Carlos Sainz says he has made Red Bull aware that he wants to be racing for a top-line Formula 1 team as soon as 2018.
With 2017 set to be Sainz's third year in the sister team Toro Rosso, the Spanish driver has said he will be preparing to move up the pecking order the year after.
"I think Red Bull perfectly knows - 2017, it's a tough year for me, it's the third year for me in Toro Rosso," Sainz said.
"I think I could have, if options would have been open, I could have done a jump to Red Bull or any other team.
"So, I think they [Red Bull] perfectly know, I want to be in a top team in 2018, I think they perfectly know, I am already starting to be ready for that.
"As long as they know and keep that in mind, I am OK to stay one more year in Toro Rosso."
Red Bull's current first-team duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen are both contracted through 2018.
Sainz, likewise, has a deal that can run for a few more years, as the energy drink company holds the option to keep him within its Formula 1 structure - whether that be in a Red Bull seat or in a Toro Rosso seat.
"I am contracted here [Red Bull]. The option [on 2017] has been executed. They have option on me until 2019 or 2020," he said.
"They can keep executing option on me, doesn't matter if it's Toro Rosso or Red Bull.
"I had a conversation with Helmut [Marko] and Red Bull, I have let them know that I am ready.
"I need to rise one step in F1, I feel ready for it. They perfectly understand and they are with me in that area."
Additional reporting by Oleg Karpov