Toro Rosso confirms Carlos Sainz Jr. for 2015 F1 season

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Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. will be racing for the team next season alongside Max Verstappen, forming an all-rookie line-up for 2015.

Sainz won this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship in emphatic fashion, following in Kevin Magnussen’s footsteps by winning the title ahead of fellow Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly.

The Spaniard had originally missed out on a seat with Toro Rosso when the team confirmed that Verstappen would be racing for the team alongside current driver Daniil Kvyat.

However, when Sebastian Vettel announced that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, Kvyat was promoted as the German’s replacement, opening up a slot at Toro Rosso.

This opened up a four-way fight for the seat alongside Verstappen between would-be rookies Sainz, Gasly and GP3 champion Alex Lynn, or the option of retaining Jean-Eric Vergne for a third season.

Vergne was the favored option for Verstappen, who was keen on an experienced driver to help with his development in his debut season.

Nevertheless, in-keeping with its policy of pairing two rookie drivers together at Toro Rosso, Red Bull confirmed today that Sainz would be racing alongside Verstappen next year.

“I am really happy to have landed the drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso,” Sainz said. “Ever since I have been part of Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me.

“I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula 1. I tested for a day with Toro Rosso last year and I liked the atmosphere in the team.

“In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year. It will be nice to make my “official” debut as a Formula 1 driver in my home country!”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.