Sainz Jr: 2016 form won't help 2018 talks
18 March 2017 – Carlos Sainz Jr. says his eye-catching performances over the course of the 2016 campaign will be irrelevant to Formula 1 teams when they are deciding their respective 2018 line-ups.
Sainz Jr. emerged as one of the sport's rising stars with an impressive 2016 season, and was courted by Renault, though Toro Rosso secured his services for another campaign, warding off potential suitors.
Nico Rosberg's exit opened a vacancy at Mercedes, though "Red Bull was very clear with them" about his contract status, Sainz Jr. said in an interview with the official F1 website.
The contracts of several drivers expire at the end of 2017, meaning there could be vacancies at Ferrari and McLaren, while Valtteri Bottas only has a one-year deal with Mercedes.
The Spaniard insists he will have to perform at a high level once more, but stressed that securing a top seat in 2018 is low on his list of objectives for the moment.
"It is something that I thought about last November – and I did an analysis and pictured it," he said when asked about several contracts expiring at the end of 2017.
"But once the season gets started the only thing that helps you be in a good position at the end of 2017 is to push like hell!
"You are only as good as your last race and nobody will remember what you've done in 2016.
"When a contract arrives at the end of 2017 it is not thanks to my 2016 performance.
"I swear I haven't thought about the end of the 2017 season.
"This season is so important – but is would be so stupid for me to think about the end even before it has started, or how I would approach Red Bull, if Ferrari arrives, or Renault arrives – or Mercedes!
"It is not going to happen unless I deliver this season."
Toro Rosso, which took seventh last year, has repeatedly targeted a top-five classification in the Constructors' standings, and Sainz Jr. believes the switch to current-year Renault power units will help.
"Every year we want to finish fifth in the championship," he said.
"This year there is a high chance, or a higher chance, because we do not have the disadvantage of the [year-old Ferrari] power unit as we had last season.
"And I believe the team has delivered the good chassis and aerodynamics from the previous years."
Sainz Jr. will continue alongside Daniil Kvyat in 2017.