He feels satisfied after testing for the very first time the softest tyres
Barcelona, March 4th 2016.- Formula One’s pre-season testing has come today to an end at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and Carlos Sainz played a major role in its finale by setting the second fastest time of the day and the fastest lap of Scuderia Toro Rosso this winter.
This morning, the team made some little tweaks at the set-up of the STR11 before starting a work routine with the softest tyres, which Carlos hadn’t almost tried before. The Spaniard skyrocketed up to second place using two sets of softs, two of supersofts and finally two of ultrasofts. Thanks to his 1’23’’134 lap, he held on to that position until the chequered flag.
Later in the afternoon, the team went back to its usual routine with a race simulation. Carlos completed it in three long stints plus a fourth one that was long too, but faster than the previous ones. A good way to say farewell to two weeks of intense winter training in Barcelona.
Carlos ends winter testing as the fifth fastest driver on the grid, with the seventh fastest lap of the eight days. He has driven in four of them, in which he completed a total of 515 laps, equivalent to 2.397 kilometers in which the Faenza-based team proved to be very reliable. He only suffered a gearbox issue that limited his running on the first day. With 1049 laps, Toro Rosso is second to Mercedes in laps completed. Plus, there are only three teams that were faster than Toro Rosso in their qualifying simulations.
These are Carlos’ impressions after he jumped out of the car:
Q: What's your balance of 2016 pre-season?
"I feel very happy about this pre-season. I feel comfortable in the car. The feeling is good and its behavior was nice when we used the softest tyres for the first time. We have to remain cautious because we don’t know our rivals’ fuel loads. I look forward to the Australian Grand Prix, I feel ready after this good pre-season".
Q: How was your day?
"Another good day for the team and for myself. We were able to test all tyre compounds, especially the ultrasofts. It was fun to move away from the medium and test this compound, to be honest.
Q: How did the ultrasoft feel?
We were quick, but that means nothing because we don't really know our rivals' fuel loads. Rather than lap times or the final result, I prefer the confidence I've gained with the car and its reliability, although I did improve my times with each stint. We now head to Melbourne feeling confident but taking nothing for granted.
Q: Do we have to bet for the 55 this year?
Yes, you should bet for it. I'll try to pay back your confidence. It's been a good test, both the first and the second week. It's been phenomenal. The team has done what was necessary for us to be on track and do as many laps as possible. The same goes to Ferrari, they have helped us a lot. Very few issues from the engine side, so we must thank them for that and congratulate them because the job they did was incredible.
Q: What do you have to say about STR11's reliability?
Reliability used to be our Achilles heel. It's true that now it's much better, but we still have to confirm that improvement in a race. We must keep this good trend and enjoy a year without all the problems we had in 2015. I am sure this would help us score more points.
Q: Where will you be in Melbourne?
I have no idea. I hope I am in Q3, which is our target, but we won't really know until Qualifying starts.
Q: Last year you scored points in your debut. The bar must be very high.
"Yes, but we will fight to be there. We desire to be in Q3 and in the points, but archiving that will be hard and will only depend of us.
Q: What has changed since 2015?
"I think we're in much better shape now. Both me and the team head to Melbourne better than we did in 2015, but we'll see how the others arrive. We'll see in Melbourne, but I'm sure we will be fine. When you work well like we did in this test, you gain the confidence needed to do well later in Melbourne.
Q: Is it crucial to perform very well in the first races?
"We carry with this sort of responsibility to do it well in the first half of the season, because it may be that the other engines improve like they did in 2015. We know we'll stay where we are now, so now we have to push to the maximum.
Q: What do you think of the new Qualifying?
"I think it won't change much. I just hope that televisions can really explain to the fans how the new system works. I think it won't be easy at first".
Beginning today, Formula One will start its long trip to the Antipodes. On the upcoming March 18th the Australian Grand Prix will begin in the always challenging and semi-urban circuit of Albert Park. Carlos Sainz will begin there his second season in the pinnacle of motorsports.