Should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave Red Bull at the end of the season when his current contract runs out, Red Bull would almost certainly call on the services of Carlos Sainz who is currently on loan to Renault.
While Ricciardo and Red Bull are willing to wait until the Summer break before the Australian makes a decision, the French team has admitted that it cannot, and consequently it is already looking around.
"We need to make plans, we need to be prepared for the worst as always," Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told Reuters. "So the worst for us would be that we would want to stay with Carlos and that's not possible. And it can happen, let's be honest. So we need to plan accordingly."
That said, while anticipating that Sainz may leave, at present the team is planning for 2019 as though he were still on board.
"We have actually started to work on next year's car," revealed the Frenchman, "and we had a meeting this week with him to talk about the plan for next year, the objectives and also... the early concept of the 2019 car.
"It's a clear sign we are not thinking that, in the back of our mind, he may not be with us," he added. "It may happen, but we don't want to compromise short-term or middle-term performance by starting to mitigate the way we are working with him."
Sunday's dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix marked Sainz' best result of the season, though the Spaniard nine points adrift of his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who has out-qualified him at all four races. Ironically, the only other driver to have out-qualified his teammate at all four races is countryman Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
"It would be completely inappropriate to start making judgements, way too early," said Abiteboul. "But it does say something about the quality of his team mate and that's great, that's only positive.
"For the rest, we will see. We have a bit of time to specifically think about Carlos. Having said that, we will not delay the thinking process about the alternative in case it cannot work out with him.
"It's my responsibility to make sure that we have a competitive line-up next year and to present the options to the board of Renault in the coming weeks and months and we will do that."