Being on loan from Red Bull to Renault feels “strange”, says ex-Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz.
Sainz, a member of the Red Bull driver development program was offered as compensation to Renault after they agreed to end their deal with Toro Rosso to take on McLaren as a customer.
Sainz was sent over to the French outfit before the end of the season and he drove RS17 in four races last year.
It is common for big manufacturers to leverage their customer teams to train their younger drivers. But a football style loan is uncommon in Formula 1.
Speaking with Motorsport, Sainz said: “I’ve not heard of many drivers who are on loan, it’s more of a football term.
“It’s a bit of a strange situation, I’m a special case at the moment. That’s why I can’t let it get into my head.
“I need to just do what I was doing at Toro Rosso, having a good race every time I go out on track, and then things fall for themselves like it did at Toro Rosso.
“Who would have told me when I was at Toro Rosso that this year I would be at Renault? No-one. It is a very special situation.”
The original deal between Red Bull and Renault has specified Sainz will be placed at the French team for one year and the Austrian outfit will reserve rights to recall the Spaniard for 2019. Sainz is Red Bull’s backup option in case Daniel Ricciardo’s decides to go to another team. If that happens, Sainz will get a shot at a Red Bull race seat for 2019, something he had been hoping for a long time.
But if Ricciardo decides to stay back with the Milton Keynes outfit, Sainz will get a chance to sign directly with Renault on his own terms.
“I’m trying to impress myself,” said Sainz. “By that I mean I’m really looking forward to having a full season with a team. I’m going to keep it open, keep performing the way I’ve been doing.
“Things will sort out for themselves, normally if you perform well good things are coming.”