Carlos Sainz says it leaves him smiling when being compared to Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen and is relishing the resumption of their in-team battle in F1.

The Spanish driver enjoyed a successful rookie F1 campaign alongside fellow debutant Verstappen at Toro Rosso and despite out-qualifying his team-mate he ended the year with less than half the amount of championship points (Verstappen notched up 49 to Sainz Jr 18).

Sainz did however suffer more than his fair share of reliability woes with his Renault power unit which denied him a number of point-scoring opportunities in 2015 and finished the season 15th in the F1 standings, while Verstappen narrowly missed out on the top ten on his way to a trio of FIA awards including Rookie of the Year, Personality of the Year and Best Action for his move on Felipe Nasr at Spa's Blanchimont corner.

Sainz says he treats any comparisons with Verstappen as a compliment and hugely admires the teenager both on and off the track.

"We have been very close," Sainz said in an interview with James Allen on his official website. "This is very positive for me because people rate him so highly and if he really is as good as everybody says he is - and I personally think he is very good - this means that I must not be very far off. It puts a smile on my face to see that I am on a level and up there. Every time we have both had the same chance with the same reliability."

Sainz, who also says his favourite F1 venue was Japan's Suzuka which he loved along with Silverstone and Spa, will be preparing for winter testing with Toro Rosso as the team switches to year-old Ferrari engines for 2016. Sainz is optimistic for the season ahead as he aims to consolidate his place in F1 after a productive maiden campaign.

"If I look at my personal performance, I am confident and optimistic. I always give big steps in winter and I made another big step last year, so I am confident. I just cannot wait to see the car Toro Rosso is building for us," he said.