MEXICO CITY, Mexico- Alain Prost believes the arrival of on-loan driver Carlos Sainz has filled a void at Renault following the Spaniard’s promising debut at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
Four-time world champion Prost, who is a Renault advisor, backed team boss Cyril Abiteboul’s assessment of Sainz’s performance as “remarkable”.
Sainz, the highly-rated son of former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, finished seventh after switching teams from Toro Rosso following the Japanese Grand Prix.
“He did a remarkable job,” said Abiteboul. “It’s not easy to change teams in the middle of a season. There have been previous circumstances when things have not happened that way in other teams in the history of F1.”
Prost, who helped guide Sainz through the weekend of his first experience racing for a factory works team, said he felt his arrival had filled “a big hole” in their plans.
“It’s always a small risk when you change a driver in the middle of the season, but it was exactly what we wanted,” said Prost.
“Unfortunately, we had a problem with Nico (Hulkenberg) so we had to get Carlos in the points and if you want to build something, you know you can’t have a big hole somewhere.
Sainz replaced Jolyon Palmer in the team, the Briton having struggled to make a consistent impact.
“It’s not being rude with Jolyon, but we are constructors and we need to have everything not perfect, but better.
“We know we have a lot to do still.”
Sainz, who is under contract with Red Bull until 2020, has been loaned to Renault until the end of next year.
Prost said the team decided to switch drivers to boost their bid to finish strongly in the constructors’ championship.
“In this situation, we don’t have all the keys, but the market is very open next year,” he said. “We are lucky to get Carlos, because we wanted him, but we don’t have him for the long term so we have to be careful. We are in a building period now.”
The six points scored by Sainz in Austin enabled Renault to move within five of sixth-placed Toro Rosso.
“It was close to a perfect weekend for me,” said Sainz. “A great weekend – thanks to the whole team for making me feel so much at home from the start.”