Carlos Sainz has played down the factor his and Max Verstappen's rivalry might have played in Red Bull's decision to reshuffle its driver line-ups ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Eighteen year-old Verstappen will turn his first wheel as a Red Bull Racing driver in Spain this weekend after being promoted to the top tier team in place of Daniil Kvyat, who heads the other way to assume the vacant position in the Toro Rosso fold.
Though much of the attention has focused on Kvyat when justifying the changes, Helmut Marko went on to suggest that a fractious relationship between Verstappen and Toro Rosso team-mate Sainz was also factored into the decision.
However, though he accepts that both drivers had close moments on track, he rejects the assertion there are off-track issues between the two youngsters.
“I think the personal relationship Max and I have is not a big issue, honestly,” he contested. “I think we both always maintained the respect outside of the track and I think we showed it in every moment. I think it's more a matter of the team perspective, of how the team was working and that's where Franz Tost and Helmut Marko come to play and take the decision.
“From Max and myself there was always respect, there was always good vibes with each other. Obviously we were fighting a lot on track, we were always very, very close to each other and there was always some battles going on but they stayed on the track and out there it was just a matter of engineering, maybe just not being a comfortable team and that's why they decided to take these decisions internally.”
Discussing the impact of the changes on Toro Rosso itself, Sainz believes Kvyat coming back on board to the team he made his F1 debut with in 2014 has already sparked a positive reaction.