Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr says his squad needs to take advantage of bigger teams’ current mishaps by piling up points during the early races of the season, including this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has enjoyed a steady F1 debut so far, as he secured two top-ten finishes in as many races.
With team-mate Max Verstappen also scoring his maiden points at Sepang, the Faenza-based outfit currently sits fifth in the Constructors’ standings, ahead of title-winning organisations Red Bull and McLaren.
Although both Renault-powered STR10s edged out the two sister RB11s fair and square in Malaysia, Sainz believes Toro Rosso is actually racing other rivals on Sundays.
“I think at the moment, there is a very interesting fight between Sauber, Lotus, and us,” said the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion. “When Red Bull fails, or when they are struggling like they are at the beginning of the year, they’re with us. But obviously I expect them to be in front for the upcoming races.
“It’s a bit like McLaren. In the end, these teams should be in front. We just need to use this opportunity, when they fail, to be ahead of them.”
While Sainz thinks more established teams will eventually move up the pecking order, he remains determined to capitalise on their difficult start and is pleased to see Toro Rosso perform so well.
“Toro Rosso has done a very good job to drive around all the problems with the power unit in the first race and in Malaysia to use the step forward to be up there. The car mechanically and aerodynamically feels really nice to drive.
“But again, this is just the beginning of the year. A lot of teams with a bit more experience and budget will go up. Our target is to use this opportunity to build up a lot of points, like Force India did last year.”
Click here for Chris Medland's Chinese Grand Prix preview.