Sainz hopes Alonso can ‘fall back in love’ again

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA: Car­los Sainz has plenty of am­bi­tions of his own for 2017 but the young Spa­niard also hopes to see friend and com­pa­triot Fer­nando Alonso fall back in love with For­mula One af­ter years of frus­tra­tion.

The 22-year-old, start­ing his third sea­son with Toro Rosso, knows how important a year it is for the dou­ble world cham­pion he first met as a young karter when the now 35-year-old was win­ning with Re­nault.

Alonso, who came close to a third ti­tle with Fer­rari, will be out of con­tract with for­mer champions McLaren at the end of the year and has said he will de­cide his fu­ture af­ter the sum­mer break.

“I be­lieve what he says about tak­ing a de­ci­sion later in the year. I be­lieve, be­cause I know him and have talked to him, that he is very ex­cited about this sea­son,” Sainz said in an interview on the sec­ond day of test­ing.

“He is re­ally want­ing to fight even if it is for P3s (third places). He’s go­ing to fight for it, and I’m con­vinced that then he will take a de­ci­sion,” he added.

“I also think that he needs to fall in love with F1 again.

“I think he was a bit dis­ap­pointed with how F1 had been in the last four or five years and I think he needs to fall back in love with it and then his com­ments will be a lot more pos­i­tive. So hope­fully this car helps do that.”

The im­me­di­ate signs did not look promis­ing, with Alonso hav­ing to sit out most of Mon­day morn­ing due to an oil sys­tem prob­lem and Bel­gian team­mate Stof­fel Van­doorne side­lined for much of Tues­day with en­gine prob­lems.

Alonso man­aged just 29 laps on Mon­day, com­pared to world champions Mercedes who put in 152, and Van­doorne did 40 on Tues­day.

McLaren have not won a race since 2012 and have strug­gled for re­li­a­bil­ity and per­for­mance in two sea­sons with Honda. Alonso has also been vo­cal against the need to save fuel and tyres in re­cent years.

He re­vealed to re­porters last week at the launch of his new McLaren that he was con­tacted by Mercedes af­ter world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg’s sud­den re­tire­ment in De­cem­ber, and Sainz said he had been too.

“I’m not go­ing to lie, they asked about my con­tract sit­u­a­tion with Red Bull but Red Bull were fully clear that I had a con­tract signed for them for 2016 and the fu­ture. So there was noth­ing else go­ing on,” he said.

In two sea­sons Sainz has earned a de­served rep­u­ta­tion as a man to watch, a ta­lent on the radar of teams big­ger than Toro Rosso.

He recog­nised that one day he would have to de­velop his ca­reer else­where, with Toro Rosso prid­ing them­selves on bring­ing through young ta­lent, but like fel­low Real Madrid fan Alonso he would not be con­sid­er­ing his op­tions un­til af­ter the sum­mer.

“I told (prin­ci­pal) Franz (Tost) and the whole team: ‘Look, it doesn’t mat­ter what you read in the press or hear in the pad­dock’,” he said.

“I am so com­mit­ted to Toro Rosso for this year and I am will­ing so badly to do well this year with Toro Rosso that I re­ally don’t care of my fu­ture. We will have time over the sum­mer and in the sec­ond half of the sea­son.”

Sainz said he was con­vinced that, with a de­cent chas­sis and a switch from an old Fer­rari en­gine to the lat­est Re­nault, the tar­get of fifth over­all in the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings was achiev­able for the Italy-based team.

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