JANUARY 23, 2017

Sainz snr says Red Bull not bad guys

Carlos Sainz's father has hit back at any claims Red Bull are "the bad guys".

Carlos Sainz's father has hit back at any claims Red Bull are the bad guys.

The two-time rally champion's namesake and 22-year-old son had a great 2016 season, but Sainz jr was overlooked for a promotion to Red Bull Racing in deference to Max Verstappen.

Then, Red Bull refused to relinquish his contract following an offer from the Renault works team, while preliminary talks with Mercedes about Nico Rosberg's seat also faltered.

But Sainz snr, 54, told Spanish radio Cadena Ser: "We are talking like they (Red Bull) are the bad guys and it's nothing like that.

"We owe them a lot. The most important thing is to focus on 2017," Sainz snr added, referring to his son's forthcoming third consecutive campaign for Toro Rosso.

When asked about 2017, 22-year-old Sainz answered: "Mercedes is still the reference and we'll see about Red Bull.

"McLaren should take a leap and fight with Ferrari," the Toro Rosso driver predicted.

Sainz also talked about his own preparations for 2017, in readiness for the much faster generation of cars.

"Now is the part of the season when I'm most tired. I've been training for three weeks because I need to take a step physically," he said.

"The design of the car I really like -- it's a real F1 car," Sainz insisted.