Carlos Sainz Jr has dismissed any notion of Max Verstappen vetoing his potential arrival at Red Bull in 2019, claiming he enjoys a close relationship with his former Toro Rosso team-mate. Claims that Verstappen would have a say in choosing Daniel Ricciardo's replacement were also labelled "crap" by Red Bull chief Helmut Marko.
Pierre Gasly was this week confirmed as the man to replace Ricciardo when the Australian departs for Renault next year.
The Frenchman's promotion from Toro Rosso had become a near certainty last week when Sainz penned a "multi-year" deal with McLaren to replace his idol and fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso. Red Bull had confirmed that Gasly and Sainz were the only drivers under serious consideration for their spare seat.
Reports shortly after Ricciardo's shock decision had suggested that Verstappen had ordered Red Bull not to hire Sainz, due to disagreements from their time together in 2015 and 2016 at the sister team, but the Spanish driver says nothing could be further from the truth.
"I do not know where that comes from, because Max is one of the paddock drivers I have the best contact with," Sainz is quoted by Formule1.nl.
On the suggestion Verstappen blocked his path to Red Bull, Sainz said: "He would never do that.
"I can only be grateful to Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to reach Formula 1 and drive for different teams. The fact that I'm not in a Red Bull seat now does not mean that it will never happen."
Looking at the constrictors' standings, a departure from Renault's works team to McLaren appears to be a backwards step for Sainz, but he does not see it this way.
"I think this is the right place for me at the right time," he said. "The team is being rebuilt and everything is focused on getting back to the front.
"I have a deal for two years, but the intention is to stay there longer and to achieve successes together."