Sainz was overlooked for a seat at Red Bull when Max Verstappen was promoted in place of Daniil Kvyat earlier this year, with Kvyat dropping back down to Toro Rosso. Sainz has impressed since then, and after Franz Tost said he expected to retain the 21-year-old, Horner confirmed an option has been activated to keep him at Toro Rosso next season.
“Well we took up [Sainz]’s option earlier this week so he’s committed to Red Bull for the next 12 months,” Horner said. “As with all the drivers he’s committed to Red Bull Racing and then we have the ability to place them where we want. Of course he’s currently at Toro Rosso which is where he’ll be next year.”
Asked if Red Bull needed to move quickly with Sainz to stop him being poached by another team, Horner replied: “No, we had until the end of the year to take up the option but we chose to do it early to put his mind at rest.”
And Horner expects Kvyat to remain alongside Sainz in an unchanged line-up as he feels there is still further potential in the Russian driver.
“I’d be surprised [if there were changes] to be honest with you. I think Dany Kvyat is continuing his development. You can see he is finding his feet now and there’s not an obvious candidate knocking on the door at the moment that would warrant that seat.”
With Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen contracted at Red Bull until the end of 2018, Horner says it is a nice problem to be trying to keep all four drivers happy as long as they are performing.
“Of course it’s great for us to have a driver development program that is producing talent like Ricciardo, like Verstappen, like Carlos Sainz as well and obviously Dany Kvyat. We’re not short of talent in our stable.
“It’s a luxury issue really. I think we’re set in Red Bull Racing for the next two and a half years so it’s a luxury issue to have.”