Carlos Sainz Jr. is unlikely to stay with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Formula 1 beyond the end of 2017 as he bids to move up the grid and secure a top-line seat to progress his career.
Following an impressive run of form throughout 2016 and a strong start to the current season, Sainz has been linked with a number of top drives for next year.
The Spaniard has been part of Red Bull’s program for the majority of his career, but a move up to its senior F1 team seems unlikely as both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen look poised to retain their seats for 2018.
Speaking about his future during Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Sainz said that his main goal was to secure a seat with Red Bull in the future, but added he would look elsewhere for 2018 if a drive did not come up.
“It’s still a very long season ahead. Obviously rumors are always going to come at this stage,” Sainz said.
“As you all know, my target number one is to be with Red Bull next year, fighting for podiums, wins, or whatever they’re fighting for next year. And I’m going to keep pushing for this.
“If that doesn’t happen, a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely, and I don’t want to close the door to any opportunity.
“I’m definitely ready to take a step forward in my career. I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready.
“As I said before, I’m not closing any doors, and we will see.”
Sainz confirmed he was aware of the speculation about his future, yet he stressed the importance of doing his talking on-track.
“There are obviously rumors going around the paddock I heard. Silly season, as you all name it, it’s good fun, but for me the good fun is actually here on track,” Sainz said.
“Up until now it has been a really good season, and we will see. I’ll leave that to other people in my team.
“For me, I have a job to drive a car and do it as fast as possible.”