Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is not thinking about a possible move away from Toro Rosso for 2018, instead preferring to focus on his current duties with the team in Formula 1 this year.
Sainz has impressed during his two years in F1 so far with Toro Rosso, giving the highly-rated Max Verstappen a run for his money while they were teammates in 2015 and the early part of 2016.
The Spaniard’s performances have led to speculation that he could be due to move away from Red Bull’s B-team in F1, and was even linked with the vacant Mercedes seat following Nico Rosberg retirement last December.
Sainz admitted that he was looking at 2018 last winter, but is now fully focused on his commitments at Toro Rosso ahead of the new F1 season.
“It is something that I thought about last November, and I did an analysis and pictured it,” Sainz told the official F1 website when asked about his future.
“But once the season gets started the only thing that helps you be in a good position at the end of 2017 is to push like hell!
“You are only as good as your last race and nobody will remember what you’ve done in 2016. When a contract arrives at the end of 2017 it is not thanks to my 2016 performance.”
Sainz’s future opportunities under Red Bull’s F1 umbrella seem somewhat limited given senior team drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are both locked in to long-term contracts, suggesting his next step in F1 may lay outside of his current parent team.
For now though, Sainz isn’t thinking about what he would do if the call from a big name rival came.
“This is a combination of decisions between Red Bull and myself, and a combination of interests,” Sainz said.
“I still don’t think about it! I swear I haven’t thought about the end of the 2017 season. This season is so important, but is would be so stupid for me to think about the end even before it has started, or how I would approach Red Bull, if Ferrari arrives, or Renault arrives, or Mercedes.
“Because it is not going to happen unless I deliver this season.”