Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has rubbished the idea of letting Carlos Sainz Jr. join rivals Mercedes as the search continues for Nico Rosberg’s replacement.
Sainz was named as a possible candidate for the vacant seat at Mercedes following Rosberg’s shock announcement, with the Spaniard currently racing for Red Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso.
Sainz remains under contract with Toro Rosso for the 2017 season, but with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo locked in at the senior team for the foreseeable future, it looks unlikely that he will be able to move any higher within the Red Bull setup.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Horner said that Red Bull would not consider letting Sainz go, believing him to be too valuable to its current operation.
“Why would we do that?” Horner said when asked if Red Bull would consider letting Sainz go.
“Carlos has done a great job. He is a Red Bull driver. We have invested in him to get him into F1 and they are all on long-term contracts.
“So it wouldn’t make any sense to feed one of your main opponents with one of your assets.”
Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas are currently leading the race for Rosberg’s seat despite neither having won a grand prix.
However, Horner believes that the true quality of the drivers would only become clear once given a top seat, with the likes of Ricciardo and former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel flourishing after spending time towards the back of the field in the early part of their F1 careers.
“You give these guys a chance. Let’s see what people can do in a front-running car,” Horner said.
“If they did take Wehrlein or Bottas, both are probably both capable of running right at the front.
“You just don’t know until you give them the chance, which is what we did with Sebastian Vettel, and Daniel Ricciardo.”