Carlos Sainz Jr. May Not Be at Toro Rosso Come 2018, Marko Says

At least one team has tried to snatch Sainz from the Red Bull organization.

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Carlos Sainz Jr. is fed up with waiting around for a vacancy at the senior Red Bull team. Interested in a more competitive seat, he's ready to leave Toro Rosso behind and drive for a team that will fight for more than the occasional points finish. His contract runs through 2019, but Red Bull has indicated that they will sell him off, provided a satisfactory offer lands on their doorstep. 

But just how big that offer might need to be is the question of the hour. Word has it that Renault has set their sights on Sainz—and according to Grand Prix, it has already made a pass at Sainz, but Red Bull declined Renault's "good offer."

Dr. Helmut Marko may yet know of other teams that are interested in Sainz, however. "I would not be surprised to see him at another team," Marko said to Canal F1 Latin America, "because I know what his contract is. But only we can make it possible."

Rumors of a potential move to McLaren have circulated since June, with Fernando Alonso's future with McLaren in doubt over the Honda partnership that has damned the skilled Spaniard to three seasons of racing at the back of the field. Some link Alonso to a full-time IndyCar seat next year—and if Alonso were to leave, McLaren have stated that they already have a Plan B lined up for that contingency. With Alonso's affirmation of a desire to stay if the engine situation improves, however, and the escalating talks between McLaren and Renault, the Spaniard may yet not leave McLaren come year's end, even if the team stays with Honda.

With the McLaren link iffy at best, and no opportunity to move to any of the top three teams, Sainz's best hope is Renault, who has already tried to buy him. But given Red Bull's declination of the first Renault offer, the team will either have to dig deeper into their wallet or look elsewhere for their second 2018 driver. (That elsewhere may be Robert Kubica, but let's not get our hopes up.)

If even a big-budget factory team is seeing its offers snubbed by Red Bull, however, Sainz may have to prepare himself to put the Toro Rosso overalls on for another year. Few midfield teams, desperate for talent, can afford the sum that Red Bull is probably demanding for their protege.