Carlos Sainz says he is fully focused on helping Renault climb up the grid, and says it would be “very stupid” to start talking about a potential move to Red Bull next season.
Since Red Bull agreed to let Sainz join the Renault team on loan, rumours have been rife that Sainz is in pole position to replace Daniel Ricciardo in 2019, should the Australian opt to leave Red Bull. Sainz though dismissed any suggestions that he’s already thinking of moving on from the Enstone team.
“I think there are no more secrets in my contractual situation at the moment, but honestly, it would be very stupid talking about 2019 especially when 2018 hasn’t even started,” he said.
“The vote of confidence that Renault has put on me deserves 1005 focus on this project, and I’m working as if I’m going to be here forever, so I’m not even considering 2019.
After two and a half years with Toro Rosso, Sainz earned a reputation as one of F1’s hottest talents, but still sees boyhood hero Fernando Alonso as his benchmark. With McLaren now running a Renault power unit, Sainz is excited about the prospect of fighting Alonso further up the grid in 2018.
“I’ve been fighting Fernando for the three years that I’ve been racing in Formula 1 surprisingly. I didn’t expect that because unfortunately, he hasn’t had the right tools to fight for world championships, but to fight with him further up the grid will be more than welcome,” he said.
“It’s a dream come true to always be competing against him, and every time I’m out on track with him I’m learning, so I’m looking forward to having more battles.”
Sainz believes Renault must make another significant step to pull away from the midfield this year, and despite a stop-start first week of testing, he believes next week will show that the team has made progress over the winter.
“I think [Renault’s gap to the frontrunners] was about 1.5 seconds last year on average, so this year we want to be closer than that, and I’m convinced the team has the capabilities of doing so,” Sainz says.
“Our car [is not very] representative [at this test] to what it’s going to be for the rest of the year, or even next week, when the temperatures come up, but what I’m going to find next week I’m convinced will be very different.