Christian Horner has made it clear to Carlos Sainz that he will spend a fourth Formula 1 season at Toro Rosso in 2018, after the Spanish driver said it was "unlikely" he would do so.
Speaking in the FIA Press Conference on Thursday, Sainz, when asked about his future said: "My number one target is to be with Red Bull next year and start fighting for podiums, wins or whatever they are fighting for next year."
If that doesn't happen, a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely and I am not going to close the door to opportunity."
Sainz's dream of racing in F1 for Red Bull is slim. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who was promoted to the senior team ahead of Sainz last season, are under contract for 2018, and it is unlikely either of them will jump ship.
Moreover, no driver has ever spent more than three seasons at Toro Rosso. They have all been either dumped off the Red Bull programme or promoted to the senior team.
Sainz is in demand, having comprehensivly out-performed Danill Kvyat in their time together, and also doing a stellar job against Verstappen in 2015, which included out-qualifying the Dutchman over the 19 race season.
Sainz is being "disingenous"
Speaking to Sky F1 after the end of First Practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, Horner said: "We've excercised his option as well, so he is under contract. We have an option on him for next year and the year after, so he'll be in a Toro Rosso again next year.
"You have to remember that he only got an oppotunity to be in F1 because of Red Bull investing in him in the junior years, and it is a little disingenous to be making comments like that when a lot of investment goes into these guys to give them the opportunity.
"Without Red Bull, he wouldn't be sitting in an F1 car" concluded Horner.
The Red Bull boss also ruled out the possibility of Sainz being effectively loaned to the works Renault team, saying "Toro Rosso are ahead of Renault at this point in time, and doing a good job, and it wouldn't make senin a se to loan him out."
What do Red Bull do with Sainz?
The only way Sainz will race at Red Bull in 2018 is if third cars suddenly become a thing.
Horner may be right to criticise Sainz for wanting more, after all there are plenty of drivers who would want to be in his situation, but Sainz is bound to get itchy.
He knows it is a crucial time in his career, and, with full respect to Toro Rosso, he needs to be in winning equipment as soon as possible.
It is unlikely that Red Bull will allow Sainz to go to Ferrari, seeing as the two teams are closely matched on track, without hefty compensation, while McLaren is not a viable option, at the moment.
Renault does seem to be Sainz's best route into a, evantual, front-running car, but then there is Robert Kubica hanging around, not to mention current race driver, Jolyon Palmer.