Carlos Sainz has given the clearest indication yet that Toro Rosso will be using Ferrari engines next season, saying the team will be 'more Italian' in 2016.
The Spaniard brought his rookie season in F1 to a close in Abu Dhabi by just missing out on the points in 11th position, though he ran as high as seventh early on and was comfortably faster than highly-rated team-mate Max Verstappen for much of the weekend.
Indeed, in a season that has been blighted by the lion's share of the reliability problems in the team, Sainz is nonetheless destined to retain his place in the team alongnside Verstappen, though their positions will only be confirmed once Toro Rosso's future is assured.
As it stands, Toro Rosso – much like its Red Bull sister team – is officially without an engine, though both are set to be on the grid next year with differing deals.
Red Bull has stated it will be able to confirm its engine shortly, with an unbranded, self-developed version of the Renault power unit set to be the choice, but Toro Rosso looks set to be paired with Ferrari.
Though Sainz refused to mention Ferrari specifically, he indicated he was happy with the 'more Italian' choice relative to the current Renault power unit.
“I think it is looking better for next year,” he said. “We might have a bit more horsepower which would have helped at the beginning of the race to hold onto the good start! We can't say the name yet but maybe we will have a more Italian team…
Indeed, Sainz feels Toro Rosso stands to make big strides in 2016 beyond the engine choice based on the lessons learned this year, while he is pleased to have received positive feedback from management too.
“Helmut Marko is very pleased. He is very positive about me, about the team and I think he is a bit surprised about the season and how much we are fighting Red Bull when we had the chance. I can say he has given me some positive feelings
“It can only get better and I have full trust that Toro Rosso will have a step forward in terms of reliability, pit stops, mechanical grip. I think we have a good chance for next year.”