Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz has previously credited two-time world champion Fernando Alonso as his mentor, who helped him get into Formula 1 in the first place.
But these days the two Spanish drivers have more often found themselves in fierce on-track competition for position. It seems that little quarter has been given on either side for old time’s sake.
The 22-year-old says there’s nothing personal in their on-track encounters, adding that he’s still learning a lot from his compatriot.
“It’s definitely a great learning situation for me for the upcoming years,” Sainz explained.
“It’s like battling for a win,” he suggested. Normally Fernando should be battling for wins. We are battling for the win of the midfield with a double world champion, and probably the best driver of the grid.”
There was a particularly hard-fought scrap during the final race at the Hungaroring before the summer shutdown. The pitched battle between the pair was finally decided in the McLaren driver’s favour.
“It was a very tough task to defend from Fernando, as he was much faster than us,” Sainz recalled. “In the end he got past us.
“I did learn a lot of stuff,” he added of the race as a whole. “It’s my third year and you never stop learning.”
Hungary wasn’t the first time that the pair have clashed on track during a Grand Prix weekend. The pair tussled earlier in the year in China with Sainz coming out on top on that occasion.
Last year the climax of the US Grand Prix was enlivened by a thrilling duel between the paid. The following week Alonso criticised Sainz for a “strange” move that forced him onto the grass on the opening lap of the Mexican race.
Sainz said such incidents were naturally to be expected across a season. He felt that there was undue focus on his clashes with Alonso because of their shared nationality.
“The mentally of the people when they look at it, yes because they are both Spanish, one is the mentor and the other is the kid learning from him,” he said.
“They want to spice it up. But I battle with him like I battle with any other driver on the grid.
“Yes, he might be a bit better than others,” he acknowledged.
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