With the Spaniard moving on, we look back at five of his top drives for STR.
Scuderia Toro Rosso announced on Saturday they were releasing Carlos Sainz Jr after the Japanese Grand Prix.
Sainz will race for the Renault Sport Formula One team from the USA Grand Prix onwards with Daniil Kvyat partnering Pierre Gasly at STR.
Here, we look back at five of the Spaniard’s best drives since his debut for the team in 2015.
In Carlos Sainz Jr’s first grand prix, all the talk was about his teenage teammate Max Verstappen as many questioned the 17-year-old’s eligibility to be on the grid at such a young age. Engine trouble meant Verstappen did not even make the chequered flag while his Spanish teammate drove a mature race to make it into the points on debut in ninth place. Sainz admitted afterwards he had hoped for better having qualified in an impressive eighth place making thereby earning raised eyebrows for both Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers at the season start.
A crash at turn four meant Sainz did not set a qualifying time and had to get special dispensation to start the race from the back of the grid. But a flurry of incidents in front of him saw him surge up to 10th place by the end of lap one from 20th. He continued his climb up the order to finish in sixth place overall but a five-second post-race penalty – dished out for speeding in the pit lane – cost him a place to Jenson Button but still his best result of an opening season in the sport.
When the Scuderia Toro Rosso failed to get anywhere near to Q3 at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, his pace and position in 15th on the grid suggested a difficult 71-lap race lay ahead at Interlagos. But then the heavens opened up, causing a concertina effect on the field and Sainz was able to show what he was capable of. The Spaniard scythed through a litany of cars in front of him, thanks in part to a decision to keep him on the extreme tyres rather than an early switch to the intermediates. Afterwards, he said: “I love the rain, I’ve always been strong in the wet.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso had been two seconds off the pace at the preceding race in Spain but Sainz conjured up a magical lap in Monaco to park in sixth place after qualifying without any major new parts on the car. It was a position he maintained to the finish matching his previous best in the sport. All the more impressively, sixth place was achieved despite Lewis Hamilton breathing down his neck a place back in seventh for much of the latter part of the race. It was perhaps no surprise that Sainz later described it as “the perfect weekend”.
Just days after it was announced that Sainz’s time at Scuderia Toro Rosso was coming to an end with an impending switch to Renault, he pulled off the highest race finish of his career, just missing out on a podium spot in fourth place. Sainz was helped by a stunning start to a chaotic race in which he charged his way past Sergio Perez, Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Ocon. Forced to defend his position on super soft tyres while others chasing were on ultra soft tyres, Sainz understandably described it as the best race of his career. He added: “We finished fourth, which is incredible, unthinkable.”