F1: Toro Rosso needs to score early in 2016, says Sainz

Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz (right) and Max Verstappen (left) will need to take advantage of their new Ferrari power early in the 2016 season.

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says he was relieved that Scuderia Toro Rosso was finally able to confirm its Ferrari deal -“ but the Spaniard is concerned the team could be left behind as others develop their newer engines over the course of the season.

At one point, Sainz says he was worried about the team’s future after doubts were expressed about Red Bull’s commitment to Formula One.

"They were very small thoughts," Sainz told FOX Sports. "Honestly I always had a lot of trust, a lot of belief, that the thing was going to be solved really soon -“ even though it wasn’t very soon, but soon enough.

"I am relieved that now we have a solid platform to work on next year. I think it will be a step forward. Having a full Italian team will also help. I think there will be good relationships -“ from what I know they really enjoyed the time when Ferrari was there. I think everything is very positive for next year."

The downside is that STR’s 2015-spec engines are likely to be unchanged over the course of the season, while all the other manufacturers will be making steps as they use their tokens. Sainz says the team knows it has to make the most of the early races.

"This is the main thing, that probably the first half of the season will be the most important for us, when we need to maximize what we have," Sainz added. "The second half will be a bit more difficult, obviously. Especially after looking at this year, there was a lot of in-season development.

"Also, we noticed with Renault that we had the same power for the full season. Toro Rosso at the beginning of the season was up there, and then little by little, we went backwards. So it will be all about maximizing the first half, I think."