Carlos Sainz Jr. is braced for a tough second half of the 2016 Formula 1 season as Toro Rosso’s rivals begin to pull ahead in the engine development race.
Toro Rosso struck a deal to use 2015-spec Ferrari power units in 2016 after a tumultuous year with Renault, intended to offer a pace advantage in the early part of the year.
Renault will supply Toro Rosso once again from 2017 after making big strides through the off-season, giving Red Bull (Toro Rosso’s parent team) a performance boost on-track.
While other teams have benefitted from ongoing engine development, Toro Rosso finds itself standing still with its 2015 power units, the pace gap becoming clear in recent race weekends.
“We are not going through our best moments at the moment,” Sainz conceded.
“Since Hockenheim and the last race in Spa it looks like it’s taking us a lot more effort to get close to the top 10. Spa was kind of expected; Hockenheim not so much, but we are definitely not where we want to be.
“In theory we think were prepared for the performance drop-off of the engine in the second half of the season but it has been maybe a bit more than expected, so now there is a lot work going on in Toro Rosso, a lot of analysis, a lot of testing coming up in free practice to try to turn around this bit of a bump we are going through.
“I still have full confidence. [At] Spa, it would have been nice to see what we could have achieved after being P7 at the start, but it’s how it is sometimes.”
Sainz was asked about the change in atmosphere at Toro Rosso since Max Verstappen’s move up to Red Bull and Kvyat’s switch in the opposite direction.
“My teammate has changed but my approach and my attitude to work, to Formula 1, is exactly the same,” Sainz said.
“The team, internally, had a bit of a reshuffle but it was all in a good direction. I think we can be happier with the first half of the season of Toro Rosso.
“We will see how the second half goes but it’s going to be tough for us. We need to make sure we put everything in our hands to keep McLaren in our sights.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult because they’re already ahead but it’s going to be tough but we’re going to try our best.”