Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly are likely to be the Toro Rosso drivers for next season, Team Boss Franz Tost suggested ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.
Red Bull confirmed it has dropped Daniil Kvyat from its driver program, clearing room for any further speculation on the junior team’s line up for 2018.
Tost confirmed he has decided on keeping his current drivers for next season, his reasoning being, “Because both are Red Bull drivers, both are highly skilled drivers.
“We want to test them for the rest of the season as there is a high possibility this will be the driver line-up for 2018.”
Hartley’s performance in his first Grand Prix was very promising, according to Tost. He believes that if the Kiwi gets a competitive car, he can deliver success to the team.
“Brendon is a very high-skilled driver, he is very competitive,” he said. “I am really happy that he is back and I can tell you we give him a competitive car, he will be there and he will fight in F1 for success.
“I hope next year we will bring together a competitive package that he can fight for victories and other positions [with].”
The Kiwi returns
Hartley’s determined moves from the back of the grid to 13th in his first race impressed Red Bull Boss Christian Horner, especially because the New Zealander was dropped from the Red Bull junior driver program early in his career.
“What is fantastic about the Brendon story is that that is a guy who started off life in [Red Bull’s] junior programme,” he said. “He got dropped early on in the programme, but there was no remorse or saying ‘haven’t I been badly treated’. At the time he thanked Red Bull for the opportunity.
“He had nothing else to race, he went to racing minis, historic F1 cars, and he showed a passion and commitment to keep doing what he believed in himself.
“He renewed his association with Red Bull when he became a sportscar driver with Porsche and became a world champion and is competing for that world championship again this year.
“It is a testimony to his determination and tenacity and skill and talent that he has got himself into a position to be selected for Toro Rosso for the races he is doing.”
Horner believes the new driver duo could even become Red Bull racers in the future.
“The two drivers that Franz has for next year represent two exciting prospects for Red Bull Racing further down the line,” he said.
Toro Rosso and Red Bull went through a great deal of trouble to get Hartley to race at Austin. They had to overcome many contractual, regulatory and logistical issues to get the Kiwi racer into the junior team’s seat.
Even though Kvyat scored a point in US Grand Prix, the Russian ‘Torpedo’ was informed he is out of the Red Bull family and will not be racing with the team anymore.
Tost officially confirmed the team’s position on the issue.
“He is not anymore with Red Bull and he is, therefore, free to do whatever he wants to do,” he said.