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Red Bull would not let Carlos Sainz Jr. join Mercedes F1

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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.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.