The departure of James Key would be a blow to Toro Rosso, according to Carlos Sainz.
Although Briton Key recently played down rumours he is being coveted elsewhere in pitlane as he has a long-term contract, the rumours are swirling once again this weekend in Austria.
Asked if that worries him, Spaniard Sainz – who is staying at Faenza for a third consecutive season in 2017 – answered: “Of course, because James plays a key role in the team.
“For me he is one of the main assets of Toro Rosso,” he added. “So if he goes, it would be bad news for us,” he added.
Told, however, that one scenario is that Key might be promoted to Red Bull and that he could join him, Sainz laughed: “Of course, I would not mind that at all!”
After the race, Sainz Jr was expressed cheerfulness to take an eighth place finish in Austria following a race of mixed fortunes for the Spaniard on Sunday.
“I’m very pleased with my race today, especially because we didn’t have an easy one!” said Sainz. “We started from the back and did a good start, managing to get into the top 10 in the early stages of the race.
“Suddenly, after the second pit-stop during the Safety Car period, we were nearly last… Which meant we had to do a very good last stint on the Soft tyres – 35 laps – overtaking lots of cars and managing to get back into the top eight, something a bit unexpected after seeing myself back in P15 with half the race to go.
“After a tough Saturday, I’m happy to finish the weekend with a good result as we’ve worked very hard for this – now we just need to make sure we have better Saturdays in order to start races further up the grid and fight for more points.
“I’m confident we can do it and I look forward to next week’s race weekend in Silverstone – my favourite track together with Spa – where we will keep pushing!”