Carlos Sainz admits there is a sense of relief that the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season is coming to an end as Toro Rosso prepares to ditch its year-old Ferrari engine, even if he feels the detriments of his package have earned him greater praise for his efforts.
Despite a competitive turn by both Toro Rosso and Sainz in 2016, the hampering effect of its ageing Ferrari power unit has told in the latter half of the season.
Reaching speed traps some 10-15kph slower than their rivals, though the strength of the taut STR11 chassis has kept Sainz in the midfield mix throughout the season, with Toro Rosso switching back to up to date Renault power for 2017 the Spaniard admits he is already looking towards next season.
“As a driver you don't like going into a race knowing you're 15kph down on straights and knowing you can't overtake a guy. In a way I'm looking forward to finishing the season and having something more decent to fight with next year.”
Nevertheless, though Sainz is frustrated by the drawbacks of the engine, he feels it gives his top six performance in two of the last three races added prominence.
“In a way it's been such a good season for me that I don't want it to finish because I'm performing at a high level at the moment and I don't want to stop racing because I just feel I have the momentum with me.
“We keep performing, race by race with my engineers, my mechanics. It might not look like it at P10 or P12 but when I'm on track I feel comfortable, in a good moment and I don't want it to finish and be three months without doing a race. On the other hand I want something better to fight with next year.”