Max Verstappen has hinted that a move to Red Bull for 2017 has already been put on paper, prior to his shock call-up to replace Daniil Kvyat for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Dutchman is making the switch from Toro Rosso after his Red Bull chiefs elected to move Kvyat in the wake of his troubled Russian GP.
Speculation had long suggested that Verstappen was favourite to partner Daniel Ricciardo in 2017 anyway, amid talk that his original contract meant he could be a free agent next year if he was not moved to Red Bull's main team.
Speaking to RTL4 television about if there had been a previous agreement about moving to Red Bull for his third year in F1, Verstappen said: "It was always the target, absolutely."
When asked directly if that had actually been put on paper, he paused briefly before replying: "In the end, yes."
Verstappen does not think there is any pressure on him to perform in the short term, as anything he does this year against Ricciardo will just add to his experience ahead of 2017.
"Of course you are going to compare yourself with your team-mate," he said. "I think it is good in the end to prepare myself for next year."
He added: "The problem in Formula 1 is that much depends on the car. So on one hand it's the same for everyone, if you have a great car then you are already competing better than another team."
Verstappen has not taken any of his former Toro Rosso engineers with him, with Xevi Pujolar having left the Italian outfit in the wake of the Dutchman's departure.
Speaking about that situation, Verstappen said: "I had a really good relationship and that's also important to do well. On the other side at Red Bull they have good engineers too otherwise you cannot achieve that [level] with such a team.
"So on one hand it's a pity, but on the other hand it's good to go into another adventure with new people, because in the end you have to learn to adjust."
Additional reporting by Tim Biesbrouck