Carlos Sainz admits that he was very surprised to hear that he would be leaving Toro Rosso after the Japanese Grand Prix, leaving for Renault to see out the remainder of the season. Sainz will race full-time with the French squad in 2018.
The Spaniard revealed that he only found out about the agreement half an hour before it was made public. He will be replacing Jolyon Palmer, who announced on Saturday that he was parting with Renault, having raced for them since the 2016 season.
"I actually knew about half an hour before the announcement so it was quite unexpected from my side," Sainz said. "A big surprise like for you guys! My manager let me know that Cyril [Abiteboul] had told him."
When asked about what his feelings were after finding out, he said: "Not many, because I was so focused on today that I didn’t realise it. When I went to bed I was happy because I knew it was a good chance for me to adapt to the car a bit earlier than we expected, to get to know my engineers, the team, the mechanics a bit earlier. I liked it, although I was not very emotional or happy because I was so focused on the weekend that it was difficult to take the mind out of that."
Sainz started his last race for Toro Rosso at the back of the field, and ended it in the barriers, as he pushed too hard on the opening lap of the race. The 23-year-old said he has no regrets as he was attempting to make up places for the team.
"Today was very simple, we started on the soft tyre and there was less grip than I was expecting,” Sainz explained. "We wanted to gain places at the start because in a one-stop race there’s not much going on. I tried to risk it. Normally it works but today it didn’t and I went around the outside of Turn 6, found a lot more dust, a lot more dirt than I was expecting and I had a snap and lost the car. So nothing to regret, obviously no regrets. I was pushing hard for the team at this last race. I needed to risk at the start and it didn’t work."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing