Oct.5 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Carlos Sainz jr is closing in on a Toro Rosso drive for 2015.

Until mere days ago, the Spanish rookie – as the apparent cream of Red Bull’s junior programme – remained disappointed to have missed out on departing Jean-Eric Vergne’s place for next season.

Red Bull had swept in to sign the teen sensation Max Verstappen instead, despite 20-year-old Sainz’s superior experience and success this year in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

But after Sebastian Vettel’s shock exit at the energy drink company’s main F1 team, Red Bull has called up confirmed 2015 Toro Rosso racer Daniil Kvyat to drive alongside Daniel Ricciardo next year.

It opens up a new vacancy at Toro Rosso, and Sainz – whose father and namesake is the world rally legend – is the obvious favourite.

Christian Horner admitted it on Saturday, and now Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost has told El Mundo Deportivo: “99 per cent, Carlos Sainz will be in F1 next year.”

It is yet another blow to Frenchman Vergne, who ran Ricciardo close as the now Red Bull number 1 driver’s Toro Rosso teammate in 2013.

And with Kvyat now moving up to the main team as well, Vergne actually outqualified the highly rated Russian at Suzuka.

Vergne is obviously frustrated to realise he no longer figures in Red Bull’s future plans.

“It’s not a question you should ask me,” he said when asked about Saturday’s events in Japan.

Asked if the Toro Rosso vacancy is good news for him, Vergne added: “I have absolutely no idea, I have no expectation right now.

“I don’t have anything to say about the situation at the moment. I need a little bit of time to realise it and as well to understand the decision.

“Maybe I will do the Tour de France next year,” he shrugged.