Toro Rosso confirm Carlos Sainz will partner Max Verstappen in 2015
Red Bull's junior outfit to field two debutants next season
By Pete Gill and James Galloway
Last Updated: 28/11/14 6:20pm
Toro Rosso have confirmed that Carlos Sainz will partner Max Verstappen in 2015.
The news follows the announcement on Thursday from Jean-Eric Vergne that he would be leaving the team and means that Toro Rosso, Red Bull's junior outfit, will field two debutants next year.
Sainz, a 20-year-old Spaniard who is the son of the rally World Champion of the same name, won this year's Formula Renault 3.5 Championship and drove a Red Bull at this week's Abu Dhabi test.
"Ever since I have been part of Red Bull’s Young Driver Programme, this has been my aim and I want to thank Red Bull for putting their faith in me," said Sainz. "I have had a very successful season in World Series by Renault this year and now I am looking forward to taking the step up to Formula 1.
"I tested for a day with Toro Rosso last year and I liked the atmosphere in the team. In the next few months I will be working hard on my preparation, ready to get in the cockpit in Jerez for the first test of next year. It will be nice to make my “official” debut as a Formula 1 driver in my home country!"
With an average age of less than 19, the all-novice partnership of Verstappen and Sainz will be one of the youngest in F1 history.
"This is very interesting," Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz commented. "What it means is that Toro Rosso, a team which is usually midfield runner are going into the 2015 season with two drivers who between them have done zero grands prix. Two rookies, and that is a big risk - especially when Verstappen is only 17 years old."
Since it morphed out of Minardi in 2006, the Toro Rosso outfit has been used as a breeding ground for the next generation of Red Bull drivers with both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo driving for the team before their graduation to the parent outfit.
"We continue the Toro Rosso tradition of providing youngsters from the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme with their first steps in Formula 1," acknowledged team boss Franz Tost as he welcomed Sainz to Toro Rosso. "I have watched Carlos progress through the junior categories, always improving as he moved higher up the ladder, culminating in a well-deserved win in this year’s World Series.
"However, I also remember the day’s testing he did with us at Silverstone in 2013 in the STR8. He really surprised me and his engineers that day, with his mature approach and his speed.”
The Silverstone test debut Tost mentions saw Sainz set the third-fastest time of the test, the lap within a tenth of Ricciardo’s best effort in the same car on the same day.
Sainz's success in this year's FR3.5 championship came at the end of his first full season in the category, the Spaniard having dovetailed a part year in the series with GP3 in 2013. He won the 2014 title by 35 points from fellow Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly, who was also linked to the second Toro Rosso seat.
Toro Rosso's announcement means that, with the futures of the Caterham and Marussia/Manor teams still uncertain heading into the winter, McLaren remain the only team yet to confirm their 2015 line-up. Fernando Alonso has agreed to join the Woking outfit from Ferrari with the team still deliberating whether Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen should take the second seat.
How the 2015 grid is shaping up:
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat
Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez
Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz
Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado
Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr
MARUSSIA (ENTERED AS MANOR F1 TEAM)