 Formula 1 Constructors’ championship, though he labels a maiden career podium as “utopia” at the moment.

Sainz is coming off a strong 2016 campaign where the 22-year-old further established his reputation as a rising star in the sport.

His name was linked to a Renault works seat but Red Bull moved swiftly to insist he was under contract with its junior squad for a third consecutive season.

Despite Toro Rosso getting current-spec Renault power units - they raced year-old Ferrari engines last year - the Spaniard admits it will be tough to become an F1 podium finisher in 2017.

“Talking about my first podium right now is a utopia,” Sainz told Spanish radio Cadena Cope.

“Challenging McLaren will be a tall order, as they have a bigger budget than us.

“Hopefully Toro Rosso will rank behind the Big Four, which for me will be Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.”

Saint’s career-best results are the trio of impressive sixth-place finishes he claimed in Barcelona, Austin, and Interlagos last year.

Toro Rosso, for its part, placed P7 in the 2016 Constructors’ standings, behind Force India, Williams, and McLaren.

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