Carlos Sainz Jr. will drop three places on the grid at the next Formula 1 race in Russia after being deemed responsible for a crash with Lance Stroll during Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sainz and Stroll crashed at Turn 1 on Lap 11 at the Bahrain International Circuit, with both drivers laying blame with one another for the collision.
Replays showed Sainz exiting the pit lane and taking to the inside of the corner, with Stroll trying to take his usual racing line before the pair came together.
After speaking to both drivers and analyzing the video footage of the clash, the stewards deemed Sainz to have been at fault, resulting in a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix on April 30.
“The Stewards heard from Carlos Sainz, the driver of car 55, Lance Stroll, the driver of car 18 and the team representatives, reviewed the video evidence which showed that car 18 was on the normal racing line, car 55 left the pit lane and made a very optimistic attempt to pass car 18 into the corner,” a statement from the FIA stewards reads.
“The Stewards decided that the driver of car 55 was predominantly to blame for causing the collision in violation of Article 27.4 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.”
The crash caused both Stroll and Sainz to retire from the race, and marked the third round in a row that the former had failed to see the finish.
Valtteri Bottas saw his hopes of taking a maiden Formula 1 victory in Bahrain on Sunday fade as tire pressure issues limited the Finn to third place at the checkered flag.
Bottas scored his first pole position in F1 on Saturday in qualifying, edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.023 seconds with his best lap.
Bottas retained his lead through the first stint of the race, but was unable to pull away as he struggled to manage his rear tires, creating a train of cars behind.
Bottas lost the lead after a slow pit stop, and ultimately had to let Hamilton pass him twice on-track to allow the Briton a shot at winning the race, leaving the ex-Williams driver third come the finish.
“It was a really tricky race for me, struggling with the pace all through the race. I think the first stint we found a bit of an issue with the tire pressures, that explains the rear end struggle,” Bottas said.
“But after that I was just rear limited and out of the tools on the steering wheel. It was just oversteering all through the race and that’s where the pace was slow, which is a real shame because for sure the target for today was a lot higher.”
Bottas admitted that he was disappointed to have been asked to let Hamilton pass him on two occasions in the race, but conceded that it was for the good of the team as it tried – and failed – to stop Sebastian Vettel winning for Ferrari.
“I’m a racing driver, so being told to let your teammate through is the worst thing you can ear. But there was potential for Lewis to catch Sebastian, so I understand the team’s decision,” Bottas said.
“Personally it’s hard, but what I have to find out is why we didn’t have the pace today.
Carlos Sainz Jr. said his Toro Rosso engineers thought he was “completely mad” to start Sunday’s Formula 1 race in China on slick tires, only for the gamble to aid him en route to P7 at the finish.
Rain in the lead-up to the start in Shanghai prompted the majority of the field to start on intermediate tires, with parts of the track being wet on the installation laps to the grid.
Sainz opted to roll the dice and start on slicks, and although he dropped to the very back of the order on the first lap, conditions soon became perfect for dry tires, forcing the rest of the field to pit.
Sainz battled through to finish seventh, coming home behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers in a surprise result for Toro Rosso.
“What a race, I just don’t have words to describe it! On the grid I said I wanted to start the race on slick tires and everyone thought I was completely mad!” Sainz said.
“It sounds like a funny moment now, but when everyone took the blankets off the tires and my race engineer told me that we were the only ones the supersoft tire I doubted my decision.
“When you’re on the grid, about to start a race, and you take a tough decision like today’s, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, knowing that you might have blown away a good result for the team… but I then said to myself: ‘Come on trust yourself, it’s the right thing to do!’
“I knew the start and the first four corners were going to be very tricky – and they certainly were! – but from Turn 6 onwards the track was fully dry and I felt confident – the gamble definitely paid off!
“But today’s result isn’t only thanks to this decision; it’s also down to the pace that we showed in damp conditions. After the safety car, I saw myself catching Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in front and I got super excited.
“It was just an incredible race, I felt so comfortable in the car today and to finally cross the line in P7 is a great result – I’d like to thank the team for the whole weekend, we can all be very happy!”
The result sees Toro Rosso rise to fourth place in the constructors’ championship ahead of fellow midfield rivals Williams and Force India.
Scuderia Toro Rosso continued to battle away in Formula 1’s midfield last year and offered glimpses of a team that could move up the pecking order – but once again ailed to P7 in the standings.
Carlos Sainz Jr. remains one of F1’s brightest young talents, while Daniil Kvyat managed to recover from his Red Bull demotion and mid-season plight to bounce back later in the year.
With a young, dynamic driver pairing and a car with noted similarities to the offering from defending champion team Mercedes, can Toro Rosso move up the field this year?
26. Daniil Kvyat (Russia)
55. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spain)
Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Renault R.E.17 (may be rebadged)
Franz Tost (team principal)
James Key (technical director)
What went right in 2016: Despite winding up seventh in the constructors’ championship and missing out on the elusive top-five dream, Toro Rosso had a pretty decent 2016 by most accounts. Following the decision to switch to year-old Ferrari power units, (wrongly) believing them to be better than current-year Renault offerings, to only score four less points than 2015 was good going. Carlos Sainz Jr. was a shining star yet again, and was unlucky not to hit the podium. Daniil Kvyat bounced back after his mid-season demotion and looked more collected come the end of the year, back to his former self.
What went wrong in 2016: Yet again, Toro Rosso failed to break into the upper end of the grid. The team seems to head into every year targeting a top five finish, and always falls short. It was the third year in a row the team had finished seventh, despite having a solid design team and two quick, young drivers. It was a good effort from what is a B-team, yet still some way off what is really possible.
What’s changed for 2017: The most noticeable change for Toro Rosso is the livery. Gone are the traditional dark blue and burgundy colors that made it a challenge at times to tell the cars apart from the Red Bulls. Instead, a slick blue, silver and red livery has been introduced, which has proven to be a real hit. Toro Rosso has kept a hold of technical guru James Key, who noted that his STR12 design was similar to that of Mercedes’ W08 car, while Sainz and Kvyat return once again.
What they’ll look to accomplish in 2017: The same thing the team looked to accomplish last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year befo- you get the idea. Yes, a top-five finish will be the target this season. The return of on-year power units from Renault means that Toro Rosso will no longer fall far behind in the later stages of the season, so this should give Sainz and Kvyat more of a chance to fight at the front. For Sainz, the battle will be to impress the top teams so he can get a bigger seat; for Kvyat, his mind will probably be on survival once again with Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings.
Luke Smith: If the mantra of a pretty car being a fast car is true, then Toro Rosso should sweep to both titles this year. Somehow, I think that won’t be the case. Toro Rosso can definitely get in the mix in the midfield, perhaps even with the likes of Force India and Williams. The STR12 looks good, and the comparison to Mercedes of massive interest to the paddock. With the right car, Sainz has a chance to make his name this year much as Sebastian Vettel did with Toro Rosso in 2008 – and maybe Kvyat can remind the world that he has the makings of a very competent grand prix racer.
Tony DiZinno: The livery’s flashy, the lineup’s solid, and the James Key-penned car looks sorted for most everyone’s favorite B-team in Scuderia Toro Rosso. With the livery shift and the retention of the ridiculously good Carlos Sainz Jr. along with the experience of Daniil Kvyat, there’s a festive flair around Toro Rosso that they’re finally poised to emerge from Red Bull’s shadow. I could see an outside shot of a podium happening at least once, with a handful of top-fives and consistent top-seven or eighth-place finishes helping propel the team into the top six, potentially top five, on the grid.
Kyle Lavigne: Scuderia Toro Rosso appear to have a solid chassis, though reliability with Renault’s power unit is a big question mark. Still, one the big storylines with this team is its driver lienup, as Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat retain their seats, but both could be on thin ice. Toro Rosso has a history of moving on from young drivers who are underperforming. While Sainz Jr. did well to finish 12th in the 2016 driver’s championship, buoyed by two sixth-place finishes in the final four races, he would do well to consistently challenge to be in Q3 of qualifying along with being a regular points scorer. For Kvyat, he’ll need to rebound from a terrible 2016 season that saw him demoted from the Red Bull ‘A team’ to its ‘B team’ five races in. If he struggles in the same he way he did in the second half of 2016, Kvyat’s days as a Formula 1 driver could be numbered.
Sainz focused on 2017 duties at Toro Rosso, not ’18 seat rumors
Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is not thinking about a possible move away from Toro Rosso for 2018, instead preferring to focus on his current duties with the team in Formula 1 this year.
Sainz has impressed during his two years in F1 so far with Toro Rosso, giving the highly-rated Max Verstappen a run for his money while they were teammates in 2015 and the early part of 2016.
The Spaniard’s performances have led to speculation that he could be due to move away from Red Bull’s B-team in F1, and was even linked with the vacant Mercedes seat following Nico Rosberg retirement last December.
Sainz admitted that he was looking at 2018 last winter, but is now fully focused on his commitments at Toro Rosso ahead of the new F1 season.
“But once the season gets started the only thing that helps you be in a good position at the end of 2017 is to push like hell!
“You are only as good as your last race and nobody will remember what you’ve done in 2016. When a contract arrives at the end of 2017 it is not thanks to my 2016 performance.”
Sainz’s future opportunities under Red Bull’s F1 umbrella seem somewhat limited given senior team drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are both locked in to long-term contracts, suggesting his next step in F1 may lay outside of his current parent team.
For now though, Sainz isn’t thinking about what he would do if the call from a big name rival came.
“This is a combination of decisions between Red Bull and myself, and a combination of interests,” Sainz said.
“I still don’t think about it! I swear I haven’t thought about the end of the 2017 season. This season is so important, but is would be so stupid for me to think about the end even before it has started, or how I would approach Red Bull, if Ferrari arrives, or Renault arrives, or Mercedes.
“Because it is not going to happen unless I deliver this season.”