Carlos Sainz Jr is to remain with the Scuderia Toro Rosso squad in 2017, after Red Bull Racing moved to take up his contract option.
In a bid to keep another of their promising young drivers under lock and key from the rest of the F1 paddock, the Milton Keynes based squad made no hesitation in taking up the contract option, after recent rumours linked Sainz Jr to a possible seat at Ferrari.
The Spaniard has performed well so far this year, and looks to have had a weight lifted off his shoulders since former team-mate and highly rated youngster Max Verstappen moved up to sister team Red Bull, following the 2016 Russian Grand Prix earlier this season. A strong showing at his home race in Barcelona, and admirable results in subsequent races, started people asking questions as to whether Sainz Jr should perhaps look to further his career elsewhere, after being overlooked for promotion by Red Bull bosses on a number of occasions.
However, Team Principal Christian Horner still certainly sees a future for the 21-year-old within the Red Bull stable, and confirmed the decision to take up the Spaniard’s contract option at a media event on Wednesday.
“We took up his option earlier this week so he is committed to Red Bull for the next 12 months – then we have the ability to place them where we want.
“He is currently at Toro Rosso and that is where he will be next year.”
When asked how Red Bull would accommodate Sainz Jr in the lead team, with current drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen contracted until the end of 2018, Horner did not elaborate, but looked like the cat that had got the cream when he mulled over Red Bull’s driver options for the forseeable future
“It’s a luxury issue really. We are set in RBR for the next two-and-a-half years so it is a luxury issue to have.”
Horner also alluded to Daniil Kvyat being likely to remain at Toro Rosso in 2017, despite recent friction between the Russian and Red Bull bosses, after he was relegated to the Faenza based squad to allow Verstappen a way through to a top seat.
“I think Dany Kvyat is continuing his development, he is finding his feet now and there isn’t an obvious candidate knocking on the door at the moment that would warrant that seat.”
It will be interesting to see how long Sainz Jr is willing to wait in the wings at Red Bull, before he has had enough and looks to advance his career with a team where he may really start to go places.