Carlos Sainz says if Toro Rosso continues its 'surprise' chassis gains and Renault can produce strong power units he feels the team could reach as high as third in the F1 world constructors' championship with the regulations revamp causing a shake-up.
The Spaniard has re-signed to the Red Bull fold for next year and will stay with Toro Rosso or 2017, having played down rumours linking him to a trade to Renault as part of its new engine deal, and is relishing the team's opportunities next year.
The Italian squad has made considerable gains over the past couple of seasons with credit being paid to the team's aerodynamic and chassis developments which have outperformed its midfield rivals.
Sainz is confident if Toro Rosso can get on top of 'small details' and enjoy similar performance gains Red Bull has seen this year thanks to Renault's power unit developments it can maintain its upward progress.
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Toro Rosso currently sit sixth in the F1 world constructors' championship – but is expected to drop off with no further power unit improvements with year-old Ferrari engines – and Sainz says the team is already targeting fifth in 2017.
However, with the regulation changes opening up aerodynamic rules plus the wider and fatter Pirelli tyres, Sainz predicts there might be a huge shake up in the competitive midfield order which Toro Rosso could profit from.
“We keep talking about this P5 in Championship, but next year, everything we said, we could well be 8th or 3rd, so we need to stay calm and wait until next year to see where we are,” Sainz told Crash.net
. “Hopefully Renault will keep making the steps and we have a decent power unit. We are struggling to find that at the moment.
“The car that they produced in the last two seasons from the chassis side has been a surprise to everyone and many people are impressed about it. So it's just now a matter of sorting out all the small details to become an even better team and I think we can do that next year.”
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Toro Rosso's best-ever F1 championship finish came in 2008 when it claimed sixth with Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais. The Italian squad currently sit sixth but hold a slender three-point advantage over McLaren with nine races to go.
Sainz has climbed to 11th in the drivers' championship thanks to a run of six points finishes in the last eight races.
Catch the full exclusive interview with Carlos Sainz Jr on Crash.net this weekend.