Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz says his car has margin for improvement as it heads into the last race before the midseason break.
The junior Red Bull team is eighth on the constructors championship table despite racing what is regarded a competitive all-rounder car, while Sainz is fifteenth in the drivers standings and one points behind teammate Max Verstappen.
Sainz, however, says unreliability has masked the team’s true potential by robbing it of points throughout the first half of the season.
“Unfortunately, STR should have more points than we have at the moment,” said the Spaniard. “I think my position and STR’s position in the championships reflect where we should be because of all the mechanical failures, but we are here to recover from that and show what our actual potential is.
“I have had two retirement from the points in the last two races and a couple more of them at the beginning of the season, so we should be much further ahead with the job that we have been doing so far.”
The Toro Rosso car has been praised for its efficient aerodynamic design, which has enabled it to rival big-spending senior team Red Bull Racing on occasion, as well as substantiate claims that it is a contender for the second-best chassis on the grid — though Sainz admitted it isn’t without its weaknesses.
“Chassis wise there’s two things: the aero and the mechanical grip.
I believe aero-wise we are in very good shape. When the corner is in fifth gear, sixth, seventh, and eighth, we are one of the best downforce cars on the grid for sure.
“Then you have the mechanical grip, where we’re not so good. I feel we still have a margin for improvement.
“For example, with teams like Williams or Ferrari, in high-speed corners we can match them or be better than them, but in low-speed corners we are the same or a little bit slower.
“We have very good downforce, but I think on the chassis side we for sure have a margin for improvement.”
The Hungaroring is a slow-speed circuit with little in the way of straight lines and loaded with tight corners, which Sainz believes will largely suit the profile of his STR10.
“I think it for sure it should be one of the good ones,” he said. “We have a competitive package here.
“We saw in Malaysia that we didn’t work so bad in the heat, and it looks like it’s going to be quite warm; and there aren’t so many straights, so we should lose less time compared to Silverstone.
“But on the other side there’s a lot of mechanical grip corners, there’s a lot of 130 or 140 kilometre-per-hour chicanes that we will use to check where we are.”
Toro Rosso recorded decent results at the Monaco Grand Prix, which is run on a circuit with a similar profile to the Hungaroring. Sainz qualified eighth, though could finish only tenth, but thinks the result nonetheless is reason for optimism.
“I think we should take Monaco as a reference that we are strong — but probably not as strong as what we thought we were, probably because of those mechanical things.
“I think top 10 should always be our target, but we’ll see how far into the top 10.”