Scuderia Toro Rosso will drop current driver Daniil Kvyat to bring in Red Bull Racing junior Pierre Gasly this weekend, to give the young Frenchman his first opportunity in Formula 1, ahead of a possible seat with the squad in 2018.
Gasly has long been touted as the most likely predecessor to Carlos Sainz Jr. who is being loaned out to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team in 2018, and will now get his chance to prove himself at the highest level.
It is believed that Red Bull bosses would like to see how Gasly performs, and are allowing him to get some Formula 1 racing experience under his belt, prior to giving him a full-time race seat next year.
It had been hoped that Sainz Jr. would move to Renault as early as the Malaysia race weekend, allowing Gasly to take the Spaniard’s place without too much disruption. However, plans to remove Jolyon Palmer to make that possible were thwarted, when the Brit refused to break the terms of his current contract, and accept an offer of $3 million to vacate the seat early.
Gasly is currently competing in the Japanese Super Formula Championship where he stands a chance of taking the title, but could take part in both the Malaysian and Japanese Grand Prix, before needing to return to his Super Formula campaign for the final round of the season, at which point Kvyat would return to the action.
Gasly was thrilled to be given this unique opportunity, and feels he is as ready as he will ever be to make the step up.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get this chance in my motor racing career and specifically, Red Bull, Dr. Helmut Marko and Scuderia Toro Rosso…this is a great opportunity for me.
“I feel as ready as I can be, having had to be prepared for anything in my role as Red Bull Racing’s third driver this year. I will do my best to perform well with Scuderia Toro Rosso during these coming races.”
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost advised that the move sees the Faenza based squad doing what it was set up to do.
“Scuderia Toro Rosso was established by Red Bull to bring youngsters from its Junior Programme into Formula 1 and that’s what we are doing by giving Pierre this chance.
“He is the next in line at Red Bull for this opportunity and he has shown that he deserves it, having taken the 2016 GP2 title and this year being very competitive in the Super Formula series in Japan.
“He really has a valid chance of winning the title, as he is only half a point behind the leader. The driver switch gives us an opportunity to make a more informed decision regarding our 2018 driver choices.”
Kvyat has not enjoyed a strong campaign in Formula 1 since being demoted from his seat at Red Bull to sister squad Toro Rosso, in order to make way for Max Verstappen midway through the 2016 season. Nor has he shown the improvement necessary this year, to make it likely he will be retained by the Faenza based squad, or indeed any other outfit in the Formula 1 paddock in 2018.
The Russian’s poor form, having accumulated just four points this year compared to his team-mate’s forty-eight, could also mean that he will find himself out of a seat once the Japanese Super Formula season is over, and Gasly is once again available to contest the final three races of the Formula 1 season.
Tost has not ruled out Kvyat being retained in 2018 however, but has indicated that Gasly’s run out will allow them to make an informed decision on who will be driving for them next season.
“For a variety of reasons, some of them due to technical problems, but others being mistakes of his own making, Daniil Kvyat has not really shown his true potential so far this year, which is why we are standing him down for the next races.
“This will give us the opportunity to evaluate Pierre on track during a proper race weekend.”