Red Bull have chosen Pierre Gasly as the man to replace Daniel Ricciardo, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, according to reports in Spain. AS has claimed that Gasly will step up from Toro Rosso in 2019, with Sainz allowed to complete a move to McLaren.
Ricciardo stunned the Formula 1 world on Friday, confirming that he will drive for Renault in 2019 and 2020 - rejecting an offer to remain with Red Bull.
The senior team has typically promoted from within, leaving Gasly and Sainz - on loan at Renault - as their most likely options.
Now in his fourth F1 season, Sainz has greater experience than Gasly, but the Frenchman has made a superb start to life with Toro Rosso - scoring a Honda-powered fourth place at this year's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Sainz is also thought to have angered Red Bull's hierarchy when he pushed through his loan move to Renault at the tail-end of last season, which left the junior squad in turmoil, having sacked Daniil Kvyat - to promote Gasly - a few weeks prior.
Brendon Hartley was drafted in to replace Sainz and the Kiwi has struggled to shine - with Lando Norris previously sought as a replacement for him this season.
Toro Rosso may well renew interest in Norris as they look to gain leverage against McLaren over their signing of Faenza technical director James Key.
Sainz is expected to join a flailing McLaren team in 2019 - Zak Brown has already said he is "high" on the Woking squad's shortlist.
Whether the Spaniard will team with his idol Fernando Alonso remains to be seen, however.
Alonso has grown frustrated with McLaren's failure to deliver a strong car and has been linked with a full-time move to IndyCar as he seeks victory in the Indianapolis 500 in order to complete the Triple Crown.
Stoffel Vandoorne has not lived up to his GP2-winning hype and has been soundly thrashed by Alonso this season - the veteran has outqualified the Belgian in all 12 races so far this season.
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