There could be more than meets the eye to the re-signing by Red Bull of Carlos Sainz for 2017.
Reports in recent days, backed by comments by Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost and Red Bull’s Christian Horner, have suggested the energy drink brand will definitely take up the one-year option in 21-year-old Spaniard Sainz’s contract.
Those reports were initially interpreted as a rejoinder to speculation that Renault is eyeing Sainz as a potential race driver for the French works team for 2017.
But Marca, a Spanish sports daily, thinks Sainz is still in the frame at Renault. Actually, the newspaper said a deal between Sainz and Renault could be formalised within two races.
The current negotiations, Marca claims, are between Renault and Red Bull.
Currently, Renault supplies customer engines to Red Bull that the team rebrands as Tag-Heuer. The report suggested selling Sainz to Renault could be part of a deal to improve the engine deal terms.
Marca said Renault boss Frederic Vasseur met Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko in Baku.
Marko admitted in an interview with Brazil’s Globo that other teams have expressed interest in Sainz.
“He has a contract with us,” he said. “The best option is to keep working as he has done with STR, keep developing with the team and become even more competitive next year.”
As for Renault, Marko insisted he is happy with Red Bull’s engine supplier.
“In 2015 I was not smiling because we had no chance, and mostly not because of us,” he said.
“Now Renault is giving us a good engine, we will soon have an even better version and – most importantly – a completely new engine for 2017.
“I am sure that we will fight for the title,” Marko added.