Carlos Sainz could yet leave the Red Bull programme at the end of this season, as Red Bull team principal Cristian Horner said he is available for the right price. Sainz and the energy drink firm have endured a tense couple of weeks together, as the Spaniard said that it was unlikely he would spend a fourth season at the junior team.
Sainz made his debut for Toro Rosso in 2015, partnering Max Verstappen. However, it was Verstappen who got the call up to the senior team last year, leaving Sainz at Toro Rosso with demoted Daniil Kvyat.
Reports claim that tension started to grow within the Sainz/Red Bull relationship from that stage, and the Spaniard has made it clear that he wants to start fighting for world championships. With Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen locked down at Red Bull, Horner revealed that there is a fair chance Sainz could leave.
"Sainz has a contract with Red Bull and there are two years left on that contract," said Horner. "We value him as an asset and an asset has a value. So if there was a desire from another team to have him, or for him to go somewhere else, something that has a value has to have a price attached.
"If somebody was prepared to make an offer, we would of course consider it. But it would need to have a significant value attached because we have invested in Carlos. We are not just going to give an asset away."
No Renault deal signed yet
During the British Grand Prix weekend, we reported a whisper that Sainz and Red Bull had already severed ties with each other and the 22-year-old would join Renault ahead of the 2017 season. Renault has since denied the suggestion, but admitted that they are interested in Sainz for a full-time drive in 2018.
Sainz revealed that he has held no talks yet with Renault: "Many people are coming to me about this rumour and for me it's just a rumour," said the Spaniard. "When not one single comment you receive from your bosses, who are actually managing your career, comes from them then you expect it to be just a rumour. I don't comment about rumours. I have not asked yet because I haven't had time to speak with them.
"After Austria we cleared everything, we clarified everything - what was said, what was not intending to be said. We explained to each other everything and [Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and I] were playing tennis yesterday, enjoying our time. We had a good time, the air is clear. I'm a Red Bull driver, inside the Red Bull programme, covering for Toro Rosso next year and looking forward to changing today's result in Hungary with Toro Rosso."
Head of driver development at Red Bull Helmut Marko said: "A lot is written in the media, but Carlos will be with Toro Rosso in Hungary. "And I am currently assuming that he will drive with us for the rest of the season."
"According to my current knowledge, Carlos Sainz is driving for us in Hungary," said Tost, the Toro Rosso team boss. "Carlos has a contract that expires in two years," added Horner of Red Bull Racing. "If some other team wants him and wants to make us a serious offer, we are ready to consider it. But I doubt this will happen by Hungary."