Marko: Sainz Jr. “the natural choice” for Toro Rosso

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has revealed that an impressive showing at the end-of-season test in Abu Dhabi secured Carlos Sainz Jr. a seat in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso for 2015.

It was confirmed on Friday that Sainz Jr., son of rally legend Carlos Sainz, would be racing for Toro Rosso next season alongside 17-year-old Max Verstappen, forming the youngest driver line-up in the history of F1.

Toro Rosso has traditionally been a proving ground for future Red Bull drivers, with Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat all racing for the team before stepping up to the brand’s main Red Bull Racing team.

Sainz won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship with ease earlier this year, but was still left in a four-way fight for the Toro Rosso seat. However, Marko revealed that an impressive showing in a test for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi this week helped the management to make up its mind.

“Carlos has been with the Red Bull Junior Team for a long time,” Marko said. “He’s had some ups and downs, but he convinced us by winning this year’s World Series title, and especially doing so with a record of seven wins. Nobody in the history of the series has matched Carlos in that regard. He’s matured a lot in the last two years.

“Of course, we were waiting to see how the championships were going, and then the test in Abu Dhabi in the Formula 1 car was the thing that really confirmed to us he was the right man for the seat.

“He had a very successful test this week. He did 100 laps, the speed was good and the technical feedback was good. He’s done everything we expected, so I’d say he was the natural choice.”

Sainz’s promotion does mean that Jean-Eric Vergne will leave Toro Rosso after three years at Faenza, with a test role at Williams reportedly a possible option for the Frenchman.