Carlos Sainz Jr. is unlikely to spend a fourth year racing in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in 2018, with a move outside of the Red Bull programme likely if he cannot move up to its senior team.

Sainz made his F1 debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso, and has enjoyed an impressive stint with the team, picking up six points finishes from eight races so far in 2017.

The Spaniard's performances have led to speculation that he could move up the grid for 2018, but a jump into a Red Bull seat may prove difficult given the current standing of both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

While Sainz is happy within the Red Bull setup and wants to race for the senior team, he admitted on Thursday ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix that he would look elsewhere if he could not take either Verstappen or Ricciardo's place next year.

"It's still a very long season ahead. Obviously rumours are always going to come at this stage," Sainz said.

"As you all know, my target number one is to be with Red Bull next year, fighting for podiums, wins, or whatever they're fighting for next year. And I'm going to keep pushing for this.

"If that doesn't happen, a fourth year in Toro Rosso is unlikely, and I don't want to close the door to any opportunity.

"You never know what's going to happen in such a long season, we're still in race nine, I don't know.

"But yeah, I'm definitely ready to take a step forward in my career. I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready.

"As I said before, I'm not closing any doors, and we will see."

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