Carlos Sainz could yet leave Toro Rosso at the end of the year, despite a firm contract with Red Bull says Helmut Marko.
Earlier this year, the 23-year-old said he aspired to a change in order to move forward an F1 career which he says is stagnating.
Sainz was reminded however by Helmut Marko that racing anywhere outside the Red Bull family next season would not happen given his binding contract with the energy drink company.
Marko acknowledged however that he would consider an offer from another team, with Renault a possible candidate interested in Sainz's services.
But the current and complex discussions involving McLaren, Renault, Honda and Toro Rosso could possibly also see the Woking-based outfit take on Carlos Sainz as a result of the Spaniard finding himself at the center of the negotiations between the four interested parties and part of a subsequent compensation package.
However, rather than severing ties with Red Bull and moving on to what he considers greener pastures, Sainz could also remain in the energy drink's bull pen and loaned out for a year to either Renault or McLaren.
We'll admit however that the second prospect would only materialize if Fernando Alonso decides to throw in the towel, an eventuality the two-time world champion appears reluctant to do.
An Alonso-Sainz all-Spanish line-up at McLaren would look sharp, but with Stoffel Vandoorne already contracted for 2018, it will remain in the realm of fantasy for now.
When asked about Sainz's 100 per cent Red Bull contract for 2018, Marko told Canal F1 Latin America: "It's difficult to talk about 100pc in Formula 1.
"I would not be surprised to see him at another team. Because I know what his contract is.
"But only we can make it possible," the Red Bull official added.