Sainz focused on Toro Rosso, but wants top drive in 2018

Carlos Sainz says is fully focused on Toro Rosso for the 2017 Formula 1 season, but insists he wants to be in a top team in 2018.

Sainz focused on Toro Rosso, but wants top drive in 2018
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11

The Spaniard has been one of the men linked to the second Mercedes seat following the retirement of world champion Nico Rosberg after the end of the season.

Sainz has a contract to race for Toro Rosso in 2017, and while he admitted that the thought of replacing Rosberg has crossed his mind, he insists he remains fully committed to Red Bull.

Speaking during during a sponsorship event in Madrid on Monday, Sainz insisted Red Bull remains his main priority when it comes to landing a top drive in 2018.

"Who hasn't thought about that?" said Sainz of replacing Rosberg. "[But] I'm already fully focused on Toro Rosso and on having a third year that's as good or better than this.

"My first goal is to have a good 2017. I'm really looking forward to having a new car, with the team a little bit rejuvenated, with new rules, so I'll try to have a year as good or better than in 2016, which won't be easy.

"And from there, I'll try to open as many doors as possible to be in a top team.

"I hope that team is Red Bull, which would make me the most excited and it's what I would like most after three years at Toro Rosso, and if not, I'll try to open as many door as possible for 2018."

The Spanish driver admitted Rosberg's decision to quit after winning the title was surprising for him, as he cannot see himself retiring while he was winning.

"Personally I don't think I would do it. I hope one day I'm in that position," he added. "I like what I do so much and I have no much ahead of me that even if I won two or three titles I wouldn't want to retire.

"I see victory as something that makes you want more, like a drug. Every time I won in a lower formula I wanted to win more."

With Toro Rosso switching to Renault engines next year after using year-old Ferrari units in 2016, Sainz is hoping his team will not go through the same top speed struggles it had to endure this year.

"I'll know little about the new car until we get to the first test, even at the first race. It will be hard to know where we are.

"What I do hope is that the engine doesn't give us headaches and we don't have to think that we are losing 15/20km/h in each race. It's all I ask for 2017.

"I'm confident that Toro Rosso, having showed that it can build a good chassis, can take advantage of the regulation changes, knowing that we are not going to fight for the title, so we can fight for fifth place."

Additional reporting by Sergio Lillo

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