SPIELBERG, Austria — Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. should not get his hopes up too much about driving for Red Bull — or any other team — next year.
The Spanish driver said earlier this week that he wants to drive for Red Bull in 2018 and, if he does not get an opportunity there, then somewhere else.
Toro Rosso is the feeder team for Red Bull, which effectively owns his contract.
“First of all, this is not (his) decision. He has a Red Bull contract and Red Bull decides what he will do in the future,” Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said. “I’m a little bit confused about this discussion at this stage of the year because Red Bull has paid and financed the complete career of Carlos… Why should Red Bull give him away to any other opponent?”
In separate comments to British broadcaster Sky, Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner said the team retains an option on Sainz Jr. for the next two years — but that “he’ll be in a Toro Rosso again next year.”
Horner reaffirmed that the Red Bull driver lineup will still be Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo next year.
He also backed Tost’s view that the 22-year-old son of two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz appears to be getting ahead of himself. Horner felt Sainz’s comments about potentially moving away from the Red Bull-Toro Rosso setup in 2018 sounded ungrateful.
“You have to remember that he only got an opportunity in F1 because of Red Bull investing in him in the junior years,” Horner told Sky. “It’s a little disingenuous to be making comments like that when a lot of investment goes into these guys to give them the opportunity.”
Ninth overall in the championship with 29 points and a best finish of sixth, Sainz Jr. is a clear distance ahead of his Toro Rosso teammate, Daniil Kvyat of Russia, who has scored only four points.
Sainz Jr. wants a bigger challenge and feels he has outgrown Toro Rosso.
“I’m definitely ready to take a step forward in my career,” he said on Thursday. “I’m not going to close the door to any opportunity.”
A fourth season driving for Toro Rosso looks more likely.