Carlos Sainz has singled out fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso as one of the most influential figures in his rise to formula one.
Although former Toro Rosso teammate Max Verstappen was promoted ahead of him in 2017, Sainz is also highly rated and was earlier linked with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes seat for 2017.
Red Bull, however, refused to let him go, while Sainz told the Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 that he feels 2016 was a very good year in his career.
“It was a very good year,” he said. “Everything went very well and I took a very important step forward in my sporting career in 2016.”
And Sainz, 22, said he credits a lot of his rise to prominence in F1 to his friend and countryman Alonso.
“Fernando mentored me since I was 15,” he said. “It helped me a lot. Perhaps without him, I would not be here today. I owe him a great deal.”
The young Spaniard was also asked about the spectacular crash suffered by his famous namesake and father in the Dakar rally recently, saying it was a “relief” when he phoned to say he was unhurt.
And Sainz jr also revealed that he is training particularly hard for the 2017 season, because the tyres will be grippier and the cars significantly faster and more physical to drive.
“It meant that on New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t party as hard as I did in other years, but you have to make these sacrifices every once in a while,” he smiled.