Both F1 debutants have impressed so far thanks to strong performances in the opening two races. Reigning FR 3.5 champion Sainz has secured a pair of top-ten finishes while 17-year-old Verstappen became the youngest Formula One driver ever to score points when he claimed P7 in Sepang.
What’s more, each Toro Rosso driver can already boast a maiden Q3 appearance – Australia for Sainz, Malaysia for Verstappen – and the Renault-powered STR10 has been a match for Red Bull’s RB11. The Faenza-based team currently sits fifth in the Constructors’ race, one point ahead of its sister squad.
Although Sainz has never raced in Shanghai, the Spaniard expects similar track conditions to what he experienced in pre-season testing with higher tyre degradation at the front.
“China is a circuit that I don’t know at all, in a country that I don’t know very well, so I am looking forward to enjoying a new experience,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s a very special and unusual circuit according to what the team engineers tell me.
“Normally, with the Pirelli tyres, the rear end of the car is the most difficult to deal with, but in Shanghai it’s the front axle that requires the most careful attention as you can have some front graining. That means it could be similar to conditions we encountered during winter testing. The track looks challenging, with really long corners taken at high speed, which is something I am looking forward to.”
Also making his Shanghai debut this weekend, team-mate Verstappen thinks the Chinese layout has interesting features, including its trademark opening segment.
“I’ve been to China a few times already, although I have never been to Shanghai or the circuit there,” said the FIA European F3 graduate.
“The track looks nice, especially the long right-hander first corner, it seems pretty cool. It’s always exciting to go to a new circuit, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”
Click here for an interesting take on putting new drivers in third cars.