Caterham approaches Sainz Jr over race seat
Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Carlos Sainz Jr has told a Spanish newspaper he has been approached by Caterham's new ownership about a race seat, possibly for as early as this season.
Sainz Jr, son of the two-time World Rally champion of the same name, is a member of the Red Bull junior programme. Caterham came under new ownership before the British Grand Prix and are now being run by Colin Kolles and former F1 racer Christijan Albers, with the team enjoying a relationship with Red Bull relating to its supply of gearboxes.
Speaking on the contact between the two parties, Sainz Jr told AS: "It is true that there have been talks and that we have spoken to them, but nothing is confirmed. My goal remains the same: to be at Toro Rosso in the future, but if, to do that, I have to go to Caterham beforehand then I will happily go there."
Though it is believed Red Bull wants Sainz Jr to focus on winning the Formula Renault 3.5, it is worth noting none of the remaining races clash with the F1 calendar. In 2011 Red Bull pulled Daniel Ricciardo out of several Formula Renault 3.5 rounds to promote him to HRT, but Sainz Jr is keen to avoid that outcome if possible.
"It was possible to contest a race this year, but it is Red Bull which decides this. They and Caterham must also have benefits and be convinced by the agreement. I have an amazing opportunity to win the Formula Renault 3.5 series and I am excited to be the first Red Bull driver to get this. I want to finish this season whatever happens."
With his financial backing Sainz Jr would most likely be a replacement for Kamui Kobayashi, who was brought in as much for his experience as the money he brought to Caterham, with team-mate Marcus Ericsson bringing sponorship with him to the Leafield outfit when he joined this season. There were rumours at the British Grand Prix that Sainz Jr and Red Bull boss Helmut Marko had paid a visit to the Caterham motorhome during the weekend.