Carlos Sainz 'unlikely' to stay at Toro Rosso for 2018 F1 season
Highly-rated Spaniard linked with McLaren, Renault and Williams
Last Updated: 12/07/17 5:24pm
Carlos Sainz says it is "unlikely" he will remain at Toro Rosso for the 2018 season as speculation intensifies about the youngster's future.
The highly-rated Spanish driver has consistently impressed during his three-year tenure at Red Bull's junior outfit but a promotion to the parent team is currently blocked by the long-term tenancy of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
"My number one target is to be with Red Bull next year, fighting for podiums and wins. I am going to keep pushing for this. If that doesn't happen, a fourth year at Toro Rosso is unlikely," said Sainz.
Red Bull insisted earlier this month they expect both Ricciardo and Verstappen to stay for next season and clarified that neither driver had an opt-out clause in their contracts. But paddock gossipers continue to speculate that Ricciardo and Verstappen are contenders to replace Kimi Raikkonen if the Finn leaves Ferrari at the end of the season.
Sainz has also been linked with Ferrari for 2018 along with Renault, Williams and McLaren.
"I am not going to close the door on any opportunity," he said. "I am definitely ready to take a step forward in my career. I am ready. I am not closing any doors and we will see what happens."
Sainz is a close friend of his boyhood idol Fernando Alonso and one possibility for 2018 is that Sainz will replace his compatriot at McLaren next season.
"Toro Rosso is a nice team to start, they help you through your career but McLaren is another level," Alonso told Sky Sports F1 in Baku.
"Right now, we are not competitive, but McLaren will always be McLaren, at some point they will be on the podium, in the top five, they will always be there. After three difficult years, good times will come, I don't know how good or if McLaren will win the champions in five or ten years, but you have a bigger opportunity than at Toro Rosso.
"So if Carlos has the opportunity, I will always support that."
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