Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Carlos Sainz Jr. has spoken of his 'shock' at being passed over for a drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015 following Red Bull's decision to fast-track Max Verstappen to F1 instead.

The Red Bull junior was a strong favourite to secure a drive for the Italian outfit alongside Daniil Kvyat in 2015, but last month the STR race seat was announced as going to 16-year-old Max Verstappen instead.

Speaking to , Sainz admits he was surprised to have had that opportunity taken away from him given he has met Red Bull's notoriously difficult criteria by leading the FR3.5 for much of the season, whereas Verstappen is still in his first season of single-seater competition.

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"It was a shock," he said. "I just need to focus on myself and win the championship to prove to all the people who think I am not good enough, that I can be the first Red Bull junior to win the championship and youngest ever too."

"It was a big surprise for me. It was unexpected, especially when you are leading a championship but these things happen."

Nonetheless, the 19-year-old, who currently leads Caterham FP1 recruit Roberto Merhi in the Formula 1 feeder series, was remaining tight-lipped regarding his future, he maintains he still owes much to the Red Bull Junior programme for supporting him this far.

"I would not be in this championship if was not for Red Bull so I am thankful for that. It is a tricky situation."

Sixteen year-old Verstappen will become the youngest driver to race an F1 car when he makes his proposed debut next season, when he will have turned 17. He is currently second in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship.