SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) Carlos Sainz Jr. sees his future on another Formula One team and hopes Red Bull will give him a chance to show what he can do.
The Spanish driver is clearly confident he could make the move up from feeder team Toro Rosso to Red Bull in 2018, if chosen.
''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,'' he said Thursday. ''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.''
Ninth overall in the championship with 29 points and a best finish of sixth, Sainz Jr. is a clear distance ahead of his Toro Rosso teammate, Daniil Kvyat of Russia, who has scored only four points.
Sainz. Jr - the son of two-time world rally champion Carlos Sainz - wants a bigger challenge and feels he has outgrown Toro Rosso.
''I'm definitely ready to take a step forward in my career,'' he said. ''I have got to the point now where I feel confident with the team, with the car. Every time we have finished, we've been in the points.''
Asked which other teams he would consider driving for, Sainz Jr. - who turned down Renault this season - was evasive.
But a move to Red Bull would reunite him with teen driver Max Verstappen, his Toro Rosso teammate in 2015, when they made their F1 debuts together.
''It was good fun, definitely,'' Sainz Jr. said. ''I wouldn't mind repeating it.''
Verstappen left Toro Rosso in dramatic circumstances in May last year to join Red Bull.
With no forewarning, Red Bull suddenly ditched Kvyat and made a bold move for the Dutch teen - who then won the Spanish GP on his Red Bull debut to become the youngest ever winner of an F1 race at 18 years old.
Verstappen has not looked back since and is now widely considered the future star of the sport. Verstappen, whose current teammate is the Australian Daniel Ricciardo, joked that Red Bull would need ''three cars'' in 2018 to make room for Sainz Jr. next season.
But he would clearly be happy having him as a teammate again.
''I don't know how it is with the other contracts, we need to wait and see,'' Verstappen said. ''I'm pretty sure, sooner or later, we are both racing in competitive cars, together. I don't know which team.''