Pierre Gasly to replace Daniil Kvyat in Toro Rosso for Malaysian GP
Toro Rosso has announced that Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly will make his Formula 1 debut in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The 2016 GP2 champion will replace Daniil Kvyat for the weekend as the Russian’s struggles continue, since his switch last year from Red Bull to Toro Rosso after the first four races.
"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," he said.
"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."
Team principal Franz Tost added: "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.
"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."
In the 27 races for Toro Rosso from 2016’s Spanish Grand Prix until the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Kvyat has only scored eight points in five races – as opposed to teammate Carlos Sainz, who has 17 points finishes, scoring 84.
The announcement from Toro Rosso did not state the number of grand prixs Gasly will drive in, beyond the Malaysian round, but he is to compete in multiple weekends.
The Frenchman currently competes in the Japan’s Super Formula series with Team Mugen. He is second in the championship, a mere 0.5 points behind leader Hiroaki Ishiura.
He has a credible shot at the title in the next month's final round at Suzuka. However, it remains to be seen if Gasly competes there, since the Super Formula round clashes with the US Grand Prix.
The rumours in Singapore talked upon Gasly to be drafted in Toro Rosso for Sainz, who was expected to make a switch to Renault in place of Jolyon Palmer. However, Palmer insisted his stay with the French outfit for the remainder of the 2017 season - which seems the case right now.
For Toro Rosso, it is the case of testing and evaluating Gasly for a possible seat in 2018, with Sainz already confirmed to replace Palmer in Renault alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
It was also confirmed that Kvyat will stay on with the Red Bull family.