Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has stressed that Carlos Sainz Jr. remains "very firmly" a part of the team's future plans despite being loaned out to Renault for the 2018 season.

As part of Toro Rosso's split with Renault for next year in order to pick up a Honda engine supply, Sainz will join the French manufacturer's works F1 team on loan, remaining under Red Bull's F1 umbrella.

The move is seen to be a back-up plan for Red Bull should either Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen leave at the end of next year, with both drivers out of contract for 2019.

Horner stressed that Red Bull could not simply give its drivers away, stressing the need to retain an option on Sainz in the future.

"We’ve had a lot of requests for a lot of our drivers and it seems to change on a daily or weekly basis," Horner told Sky Sports.

"When the music stops it will become clear but we need to be patient.

"They are not available, they can be loaned out or rented but they can’t be given away. That is something that won’t be happening.

"If anything happens with Sainz, he will be very firmly part of the Red Bull family."

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