Chrisitan Horner is adamant that Carlos Sainz will be racing for Toro Rosso in 2018 after the Spaniard declared it was unlikely he would be sticking around for a fourth season on Thursday.
Sainz joined the Red Bull junior team in 2015 alongside fellow debutant Max Verstappen. When Verstappen got a Red Bull call up in 2016, Sainz was forced to watch his former teammate leap into the senior team where he remains today.
"It's still a long season ahead and these rumours will always come," Sainz said in Austria. "My target number one is to be with Red Bull next year and start fighting for podiums, wins or whatever they are fighting for next year.
"I'm going to keep pushing for this. If that doesn't happen a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely and I'm not going to close the door to any opportunity. I'm definitely ready to take a step forward in my career. I'm not closing any doors."
Christian Horner, who is the team principal of Red Bull, doesn't see Sainz anywhere else but Toro Rosso next season: "I don't know where he thinks he'll be then," responded Horner to Sky Sports F1. "Contracts are clear.
"Carlos Sainz is under contract. We've exercised his option so he's under contract and we have an option on him for next year and the year after. He'll be in a Toro Rosso again next year. You have to remember, he only got a chance in Formula 1 because of Red Bull investing in him in the junior years.
"It's a little bit disingenuous to be making comments like that. A lot of investment goes into these guys to give them the opportunity. Without Red Bull he wouldn't be in a Formula 1 car."