Carlos Sainz Jr has admitted that he lost touch with Red Bull after his loan move to Renault and the Spaniard feels that is the reason why he was not given the vacant seat at the team next year.
“I am convinced that in 2016 and 2017 that if there was a gap at Red Bull then l would have got it but Ricciardo and Verstappen were fixed,” Sainz told Sky Sports.
“Then l left for Renault, and had a very good year, but inevitably l lost a bit of touch and Red Bull didn’t have as much information, so they went for the safe option with Gasly, which l fully back because he is a great driver and deserves the Red Bull chance.”
Sainz did save his F1 career as he was snapped up by McLaren as a replacement for his senior Spaniard and mentor, Fernando Alonso, who retires at the end of the year. Any driver who is bypassed for a promotion is expected to be bitter but not Sainz.
He remained grateful for the experience and stability that Red Bull gave him with their junior team, Toro Rosso.
“My first year at Toro Rosso in 2015 was a good year, but in 2016 l scored three times as many points in a car that was actually a bit worse than the 2015 car, and then in the third year, 2017, I did an even better year and it gave me the passport to go to Renault,” Sainz said.
“Just by having a second year in the same team, in the same car, with the same engine, same mechanics, it allows you to find the little tricks of the car, the differences that mean you are able to extract the final two tenths [of a second].
“It allows the whole team to come together. That’s why stability is important. It really helps you perform.”
Red Bull are known for their junior driver programme and it could reach its peak next season if Daniil Kvyat does rejoin the grid with Toro Rosso. It would mean that seven of their academy graduates would be on the grid, albeit for different teams.
The seven drivers will be Vettel [Ferrari], Verstappen and Gasly [Red Bull], Ricciardo [Renault], Sainz [McLaren] and Hartley and Kvyat [Toro Rosso].