It may not have been the season finale he was hoping for but Carlos Sainz is not letting his crew’s disastrous mistake that ended his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix prematurely sour his feelings about his 2017.
The front left tyre of Sainz’s Renault was mounted incorrectly during a pit stop early in the race and it almost came off as he drove off into the tunnel and nearly hit the wall.
But the Spaniard, who finished ninth in the drivers’ championship after a year that saw him get dropped from Toro Rosso and picked up by Renault in October with just four races left in the season, feels positively about 2017 and is optimistic about what’s to come.
“It was coming a really nice race, very good pace, so I cannot be disappointed by the outcome,” the 23-year-old told Sport360 on Sunday night at Yas Marina Circuit.
“I think it’s just a human mistake that things happen in Formula One, we all do mistakes once a year. No hard feelings.
“We just need to be very pleased about how we prepared this last race, the pace that both cars had in the race and during the whole weekend and be happy about that.”
Both Renaults were indeed in good shape over the weekend and Sainz’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg secured an impressive sixth place on Sunday, despite receiving a five seconds penalty for running off the circuit to pass his ex-team-mate Sergio Perez of Force India.
Sainz scored a P7 in his first race with Renault at the US Grand Prix last month and his best finish of the year came with Toro Rosso when he finished fourth in Singapore.
The Madrileño feels he has got a decent head-start on 2018 thanks to the four races he got with Renault in the last few weeks.
“It’s given me a big advantage to have these four races, to know the car, to know the systems, to know the team, my engineers. It’s been fundamental for next year,” he had said on Saturday.
“That means that in testing we can start focusing already on car performance and not so much on me adapting to a car or to a team. So that’s going to be encouraging to know that and it’s going to give us a big advantage for next year.”
He’s also proud of his top-10 finish in the championship and is raring to go further in 2018.
“I think that first of all to finish P9 in the drivers’ championship shows that this year has been a very positive year for me,” he added. “It also wasn’t easy because I had to switch teams three quarters into the season and I think we adapted very well.”
Sainz admits though that it will still take him some time to get completely comfortable with the car.
“With so many changes we do through laps, qualifying, with so many different characteristics that each car has, with torques, etc… I haven’t found my baseline yet,” he confessed.
“Brazil was a good step forward but I haven’t found exactly what I need to do to drive this car. I’m still thinking doing a qualifying lap what I need to do to go faster through this corner, through the other… it doesn’t come naturally yet. So until we do a bit of testing and a good consecutive tyre sets this will come so I’m not worried.”