SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS Belgium (Reuters) - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso says fellow-Spaniard Carlos Sainz junior will be in Formula One 'sooner or later' despite the setback of Toro Rosso opting for Dutch teenager Max Verstappen next season.
Sainz, who is a Red Bull junior driver, had been seen as a leading candidate for the Toro Rosso race seat until the Red Bull-owned team announced last week that they had signed 16-year-old Verstappen.
The 19-year-old Spaniard tested for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso last year and is currently leading the Formula Renault 3.5 series.
With Verstappen teaming up with 19-year-old Russian Daniil Kvyat, Sainz's hopes of progressing into Formula One with Red Bull seemed to have faded and he has most recently been linked with Caterham.
That team gave German triple Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer his debut in Belgium, replacing Japan's Kamui Kobayashi. Spaniard Roberto Merhi is also seen as a contender for a race opportunity there.
Alonso suggested the son of two times world rally champion Carlos senior would find a way.
"I was thinking and many people thought that he could be in Toro Rosso next year. But he will arrive in Formula One sooner or later," the double world champion told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix.
"He has the talent, he has the mentality, the right approach and he's 19. Now it seems old, after the last news, but with 19 years and leading the (Renault) world series and winning all the championships that he raced, he will arrive."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien)