UPBEAT ABOUT 2017: Despite being overlooked by Red Bull Racing, Carlos Sainz is looking forward to 2017. Image: AP / Jens Meyer
London - The quiet achiever in Formula 1 says he is looking forward to shining again in 2017.
Carlos Sainz began the season alongside Max Verstappen, performing well until the latter was called up to replace Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull.
Many, however, believe that Sainz would have performed just as well if it had been him who got the promotion.
Nothing to choose
Sainz told Auto Motor und Sport: "When we were together at Toro Rosso, there were only a couple of tenths between us. Sometimes the pendulum was with him, then it swung back to me.
"We were more or less at eye level."
READ: Sainz Jnr eyes Verstappen-like promotion
So while Verstappen got the boost to the front of the grid, Sainz was left at Toro Rosso, who have increasingly struggled with a 2015 Ferrari engine that is not being developed.
Sainz admits: "Put it this way: it's certainly not an advantage. McLaren (Honda) has made up ground and on tracks like Spa and Monza, we will find it hard."
Staying in F1
The good news for Sainz is that he is definitely staying in F1 - with Toro Rosso - for 2017.
The admitted: "It's a good feeling. Especially so early in the season. I know from personal experience how nervous you feel if you are not confirmed. And I really look forward to a third year at Toro Rosso."
READ: Can Sainz make jump to Red Bull?
Sainz is confident about 2017, in part, because Toro Rosso is stepping up to full 2017-spec Renault power next year.
He said: "When you see the progress Renault has made in the last few months, then I'm really confident."